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What Happens if You Get Caught Driving Whilst Disqualified?

by | Oct 20, 2023 | Articles, Driving Offence Advice

Driving is a privilege granted to those who have demonstrated their ability to do so responsibly and safely. However, some individuals find themselves in situations where they are disqualified from driving due to various reasons, such as accumulating too many penalty points or committing serious driving offences.

In the United Kingdom, getting caught driving while disqualified can lead to severe consequences both legally and personally. In this article, we explore what happens when you get caught driving whilst disqualified.

How does a Driver get Disqualified?

Before delving into consequences, it’s important to understand what driving disqualification entails. In the United Kingdom, disqualification can result from accumulating 12 or more penalty points within a three-year period (penalty points driving ban) or for committing certain serious driving offences such as dangerous driving, driving whilst unfit through drink or drugs, driving with excess alcohol in your system or even for failure to provide a specimen. The disqualification (ban) period, however, is not set in stone either, the periods of disqualification therefore range from several months to several years depending on the offence and the driver’s previous record.

For the disqualification process to take place, the individual would usually be required to attend Court and be present for the hearing of an offence which requires consideration for disqualification from driving or attracts a mandatory disqualification. For example, if you are required to attend Court for a hearing for an offence of drunk driving, you will need to be present to put forward your plea and be sentenced and disqualified in your presence (if entering a guilty plea). Failure to attend such a hearing can often result in a warrant for arrest being issued, therefore it is important for any road users facing charges to attend their hearing to avoid far more serious repercussions.

There are circumstances, where an individual may not even be aware of a case against them and have not received a postal requisition informing them of their attendance at Court, some offences such as using your mobile phone whilst driving are proceeded in absence and points are often added to a licence which in turn could lead to the driver becoming a totter, accumulating 12 or more points and then being disqualified from driving for a period of at least 6 months.  This can and does often occur in the absence of the individual. Sadly, given driving whilst disqualified is a strict liability offence the onus will be on the driver and not the Court to communicate a disqualification has taken place. Therefore, ignorance will not be a defence and you cannot turn up to Court saying you didn’t know you were disqualified – this excuse will simply not wash.


How are Disqualified Drivers Caught?

In the United Kingdom, the detection of disqualified drivers is a vital aspect of road safety and law enforcement. Various methods and technologies are employed to identify individuals who continue to drive despite being banned from doing so.

One common means of catching disqualified drivers is through Automatic Number Plate Recognition systems– also known as ANPR. These camera networks are strategically placed across the country, capturing the licence plate number of passing vehicles. ANPR cameras are designed to automatically register whether a passing vehicle holds an MOT and valid road tax as well as who a vehicle is registered to. These cameras are regularly used to locate stolen vehicles, during investigations for missing persons and those wanted by police. They are also used to detect disqualified drivers. When a disqualified driver’s vehicle is flagged in the system, an alert is generated, leading to police intervention and arrests if necessary.

If you are therefore driving a vehicle whilst disqualified, you are highly likely to be caught by an ANPR Camera. Particularly if the vehicle you are using has been registered in your name.

This, however, does not mean any would-be disqualified drivers can go out and drive a different vehicle to avoid detection. Routine police patrols also play a significant role in identifying disqualified drivers. Police Officers are trained to recognise suspicious behavior or driving patterns that may indicate a disqualified driver at the wheel. Additionally, public tip-offs and informants can be instrumental in exposing individuals who flout an order from the Court and continue to drive whilst disqualified. General members of the public can and do report suspected disqualified drivers to the police, thus prompting investigations.

Furthermore, advancements in facial recognition technology and data sharing between government agencies can help identify disqualified drivers. When individuals provide false identities or licences during vehicle and traffic stops or other encounters with law enforcement, cross-referencing with official records can reveal their true status.

You can also forget deploying levels of sophistication where using false plates on your vehicle is concerned, this is an offence in itself and attracts a custodial sentence. This form of offence is also easily detected by the authorities and essentially aggravates the offence of driving whilst disqualified, meaning far severe consequences for you.

What are the Consequences of Driving Whilst Disqualified?


Legal Penalties:

  • For the majority of offences that exist, the Court is required to adhere to sentencing guidelines devised by The Sentencing Council. These guidelines are categorised into categories depending on the culpability of the offender and the level of harm caused. Where the offence of driving whilst disqualified concerns the sentencing ranges from a financial penalty up to 26 weeks custody meaning for the more serious cases and repeat offenders you can expect to spend a period at His Majesty’s pleasure.
  • Disqualification – In addition to the punitive element of punishment such as a fine, community order or custody, you can also expect to face an extended period of disqualification ranging from 3 to 18 months, however it is important to note, if you have been sentenced to a period of imprisonment, additional months can be imposed to ensure you are still disqualified upon your release from custody. This occurs to ensure a period of disqualification is reflected within the sentence otherwise it serves no purpose. The Court can also extend any current period of disqualification making it even longer before you can drive again.
  • Court Costs – Attendance at Court does not come cheap, whilst it is a loathsome aspect for individuals, those attending Court can expect to foot the bill in relation to the costs of the case against them as well as paying the additional victim surcharge.
  • Points on Your Licence – This offence can also attract the imposition of 6 penalty points on your licence, whilst this is a rarely used option for the Court it is a possibility and therefore causes significant complications where your driving record is concerned.

Criminal Record:

  • Being convicted of driving whilst disqualified will result in a criminal record. This in turn can have long-term consequences where employment and travel abroad is concerned.

Insurance Consequences

  • Your insurance premiums will likely skyrocket, making it extremely expensive to insure a vehicle even after your disqualification period ends.
  • Some insurance companies may even refuse to provide coverage altogether.

Personal Consequences

  • Driving while disqualified can have a profound personal impact. It can strain personal relationships, lead to job loss, potential loss of home and bring emotional stress and anxiety.


How can I Avoid the Consequences?

It goes without saying, in order to avoid the harsh consequences of driving whilst disqualified it is crucial to abide by the terms of your disqualification. During this period, consider alternative modes of transportation such as assistance from family and friends or the use of public transport.


What about Special Reasons?

There will no doubt be circumstances where an individual feels they have no choice but to drive, particularly in situations where an emergency can arise. If this is the case, you may have the potential to run what’s called “Special Reasons” in Court. It’s important to note however, that Special Reasons does not amount to a defence in law and running such a hearing with Special Reasons will benefit from the instruction of an expert motoring law solicitor who can constructively put forward your case in a manner beneficial to you. Successful Special Reasons hearing can result in a reduced ban being imposed or avoiding a ban altogether; however creating fantasy stories of your heroics will not work and it is imperative you seek legal advice to guide you through the process.

Driving whilst disqualified in the United Kingdom is a serious offence which attracts severe consequences including legal penalties, increased insurance premiums and personal hardships.  To avoid such life-changing challenges, it is essential therefore to adhere to the terms of your disqualification and explore alternative modes of transport until you are legally permitted to drive again. Offences where drunk driving is concerned afford the opportunity to attend a drunk driving rehabilitation course which upon completion reduces the period of disqualification imposed by the Court by 25%. It is therefore important to take advantage of such schemes and abide by the law. Remember safety and responsibility should always be the main priority when operating a motor vehicle

Do you require legal advice &/or representation?

If you are facing a driving offence prosecution and require expert legal representation at Court, call our lawyers on 0330 818 9843 or complete our Contact Form.

What Happens if You Get Caught Driving Whilst Disqualified , uk motoring law driving offence legal advice

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