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Going to Court for Bald Tyres: What You Need to Know

by | Jun 28, 2024 | Articles, Driving Offence Advice

Driving with bald tyres is not just a danger to you and other road users, but it is also a serious motoring offence in England and Wales. Tyres with insufficient tread depth can significantly reduce your vehicle’s grip, especially in wet conditions, increasing the risk of losing control of your vehicle and accidents. This article will provide an in-depth look at the legal implications of having bald tyres, the potential penalties, and what you can do if you find yourself facing court due to this issue. We will cover:


  1. Penalty points for 1 bald tyre
  2. Penalty points for 2 bald tyres
  3. Penalty points for 4 bald tyres
  4. What is the legal tyre tread depth?
  5. Going to court due to bald tyre penalty points reaching the totting-up limit
  6. Legal defences for bald tyres if you reach 12 penalty points

Penalty Points for 1 Bald Tyre

In England and Wales, driving with a tyre that is deemed bald—meaning it has a tread depth below the legal limit—can result in three penalty points on your driving licence and a fine of up to £2,500 per tyre. This is not only a substantial financial burden but can also impact your ability to drive if you accumulate too many penalty points. The law is strict because bald tyres pose a significant road safety risk; they reduce the car’s ability to handle and brake effectively.

Penalty Points for 2 Bald Tyres

If you are caught with two bald tyres, the penalties double. This means you could face six penalty points and a potential fine of up to £5,000. This situation can arise if both tyres on one axle are worn below the legal limit. It is therefore crucial to regularly check all tyres, not just the more visible front ones, to avoid such severe penalties.

Penalty Points for 4 Bald Tyres

Having four bald tyres is an extremely serious offence. This could result in a total of twelve penalty points (3 points for each defective tyre), an automatic disqualification from driving under the “totting up” system, and fines up to £10,000. With twelve points, you would be banned from driving for at least six months. Such a ban can have significant repercussions on your personal and professional life, making it crucial to ensure your tyres are checked frequently and always within legal limits.

What Is Legal Tyre Tread Depth?

The legal minimum tyre tread depth in the UK is 1.6 millimetres across the central three-quarters of the breadth of the tyre and around the entire circumference. To measure this, you can use a tread depth gauge or the edge of a 20p coin. Insert the coin into the tread grooves of your tyre; if the outer band of the coin is visible, the tyre tread is likely below the legal limit and needs replacing.

Going to Court Due for Bald Tyre Penalty Points

If you accumulate twelve or more penalty points within a three-year period, you will face disqualification under the totting up procedure. When summoned to court for reaching the totting up limit, it’s important to be prepared. The court will consider the severity of the offence, your driving record, and any mitigating circumstances you present.

Losing your driving licence can have severe consequences, affecting your ability to work, especially if driving is an essential part of your job, and impacting your personal life. It is essential to seek legal advice as soon as possible to explore your options and potentially reduce the penalties.

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Legal Defences for Bald Tyres if Reached 12 Penalty Points

If you reach 12 penalty points due to bald tyres, there are a few potential defences or challenges you can make at Court:

  1. Exceptional Hardship: One of the most common ways in which to avoid the totting-up disqualification is to argue that a driving ban would cause exceptional hardship. This goes beyond inconvenience and requires demonstrating significant adverse impacts on your life or the lives of others. For example, if you would lose your job and be unable to support your family, or if you are the primary carer for someone who relies on you for transportation.
  2. Mistake or Error: In some cases, you may be able to argue that the tyres were not bald at the time you were driving and that there was a mistake or error in the assessment. Providing evidence such as recent tyre inspection or replacement records can support this potential defence.
  3. Vehicle Usage: If you can prove that the vehicle was not in use on the road when the tyres were assessed, such as being off-road for repairs or storage, you might be able to contest the charges.
  4. Mechanic’s Error: Sometimes, the fault might lie with a mechanic who incorrectly assured you that the tyres were safe. Providing documentation or a witness statement from the mechanic can support this potential challenge to the prosecution case.
  5. New Owner: If you recently purchased the vehicle and the tyres were already worn, you may be able to argue that you were not aware of their condition. This can be particularly compelling if you can show that you had plans to replace them.

In Conclusion

Driving with bald tyres is a serious offence in England and Wales, carrying severe penalties that can escalate quickly if multiple tyres are involved. Regularly checking your tyre tread depth is a simple but crucial task to ensure your safety and avoid hefty fines or penalty points. If you do find yourself facing court due to bald tyre penalties, it’s important to understand your rights and possible defences. Seeking legal advice early can make a significant difference in the outcome, potentially preventing a driving ban and mitigating the impact on your life.

At our driving offence law firm, we specialise in helping motorists navigate these complex legal issues. If you are facing charges related to bald tyres or any other driving offence, contact us for expert advice and representation.

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.

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