The recent changes to the rehabilitation periods under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 have again raised the issue of when motoring offences need to be disclosed to insurance companies and whilst there have been reductions in the rehabilitation periods for most convictions, the period for driving endorsements remains at 5 years and penalty points for 3 years. That’s all fairly straightforward then except the question then arises, “What’s the difference between driving licence endorsements and penalty points?”
The answer to this question is a fairly straightforward, or should be and yet is a mystery to many drivers as it is not clearly explained. The legislation regarding when an offence is spent is also not helpful as there are separate rehabilitation periods that if taken out of context could easily lead someone to believe that a conviction is spent when it is not.
What is a driving licence endorsement?
The licence endorsement is a record of your conviction for a motoring offence that is marked, endorsed, on your driving licence by the courts. These only become spent after 5 years under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act. This may seem at odds with the other recent changes to the rehabilitation of offenders act but motoring offences are excluded from those changes.
What are penalty points on a driving licence?
The penalty points are awarded as part of the punishment in respect of a conviction that you have received. These points expire for most offences after 4 years and they are not included for totting up purposes after three years. The fact that points are expired does not mean the conviction does not need to be disclosed if it is less than 5 years old.
Confusing Signals from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act
A ban is spent after the ban expires, yet the endorsement on the driving licence must be disclosed for five years. Perhaps this is why the man in the accompanying picture is confused but no that is not the reason.
He is applying for a job driving for a supermarket chain and has just discovered that he does not need to disclose the conviction that he received 4 years ago that led to a 6 month prison sentence to his new employer but that he does need to disclose the SP30 he received in the same year for breaking the speed limit!
Why is this important?
It is essential that when arranging motor insurance you provide the correct information to your insurer under your duty of disclosure and answer the questions relating to previous convictions correctly. Failure to do so could leave you uninsured in the event of a claim.