So, you've been convicted of a motoring offence – what could this mean for you and your finances?
Not all motoring offences lead to convictions as standard. Driving carelessly, for example, will not see a driver convicted provided that they have agreed to pay a speeding ticket or fixed penalty. However, what if your violation has taken you to court and, crucially, seen you convicted there?
Right now, you could be understandably full of worry – and not just due to the shame that the situation may bring upon you and your family. How is your life likely to be affected?
What classes as a “conviction” in motoring law?
It doesn’t matter whether the crime was driving without wearing a seatbelt or speeding, ignoring a traffic sign or using a mobile phone on the road. Whatever the traffic violation, you can be landed with a criminal conviction if you are found or plead guilty of that crime in a magistrates’ court or Crown Court.
One saving grace, however, is that your conviction might not have lumbered you with a criminal record as well. That extra burden would only apply if the conviction was for a “recordable offence”; in other words, something potentially resulting in you having to serve a prison sentence.
Whether you would actually receive that sentence would be neither here nor there; the mere potential of it could make your offence “recordable”. Motoring offences in this category include dangerous driving, drink driving and drug driving.
However, even some offences where a prison sentence would never come into play, like tampering with a vehicle or failing to provide a preliminary breath test, can be added to a criminal record.
In practice, could that conviction affect your household's livelihood?
The sobering answer is “yes” – at least in the short term. The UK Government says that you might have to disclose your criminal record when applying for a job, education or training. That record would bar you from entry to certain fields of work, such as healthcare and law enforcement.
Mercifully, though, a motoring conviction does not have to disadvantage you in the job market – except in particular sectors – if that conviction has been “spent”. The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 ensures that if you are handed a prison sentence of under 30 months, it’s only a matter of time before you no longer have to disclose that conviction in all but limited circumstances.
Unfortunately, if you receive a sentence exceeding 30 months, even if you end up serving less than that, the conviction can never be “spent”. However, not all hope is lost.
Blown your cover? That doesn't strictly mean you've... blown your cover
The riskier a driver a motor insurer deems you to be, the more they will charge you for insurance. That's a simple, uncontested fact. Indeed, for many people convicted of a driving offence, the likelihood that they will be charged more for insurance or even priced out of being able to afford to insure themselves on the road may be one of their greatest immediate fears.
Thankfully, companies do exist – such as MoneyBeach – that specialise in presenting competitive quotes for convicted driver insurance for those in this situation. That might help to at least slightly cushion the financial blow that accompanies your motoring offence conviction.
In conclusion, being convicted of a driving offence could, indeed, have major negative implications for your life, freedom and ability to provide for your family. However, as detailed above, there are also some reasons for hope if you are in this situation – so good luck and most importantly, drive safely.
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