While in everyday life receiving an 'endorsement' is regarded as positive, in the realm of UK motoring law it is very much the opposite.

If you are convicted of a motoring offence, a court may 'endorse' your driving licence with penalty points. The number of points added depends on the nature and seriousness of the offence.

Courts can also hand down fines and custodial sentences, depending on the offence.

Lady texting whilst driving

In this article we take a look at what careless driving penalties you may be given if you find yourself faced with a careless driving charge.


What is careless driving?

How the The Road Traffic Act 1988 describes careless driving:

Careless, and inconsiderate, driving:

"If a person drives a mechanically propelled vehicle on a road or other public place without due care and attention, or without reasonable consideration for other persons using the road or place, he is guilty of an offence."



Careless driving penalty points

According to gov.uk, careless driving offences can attract endorsements of between 3 and 11 points, depending on the offence.

Penalty points for driving offences must stay on a driving record for 4 or 11 years, also depending on the offence.

A worst-case scenario is when another person dies as a result of careless driving - for example when the driver is unfit through drink or drugs, or when due to general careless or inconsiderate driving. In such cases a larger number of penalty points is likely to be added, alongside the potential of a fine and a prison sentence.

At the other end of the spectrum, an instance of careless driving may involve driving too close to a vehicle in front (“tailgating”), which might not result in a collision but is still regarded as careless driving.


What is the difference between careless driving and dangerous driving?

It should be noted that a more serious case - where there was an even lower standard of driving - might attract a 'Reckless/dangerous driving' penalty instead, depending on the judgment of the court.


What is the maximum dangerous driving penalty in the UK?

The maximum penalties for dangerous driving are 2 years’ imprisonment / Unlimited fine / Obligatory disqualification

In such instances on death caused by dangerous / reckless driving, the maximum penalties are 14 years’ imprisonment / Unlimited fine / Obligatory disqualification (minimum 2 years)

Where a court disqualifies a person on conviction for one of these offences, it must order an extended retest. 


More on what is considered careless driving

Tailgating, lane hogging, and undertaking are all examples of 'careless driving'. They are more than just bad habits - they are actions that fall below a minimum expected level of careful and competent driving.

The modern motorist faces additional potential distractions that were not around thirty years ago, such as smartphones, navigation systems and entertainment systems, which might influence a case of careless driving.


Will I go to court if convicted on careless driving?

More serious instances of careless driving are always dealt with by a court appearance.

Less serious instances of careless driving may be dealt with by police warning with no further action, or a fixed penalty and an offer of driver education.


Examples of careless driving offences with penalty points:

As noted, careless driving penalties can vary in severity. Here are some examples of careless driving penalties that you may be issued with:

  • Code CD10     Driving without due care and attention - 3 to 9 points
  • Code CD20     Driving without reasonable consideration for other road users - 3 to 9 points
  • Code CD80     Causing death by careless or inconsiderate driving - 3 to 11 points

For a complete list of careless driving offences and penalty points, visit gov.uk.