Driving disqualifications

If you’re convicted of a motoring offence, the court can endorse your driving licence with penalty points or impose a period of disqualification. They can also order you to resit another driving test.

Resit of driving test

In Northern Ireland there are some offences for which, if a disqualification is imposed, you must resit a driving test before applying for the return of your licence, this re-test is outside the jurisdiction of the court. These offences relate to:

  • alcohol
  • drugs
  • careless driving
  • dangerous driving

Short period disqualification (SPD)

If you’re disqualified for less than 56 days, the Driver & Vehicle Agency (DVA) will endorse your licence and give it back to you.

The endorsement shows the disqualification period and you don’t need to renew your licence.

The licence becomes valid and you can return to driving after the disqualification ends.

Disqualification periods of 56 days or more

If you’re disqualified for 56 days or more you’ll need to apply for a licence following disqualification before you can return to driving.

Disqualification under the 'totting-up' system

If you build up 12 or more penalty points within a period of three years, you’ll be liable to be disqualified under the 'totting-up' system. Generally, you can be disqualified from driving for:

  • six months if you get 12 penalty points or more within three years
  • 12 months if you get a second disqualification within three years
  • two years if you get a third disqualification

Disqualification until test is passed

If you were disqualified until re-tested, you'll need to apply for a provisional driving licence and retake both a theory and practical driving test.

If you previously held a motorcycle licence, you'll need to pass a test in category A to have it reinstated.

To regain your full entitlement to drive higher categories of vehicles that you previously held, you'll need to pass a test in category B (car).

If you're disqualified until passing an extended test, you must make application for an extended test either in person or by post to any of DVA's test centres – you cannot book online or use the telephone booking service. Further information is available at the link below:

When a test of competence is required

A test of competence is required to be taken where a person is disqualified for an offence under any of the following rules of the Order of 1995:

  • Article 14 (causing death, or grievous bodily injury, by careless driving when under the influence of drink or drugs)
  • Article 15(1) (driving or attempting to drive while unfit)
  • Article 16(1)(a) (driving or attempting to drive with excess alcohol)
  • Article 18(7) (failing to provide a specimen), where that is an offence involving obligatory disqualification

An extended driving test is required to be taken where a person is disqualified for any of the following offences:

  • manslaughter by the driver of a motor vehicle
  • an offence under Article 9 of the Order of 1995 (causing death, or grievous bodily injury, by dangerous driving)
  • an offence under Article 10 of that Order (dangerous driving)
  • an offence under Article 14 of that Order (causing death, or grievous bodily injury, by careless driving when under the influence of drink or drugs)

High Risk Offenders (HRO)

In certain circumstances disqualification for alcohol-related offences may require DVA to make medical enquiries before your driving licence can be renewed. These circumstances are where a person is disqualified for:

  • an alcohol level of over 200mg in 100ml of blood, or 87.5mg in 100ml of breath, or 267.5mg in 100ml of urine
  • two drink and driving offences (or being in charge of a vehicle while unfit through drink) within 10 years
  • refusing or failing to give a specimen for analysis

As well as paying a higher fee to renew your driving licence, you may also have to go to and pay for a medical examination.

More information about the HRO scheme

A HRO will have to pay a higher fee for a provisional licence and medical examination, the purpose of which is to make sure that he or she does not have any medical condition that may affect suitability to drive.

Please note: All costs associated with the medical examination must be borne by the applicant.

How to check when your disqualification ends

You can check by contacting DVA customer enquiries, Monday to Friday from 9.00 am to 5.00 pm, on:

  • phone: 0300 200 7861

Reducing the period of a disqualification

You can ask the court to reduce the period of your disqualification after serving:

  • two years of the disqualification period if the disqualification was for more than two years but less than four years
  • half the disqualification period if the disqualification was for more than four years but less than 10 years
  • five years of the disqualification period if the disqualification was for 10 years or more

You’ll need to apply in writing to the court that disqualified you, giving the date of offence, date of conviction and any information to justify your request.

If successful, the court will tell DVA of the decision. You can then apply to renew your driving licence.  

Mutual recognition of driving disqualifications

There is mutual recognition of driving disqualifications between Northern Ireland, Great Britain and Isle of Man.  

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