Graduated fixed penalty and deposit scheme
Driver & Vehicle Agency (DVA) enforcement officers can offer fixed penalties for certain driver and vehicle related offences. Depending on the nature of the offence, if you are found to be non-compliant with the law you may be offered a fixed penalty instead of prosecution in court.
Fixed penalty offences
You may be given a fixed penalty at the roadside for a wide range of offences such as: driving longer than the requisite hours allowed; mechanical defects on vehicles and trailers and overloading, all of which endanger road safety.
Fixed penalties for driver’s hours and overweight vehicles are graduated and range from £30 to £200 depending on the seriousness of the offence.
Penalties offered for freight and bus related offences include:
- mechanical defects
- driver's hours and record keeping
Penalties offered for taxi related offences include:
- mechanical defects
- failing to wear a taxi driver's badge
- failing to display taxi plates
- no taxi roof sign
If you are a non UK driver and you commit offences in Northern Ireland, you will need to pay an immediate financial penalty deposit (‘deposit’). It will be either equal to the fixed penalty amount, or a set figure of £300 per offence as a court financial deposit (‘court deposit’), if the offence is of a nature that it cannot be dealt with by a fixed penalty.
If you fail to pay a deposit, your vehicle will be immobilised and recovered until payment is made. In such cases, significant extra charges including: an immobilisation release fee of £80; up to £350 recovery charge and up to £35 per day storage charge, will apply.
You must pay all charges in full before the vehicle can be released.
Offences that attract penalty points
Depending on the nature of the offence, if you are found to be non-compliant with rules set in law you may have your licence endorsed with penalty points as part of a fixed penalty.
In cases where you have committed an offence that will take you over the legal limit of penalty points (where you may be disqualified from driving) a fixed penalty cannot be offered. In these cases you will be prosecuted in court.
If an offence is endorsable, you should expect between three and six points to be awarded for an offence.
If you are an offender from outside the UK who commits an endorsable offence within the UK, you will have a driving record created within the UK and any penalty points accrued will be endorsed on that record. If you break the legal limit of penalty points you will be disqualified from driving in the UK.
If you are a UK offender you have 21 days to pay a penalty by cheque, postal order or debit/ credit card.
If you are an offender from outside the UK, you will have to pay an immediate fixed penalty deposit or court deposit at the roadside.
Payment of a fixed penalty is made to the Fixed Penalty Office, Laganside Courts, Belfast. The office is open Monday to Friday, from 9.30 am to 4.30 pm and the address is at the link below.
Fixed penalty appeals
The penalties given at the side of the road are non-negotiable. If you are a UK offender and you choose not to pay the penalty, you have 21 days to ask to have your case heard in court.
If you are a non UK driver, you must pay the fixed penalty deposit at the roadside but you have the same right to have the case heard in court and if found ‘not guilty’, any deposit(s) would be refunded.
You should contact the Fixed Penalty Office, Laganside Courts (details above), if you:
- have sent a payment and have not received a receipt
- need advice on whether your payment has been received and accepted
- have received a Court Summons and want to know why it has been sent to you
Submitting your licence
If you have committed an endorsable offence (UK driver), you must send your driving licences (photographic and paper counterpart) to the police station shown on the fixed penalty ticket within 14 days of the offence.
Your licence will be endorsed and returned to the address given and you should allow about four to six weeks for this process to be carried out.
If you have not received your licence back after this period of time you should contact the Fixed Penalty Office.