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Is a learner driver liable for penalty points in respect of a motoring offence?

The short answer is YES. Otherwise, if they were immune no-one would ever bother to take a driving test.

It seems that even many driving instructors are unaware of this for some reason judging by comments I’ve seen recently following a case where a learner went through a red traffic light in Nottingham while on a lesson and received a ticket, subsequently went to magistrate’s court, and received an absolute discharge.

This was presented as a “victory” in the press, but without knowing what paperwork was received by the driver, it would seem in my opinion more a pyrrhic victory

This is because it would be unusual if the option of a £100 fine and going on an awareness course wasn’t offered. Paying for representation in court is likely to have cost more (legal aid is rarely available for offences of this type anymore).  and an absolute discharge is still a conviction, albeit one “spent” immediately meaning it will show up on a DBS check for a period of time, and always remain disclosable for some types of employment.

As well as with this earlier case reported in the press back in 2014, where a learner on a lesson with an instructor went 36mph in a 30, and wisely decided to opt for an awareness course rather than received points on the license.

There is no exemption in law for a learner driver, and there is no facility for an instructor to accept the points instead of the learner driver.

Can the instructor take the points instead of the learner?  The Short answer is NO, unless they want to go to prison. 

The ticket and liability are the drivers irrespective of if they are a learner or not. It is illegal for the Instructor (or supervising driver – there is no distinction) to name themselves on the ticket – In fact if they did, they’re likely to go prison if found out.

This was what happened to Chris Hulme and Vicky Pryce back in 2013 – “The saga began on 12 March 2003 when Huhne, then an MEP, was clocked speeding on his way home to south London from Stansted airport. To save him from a driving ban owing to an accumulation of points on his licence, Pryce said she had been driving, her trial heard.“. That is in no way different from an Instructor claiming they were driving when in fact it was the learner. The case didn’t became known until 7 years after the event either!

In another similar case another MP (what is it with MPs and speeding tickets?) claimed she wasn’t driving , in a slightly more involved case and was sentenced to three months, along with her brother who falsely claimed he was driving and got 10 months.

Courts tend to look very harshly on people doing this kind of thing as rather than just a lie on a speeding ticket its classed as “perverting the course of justice“.

Can the instructor or supervising driver also be fined or receive points?

The short answer is maybe.

I covered this in more detail in another post a few years ago, but a supervising driver could be prosecuted for aiding and abetting the offence.

There are even driving license offence codes for this. If you ever see an SP34 on a driving license it means the person received points for aiding and abetting speeding.

There would have to be an investigation into the circumstances, taking things like amount over the speed limit and length of time speeding, as well as dashcam audio or statements from both parties and so on.

Imagine a hypothetical red-light or speeding scenario where the driver was pulled over by a following police vehicle, and the dashcam footage had audio from the supervisor saying “keep going, there’s no-one around” or something along those lines, but the reality is its going to be rare, unless the learner claims otherwise as most red light or speeding offences are just detected by camera with no further investigation.


Because someone always asks “I haven’t received the NIP (Notice of Intended Prosecution) in 14 days of the alleged offence”

If the car isn’t registered to you don’t need to have. It’s only the registered keeper that needs to be served in 14 days.

If the NIP goes straight to you (assuming you’re the registered keeper) within 14 days, and you name the learner driver, it doesn’t have to reach them within that 14 days.


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