Graduated Fixed Penalties

The fixed penalty system is an effective way of enforcing road traffic law for commercial vehicles as:

  • it preserves the right of individuals to challenge alleged offences in court 
  • it reduces the number of cases brought before the courts 
  • the system is widely accepted by the motoring public
  • it complies with human-rights legislation

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) can:

  • issue fixed penalties to the UK and non-UK residents, even if the offence means penalty points will be added to their driving licence
  • request a financial penalty deposit from any offender who has no fixed abode in the UK

Fixed penalties are graduated, meaning the amount can vary depending on the circumstances or the severity of the offence.

Currently, this approach is used in the case of offences such as breaches of drivers’ hour’s rules and the overloading of vehicles.

Fixed penalty notices can mean any of the following:

  • £ 50 fine - non-endorsable
  • £100 fine - non-endorsable or endorsable, 3 penalty points
  • £200 fine - non-endorsable or endorsable, 3 penalty points
  • £300 fine - non-endorsable

Deposit payments may be made for:

  • a fixed penalty
  • as a guarantee for a fine if a prosecution is to go to court

Alleged offenders can choose to contest the offence in court if they wish.

DVSA mainly use this system when dealing with commercial goods and passenger carrying vehicles, covering areas such as:

  • brakes
  • steering
  • drivers’ hours

However, a DVSA examiner can deal with any vehicle on the road, and issue a fixed-penalty notice/s if appropriate.

Examiners will issue graduated fixed penalties and financial deposits in line with the DVSA enforcement sanctions policy and apply discretion if and where necessary. 

Graduated Penalties

Graduated fixed penalties:

  • reflect the severity and circumstances of the offence and
  • help deter the more extreme offences

The main graduated offences cover:

  • commercial vehicle drivers’ hours
  • overloading

The penalties are graduated to reflect the:

  • length of time that a driver has spent driving or working over the legal limit
  • degree of shortfall below the necessary rest period
  • degree of overloading

The level of graduation is set out in legislation and is not at the discretion of the DVSA examiners. Each graduated offence band carries a different financial penalty.

Offences that can be dealt with by a fixed penalty but are not graduated carry a single fixed penalty amount.

Further Reading

Two pdf documents are available to download below. 

  • The VOSA Guide to Graduated Fixed Penalties and Financial Deposits – published in 2009 but still relevant.
  • The current DVSA Enforcement Sanction Policy – published in 2020 (392 pages)