Fixed Penalty Notices: all you need to know

Fixed Penalty Notices: all you need to know
Fixed penalty notices could be issued for a wide range of traffic and motoring offences, including speeding, driving without insurance or failing to wear a seatbelt.

In this guide, we’ll explore the fixed penalty notice in more detail, looking at what it is exactly, when you could receive one and what happens if you do.

Guide contents:

What is a Fixed Penalty Notice?

A Fixed Penalty Notice is an administrative alternative to prosecution before the magistrates’ court which includes a fine and in most cases penalty points too.

You will be issued a notice on the spot or through the post from the police. 

If you accept guilt, pay the fine or collect the points, you will avoid a court summons, but if you challenge it you will have to appear in court.

Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) were introduced during the 1950s and were designed to deal with minor parking offences. The 1988 Road Traffic Act introduced fixed penalty notices for a wider range of minor traffic offences.

Today, the role of the Fixed Penalty Notice has been expanded even further and might be used to deal with anything from anti-social behaviour to littering, and fly-tipping to dog control offences.

As far as motorists are concerned, here is the list of driving offences which can result in an FPN.

What's the difference between a Fixed Penalty Notice, Penalty Charge Notice and Parking Charge Notice?

Fixed Penalty Notices differ from Penalty Charge Notices and Parking Charge Notices.

What is a Penalty Charge Notice?

A Penalty Charge Notice is a council-issued fine that is predominantly issued for parking offences (parking on double yellows etc...) as well as breaking some traffic rules like going against a ‘no right turn’ sign or driving in a bus lane. 

You can also receive a Penalty Charge Notice for not paying the London Congestion Charge, low emission zone or Dartford Crossing Charge.

What is a Parking Charge Notice?

A Parking Charge Notice is a parking 'ticket' issued by a private company in private car parks, such as a supermarket or restaurant, and while they are often referred to as fines, they are little more than an invoice requesting payment and can often be disputed.

How much is the fine for a Fixed Penalty Notice?

A notice will be £50, £100, £200 or £300, depending on the severity, and will be used for a range of offences, including speeding, careless driving and using a mobile phone while driving.

How long do FPN penalty points stay on my licence for?

Not all offences carry penalty points, but the minimum awarded will be two points, with a maximum of 11. In some cases an immediate disqualification might be recommended.

Offence codes and penalty points remain on a driving licence for four or 11 years, depending on the offence.

What can I get a Fixed Penalty Notice for?

There are two types of fixed penalty notices: endorsable and non-endorsable.

An endorsable ticket means points on your licence – normally three points – while a non-endorsable ticket is a fine only.

In 2013, the government made changes to the Fixed Penalty Notice system – careless drivers who commit offences such as tailgating or poor lane discipline are likely to face on-the-spot fines. The fines also increased.

Here is a list of all of the offences that could result in a Fixed Penalty Notice (you'll notice drink-driving isn't on the list as this is deemed a more serious offence):

£50 non-endorsable FPN

£50 non-endorsable fixed penalty notice offences include:

  • Neglect of traffic regulations (e.g. failing to conform to traffic signs – give way, roundabout vehicle priority, box junction road markings)
  • Negligent use of motor vehicle (e.g. not in proper control, driver not having full view ahead, opening car door as to cause injury)
  • Vehicle registration and excise licence offences (e.g. registration mark not easily readable)
  • Motorway offences (e.g. stopping vehicle on hard shoulder)
  • Vehicle or part in dangerous or defective condition (e.g. window not clear and unobstructed, no windscreen wipers)
  • Neglect of pedestrian rights (e.g. not driving on the road)
  • Lighting offences (e.g. lamps not showing steady lights, misuse of head/fog lights)
  • Noise offences (e.g. causing unnecessary noise, sounding horn at night)
  • Load offences (e.g. exceeding weight restriction)
  • Cycle and motorcycle offences (e.g. cycling on footpath, motorcyclists not wearing protective headgear)

£100 endorsable FPN

£100 endorsable fixed penalty notice offences include:

  • Speeding offences
  • Careless driving (e.g. middle lane hogging and tailgating)
  • Motorway offences (e.g. reversing on a motorway, driving on hard shoulder/central reservation)
  • Neglect of traffic directions (e.g. not stopping at a red traffic light)
  • Neglect of pedestrian rights (e.g. stopping within limits of zebra/pelican/puffin crossing)
  • Load offences (e.g. danger of injury due to number of passengers or manner in which they are carried)
  • Motorcycle offences (e.g. carrying more than one passenger)

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£100 non-endorsable FPN

£100 non-endorsable fixed penalty notice offences include:

£200 endorsable FPN

£200 endorsable fixed penalty notice offences include:

£300 endorsable FPN

£300 endorsable fixed penalty offences include:

Driving without third party insurance

It’s worth noting that local authority enforcement officers might also issue fixed penalty notices for other motoring offences, including parking, selling/repairing vehicles at the roadside and abandoned vehicles.

It's worth noting that new car seat laws now mean you could get fine £500 for not having a the correct fitting car seat.

Can I appeal a Fixed Penalty Notice?

There is no formal appeal process for fixed penalty notices – if you’re not prepared to admit guilt for the alleged offence, the matter will be decided by a court.

However, this will be a costly and time-consuming process, so you should think carefully before appealing.

The fines imposed by a court will be greater than the original fixed penalty notice.

If you decide to challenge a fixed penalty notice, you’re advised to seek assistance from a solicitor or the Citizens Advice Bureau.

It is typical for speeders to try and appeal offences - but the fines can then become much more sever, find out more in our guide to speeding fines.

How do I pay a FPN?

How to pay a fixed penalty notice depends on what type it is and who issued it. You have 28 days in which to pay the fine and payment can be made via the Directgov website. You will need the notice number, date of offence and offence code, along with your email address and telephone number.

Alternatively you can pay by cheque or credit/debit card – the details of where to pay will be printed on the back of the ticket. Cash is no longer an acceptable form of payment.

If you accept the fine but then fail to pay, the fine is registered with the court and increased by 50%. The court will then enforce the fine and have the option of issuing a warrant for your arrest if you fail to respond.

What does the money for FPNs get spent on?

There are rules on how different authorities can use revenue from fixed penalty notices. Revenue from speed camera enforcement or fixed penalty notices go to the Consolidated Fund – in effect the government’s general bank account.

Did you know, you can get fined for moving out of the way of an ambulance?

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