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 conditional offer of fixed penalty in more detail, looking at what it is exactly, when you could receive one and what happens if you do.

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What is a Fixed Penalty Notice?

A Fixed Penalty Notice, or a conditional offer of fixed penalty 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 parking company in private car parks, such as a supermarket or restaurant.

While they are often referred to as fines, they are little more than an invoice requesting payment as a perceived breach of agreement between the car park operator and the driver.

This means they can be disputed, especially in light of a new RAC-backed code of conduct aimed at cracking down on rogue private parking firms.

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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 without a valid reason)
  • 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 and reckless overtaking)
  • Motorway offences (e.g. reversing on a motorway, driving on hard shoulder/central reservation, using lanes marked with red ‘X’ signs)
  • 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)
  • Unrestrained animals (e.g. distraction from unsecured dogs in the back seat)

£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:

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.

And they could soon be authorised to take on more responsibility as MPs are looking to grant more powers to councils to enforce traffic laws, easing the burden on overstretched police forces.   

It's worth noting that new car seat laws now mean you could get fined £500 for not having 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 in 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 severe. 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.

People also ask:

  • Is a fixed penalty notice a criminal record?

    No. A fixed penalty is issued by the police for minor offences and isn’t classed as a criminal conviction.

    If you pay the fine on time, that’s the end of the matter and all liability for the offence is discharged. It will not form part of a criminal record.

  • How long does a fixed penalty notice stay on your record?

    Provided you pay an FPN within the time limit you won’t get a criminal conviction, so you won’t have a criminal record for it.

    If the offence results in penalty points, they will remain on your driving record for four or 11 years depending on the severity of the misdemeanour.

  • Does a fixed penalty notice show on a DBS check?

    An FPN is not a conviction, so it will not show up on a background check that focuses on criminal history. It is also not classed as a caution or reprimand.

    It would only appear if you refused to pay the fine or challenged it and were found guilty by the court as this would be classed as a conviction.

  • Is a speed awareness course a fixed penalty notice?

    If you’re caught committing a minor speeding offence, you’re likely to be offered the option of attending a speed awareness course as an alternative to a fixed penalty notice and points on your licence.

    An FPN for speeding is usually £100 and, on top of that, you’ll receive three points on your licence. This will increase your insurance premium, so opting for a speed awareness course usually works out to be less costly.

  • What happens if I ignore a fixed penalty notice?

    If you fail to respond to an FPN, it will be referred to the magistrates’ court. You can either then plead guilty by letter or choose to go to court. If found guilty, you’re likely to be given a larger fine and will have to pay the court costs.

    Failure to pay will result in further action, and the court could issue a warrant for your arrest.

  • How long do I have to pay a fixed penalty notice?

    You have 28 days to pay the fine. Payment can be made online via the Home Office website.

  • How long does it take for a fixed penalty notice to arrive?

    If you were not issued with an on-the-spot fine by a police officer – for example, you were caught by a speed camera – you will be sent a notice of intended prosecution (NIP) letter within 14 days.

    You must return the completed Section 172 notice within 28 days, telling the police who was driving the car. You’ll then usually be sent a fixed penalty notice. You can either plead guilty and accept the fine or not guilty and go to court.

  • How long do the police have to issue a fixed penalty notice?

    The police have six months from the date of the alleged motoring offence to issue a fixed penalty notice. Initially, they have 14 days to serve a notice of intended prosecution (NIP) to the registered keeper of the vehicle involved.

    Once the NIP has been returned and the driver identified, the police must decide what action to take, usually by issuing a fixed penalty notice or driver training request.

  • How do I get out of a fixed penalty notice?

    You can contest the fixed penalty notice, but this means appearing in court. There will be information on how to challenge the FPN on the reverse of the ticket and you may wish to seek legal advice.

    You could be exonerated if you can demonstrate that:

      • No offence was committed, or the FPN was wrongly issued
      • The offence was committed by someone else
      • There were technical errors in the police procedure
    • Where is the notice number on a fixed penalty notice?

      When you pay an FPN you will need to know the notice number. This is a 16-digit number found in the top right-hand corner of the ticket.

      The number is made up of the force code + notice type + source + ticket number + payment code.

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