March 2, 2022
Over the past few years there have been many changes to driving laws, including changes for 2022, some of which tend to catch drivers out as they aren’t fully aware of the exact alterations.
For example, a previous loophole related to drivers using their phone when behind the wheel has been closed in 2022, meaning people can now be fined £200 with 6 points on their licence if they are holding their phone for any reason.
But which offences have caught UK drivers out the most over the last couple of years? We sent FOI requests to local police forces, and used government and DVLA data, to find out which driving fines were costing the public the most money and which areas had the highest and lowest driving fine totals.
UK drivers are paying £25,279,010 more in fines than in 2015
Research into the fine amounts for driving offences shows that the overall average cost per fine has increased by £58 since 2015, going from £283 to £341 in the last full year’s figures. This has mainly been a consistent increase year on year, other than a £1 drop in 2019, which had an average of £331 compared to 2018’s £332.
As there were 435,845 people fined for driving offences in 2020, UK drivers have paid £25,279,010 more than they were in fines back in 2015.
This will likely be a concern to UK drivers who get on the wrong side of the law, as the trend seems to suggest that the average fine amounts will continue to increase over the next few years.
Dangerous Driving costs UK drivers the most on average
We also looked at exactly which offence was costing UK drivers the most in fines. In the latest full year of Government data that has been released, the average fine amount for dangerous driving in the UK was £690, which was by far the highest average figure of all offences.
A person is considered to be driving dangerously if the way they drive falls far below what would be expected of a competent and careful driver, and it would be obvious to a competent and careful driver that driving in that way would be dangerous.
The second highest average fine amount was for ‘failing to supply information as to the identity of a driver when required’, which is when a notification of an intended prosecution is sent to the registered keeper of a vehicle and is subsequently ignored. The average fine for this crime was at £636 in 2020, with 72,862 people fined throughout the year.
Rounding out the top three for the highest average fine amount was ‘vehicle insurance offences’, which was at £426, with 93,423 people being fined at Magistrates’ Court.
Average Dangerous Driving fine is up £317 since 2015
It wasn’t always the case that dangerous driving would put UK drivers out of pocket by so much, as the fines for this particular offence have increased massively since 2015. Back then, the average fine amount for dangerous driving was £373, which has increased to an eye-watering £690, £317 more on average. Many other drivers will welcome this change, as the punishment for being unsafe on the roads is growing each year.
The vast majority of driving offences have seen their average fine amounts increase over the years, but there are three that have decreased. Fraud and forgery of vehicle or driver records decreased the most, falling by £32 since 2015.
Work record and employment offences also fell by £28 on average, decreasing from £299 in 2015 to £267 in 2020, while causing danger by interfering with a vehicle, road or traffic equipment dropped by £22 on average. It remains to be seen whether these trends will continue over the next few years, as the average fines for the majority of other driving offences tend to increase.
Warwickshire drivers pay the most in fines
During our research, we also looked into which areas were the highest for average driving fine amounts, with quite a large discrepancy between the highest and the lowest. Drivers in Warwickshire lead the way for paying the most in driving fines, with an average payment of £467.
Taking second place in this unwanted list are drivers in Northamptonshire, with an average fine of £428, followed by £413 for those in the West Midlands. Wiltshire is also in the top five, with locals forking out £391 on average if they are found guilty of a driving offence in Magistrates’ Court. Rounding out the top five is Northumbria, with drivers handing over £386 when found guilty.
Norfolk drivers pay the least in driving fines
When looking at the other end of the scale, it might pay to live in the Norfolk area after committing a driving offence, as they have the lowest average fine amounts in the UK. They sat at just £271 for the last full year of data, just £5 lower than Dyfed-Powys at £276 and £9 less than North Wales at £280. Sussex and Suffolk are in the bottom five too, with average driving fine amounts of £292 and £297 respectively.
We sent FOI requests to 42 local police forces in the UK, and used government statistics, to research the amount collected in fines for driving offences, as well as the number of people that have been found guilty and fined for each driving offence via Magistrates’ Court, since 2015. The Gov.uk statistics were found via the Motoring Data Tool, which we filtered to show the average fine amounts for each offence in each year, both on an overall country and local region scale.