When To Disclose Motoring Convictions

Published: 08th September 2008
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Motoring convictions can have long lasting effects. Even a minor speeding offense can have knock-on consequences such as higher car insurance premiums or even making it harder to lease or hire a car. Because of these consequences some people, when applying for car insurance, fail to mention that they have committed any such offenses. This however is breaking the law. Most car insurance companies will demand that you disclose any convictions you have on your record. There may, however be a disclaimer that states "not including motoring convictions not leading to periods of disqualification".

If on the insurance application no such disclaimer is present then you must disclose even fixed penalties, that is unless the conviction is considered to be spent under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 in which case no such offenses need to be disclosed.

If you don't confess to these motoring offenses then you are guilty of making false representation in order to obtain financial reward. This is a criminal offense, so if you do have any such convictions you need to think carefully about what you need to disclose and what you do not.

The Rehabilitation Act allows some convictions to be deemed spent after a rehabilitation period and therefore non disclosable. There are however a few exceptions. The length of the rehabilitation period is set according to the type of sentence passed not the offense committed but will be extended if further offenses are committed within the rehabilitation period. This is to stop repeat offenders benefiting from the Act.

A prison sentence of more than two and a half years never becomes spent under the Act. Prison sentences of between six months and two and a half years are spent after ten years for adults and prison sentences of less than six months are spent after seven years for adults.

Most motoring offenses don't warrant a prison sentence and usually result in a fixed penalty notice which includes a fine, points on the drivers licence and or disqualification from driving. Any points obtained will remain on a driving licence for three years but are not in themselves a conviction covered by the Rehabilitation Act. This means that it is any other penalty imposed at the same time that will determine the rehabilitation period. A disqualification is deemed spent as soon as it is ended but the conviction will still be disclosable until any other sentence that was passed is spent. If a fine is imposed then the rehabilitation period is five years, so that anyone who is disqualified for a short period of time or receives penalty points and a fine (as is usually the case) must disclose the conviction for a period of five yeas from the date of the conviction. If the disqualification exceeds the rehabilitation period for the other penalty imposed i.e. a disqualification of more than five years and a fine then the rehabilitation period is the length of the disqualification.

An exception to this is convictions for drink driving. Such a conviction remains on a drivers licence for ten years, as a mandatory extended disqualifications apply for subsequent offenses within a ten year period.

When applying for car insurance or for that matter a job, if you are unsure about what you need to disclose then speak to a solicitor. If you get it wrong you may find you have another conviction to your name. It should also be noted that providing false information when applying for car insurance could and probably will invalidate your indemnity.

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