What is the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act?

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If you have already been convicted of a motoring offence, you may be wondering if and how it will affect your future. The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (1974) aims to help you get back into employment after staying on the right side of the law.Looking back over your past behaviour on the road

What are 'Spent' Convictions?

The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act is designed to help people who have cautions and convictions to get back into the workplace, it also relates quite closely to motoring offences. All cautions and convictions may eventually become 'spent' after a period of time, with the exception of those who have custodial sentences or youth detention sentences exceeding 4 years in length or any sentence imposed for public protection regardless of its length.

The aim of the Act is to make sure that you don't have a permanent blot on your record in relation to relatively minor offences from your past. In most cases where a conviction has been spent, you won't have to reveal it, or admit it even existed.

What Does This Mean for You?

An endorsement or fixed penalty notice (FPN) is classed as a sentence for the purposes of the Act, these convictions often become spent after 5 years.

If your driving disqualification or penalty points were imposed by a court, they become spent when they cease to have effect. So if you were disqualified from driving for 1 year, your conviction will become spent at the end of your disqualification. However, if you were disqualified for less than 12 months and were fined at the same time as being disqualified a longer rehabilitation period will apply – namely 1 year as this is the rehabilitation period that applies in the event of fine being imposed.

If, for example, you were driving without due care and attention and receive 6 points, these points would stay on your licence for 3 years as set out in road traffic legislation. Similarly, if you were convicted of a road traffic offence and you received an endorsement on your licence and penalty points, the rehabilitation length of the rehabilitation period would relate to the endorsement because this carries a longer rehabilitation period.

Dealing with spent convictions can become tricky especially when applying for a job that requires you to use a vehicle. Limiting the effect a conviction can have on your record is one way of making sure the Act applies to you in the most favourable way. For example, a fine carries a 1 year rehabilitation period from the date of imposition whilst prison sentences of 6 months or less are spent 2 years after the sentence expiration.

A community order carries a rehabilitation period of 2 years from the date of sentence ending whilst a conditional discharge carries a rehabilitation period which mirrors the length of the discharge. An absolute discharge is spent immediately on being imposed.

Julie Robertson, our Motoring Offences Partner in Manchester, has helped those on the wrong side of the rules of the road receive fewer penalty points on their licence. Julie also helps clients to achieve more favourable sentences such as discharges or financial penalties as opposed to community or custodial sentences, making their rehabilitation period shorter. This can be a life saver especially if your work requires you to drive. She has also helped those who would have received penalty points pay for their misconduct by way of a fine.

Get Advice Today

Getting motoring legal advice has never been easier or more affordable. Simpson Millar LLP offer a transparent fee structure so you'll know exactly how much it costs to take on your case. For those that just need an hour of our time, we also offer hourly paying rates.

Don’t let a minor indiscretion tarnish your record for years, speak to a specialist motoring solicitor to find out where you stand.


To find out how we could help you please make a no-obligation enquiry or call freephone: 0808 129 3320.




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