Fixed Penalty Notices

Fixed penalty notices (FPNs) are fines levied on a person, for a specific offence and for a certain amount. No prosecution is involved so no criminal record is created. Essentially, they were created to provide a quick and easy way of addressing minor offences.

They were originally developed to solve parking problems when parking in London streets started creating problems for the local police, but they are now used to penalise a variety of minor violations without having to pursue a long and costly prosecution.

The enforcement and payment of most FPNs have been automated to the extent that it can now mostly be done online.

FPNs can be issued for a number of violations including those connected to environmental issues, anti-social behaviour and public disorder offences and motoring.

Environmentally related FPNs

Fixed penalty notices (FPNs) can be issued by a variety of agencies such as local authorities, the Environment Agency, police, community support officers and the National Park Authority to deal with environmental offences such as:

  • littering
  • fly-tipping
  • dog control offences
  • graffiti
  • fly-posting
  • nuisance parking (people selling or repairing cars on the road)
  • abandoned vehicles
  • leafleting without permission on land where leafleting is restricted (‘designated land’)
  • failing to nominate a key holder or give the council key holder details in an alarm notification area
  • failing to provide a waste carrier licence (for businesses transporting their own waste)
  • failing to provide a waste transfer note when moving non-hazardous waste.

These FPNs can be issued to anyone over the age of ten and penalties can be range from £40 for domestic waste receptacle offences to up to £500 for exceeding permitted noise levels on licensed premises.

When FPNs are issued to juveniles, the enforcement officers should:

  • always be in uniform;
  • never touch a young person;
  • approach from the front, not behind;
  • identify themselves and offer formal identification;
  • ideally work in pairs.

If these FPN penalties are not paid within 14 days, legal action can be taken and the offender can be taken to court. The enforcement authority must begin legal proceedings within six months of the offence.

Antisocial behaviour and public disorder

Section 1 of the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001 lists a number of offences for which an on the spot FPN can be issued. These include:

  • being drunk in a highway, other public place or licensed premises;
  • throwing fireworks in a thoroughfare;
  • trespassing on a railway;
  • throwing stones etc. at trains or other things on railways;
  • sale of alcohol to a person under 18;
  • disorderly behaviour while drunk in a public place;
  • wasting police time or giving false report;
  • destroying or damaging property;
  • using public telecommunications system for sending message known to be false in order to cause annoyance;
  • behaviour likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress;
  • depositing and leaving litter;
  • consumption of alcohol in designated public place;
  • using public electronic communications network to cause annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety;
  • knowingly giving a false alarm of fire.

Motoring related FPNs

There are different types of FPNs for motoring law infringements. An FPN is a conditional offer: you can agree to pay the fine and/or accept the penalty points on your licence within 28 days and the matter will be considered closed or you can reject the offer and have the matter dealt with in court. If you get found guilty in court though, the fine you face is likely to much higher than that imposed by a FPN.

Endorsable offences

This type of fixed penalty notice will result in the motorist receiving penalty points. The driver will be asked to give up their licence so the penalty stamps can be made.
Endorseable offences which carry a £100 fine include:

  • some speeding offences (speeds that are in excess of a certain margin are automatically forwarded for prosecution, however, and no conditional offer will be made);
  • tailgating, reversing, middle lane hogging, driving on the hard shoulder or central reservation on a motorway;
  • carrying more than one passenger on a motorbike
  • not stopping at red traffic light or a zebra, pelican or puffin crossing.

Endorseable offences which carry a £200 fine include:

  • failing to identify a driver;
  • using a hand held mobile phone while driving.

Endorseable offences which carry a £300 fine include:

  • driving without third-party insurance.

Non-endorseable offences

The non-endorsable FPN won’t add penalty points to your licence.

Non-endorseable offences which carry a £50 fine include:

  • not following traffic signs;
  • negligent use of motor vehicle;
  • registration mark not easily readable;
  • stopping vehicle on hard shoulder of a motorway;
  • windows not clear and unobstructed, no windscreen wipers;
  • driving elsewhere than on the road;
  • lamps not showing a steady light, misuse of head or fog lamps;
  • causing unnecessary noise, sounding horn at night;
  • exceeding weight restriction;
  • cycling on a foot path, not wearing protective headgear for motorcyclists.

Non-endorseable offences which carry a £100 fine include:

  • failure to wear a seat belt while driving;
  • using a vehicle without an MOT.

Other Important Information

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About the Author

Nicola Laver LLB

Nicola is a dual qualified journalist and non-practising solicitor. She is a legal journalist, editor and author with more than 20 years' experience writing about the law.

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