Major insurers and experts have warned that proposals from Scottish government to reduce the period before a motoring conviction is spent, to just 12 months instead of the current five years, would have serious consequences. They have said that it would mean that honest drivers would see an increase in their premiums, it would cause confusion between Scotland and the rest of the country, and it would possibly lead to some insurers simply opting to pull out of Scotland altogether.
Under the current rules, if a driver accumulates 12 points over a three year period, they face automatic disqualification under the totting up procedure. Penalty points remain on a person’s licence for a period of four years, but even when points are removed from the licence, the conviction has not been officially spent.
Driving convictions are only spent after a period of five years, which is why insurers ask for details of any driving convictions for the past five years, despite the fact that endorsements do not show up on a person’s licence after four years. Insurers use this information in order to be able to determine those drivers that pose the greatest risk; those that are statistically more likely to cause or be involved in an accident.
Drivers that have convictions are typically charged a higher premium for their insurance, and major insurers have said that this also enables them to keep premiums for non-offenders down. They have warned that any change to the system would mean that they would be unable to determine which drivers are a greater risk, and that this would inevitably mean that they would have to increase premiums for all drivers, so that it would ultimately be honest and careful drivers that were punished.
Critics of the proposed changes have also said that it would remove one of the most effective deterrents that currently exist to prevent motorists from breaking the law. They have said that motorists are more likely to abide by motoring laws after a conviction, until the end of the period when that conviction is spent, and that by reducing this from five years to 12 months would mean that more drivers would be likely to offend more often.