After passing your driving test, there’s a lifetime of freedom and enjoyment awaiting you. But with great power comes great responsibility, and drivers who break the rules risk punishment. Depending on the offence, you may receive points—known as endorsements—on your licence. And, since the New Drivers Act of 1995 came into force, accumulating 6 points within your first 2 years of driving will cause your licence to be revoked.
Having your driving licence revoked effectively means that it has been cancelled. You won’t be allowed to drive again until you’ve got a new provisional licence, which you have to pay for again. Once you've received that, you’ll be subject to the same rules as any other learner driver. You can only drive with a full licence again when you’ve proven you can drive safely—by resitting both the theory and practical tests.
Revocation isn’t the same as a driving disqualification, which is often reserved for more serious offences, such as drink—or drug—driving. Getting disqualified from driving means that you are banned from getting behind the wheel for a certain period of time, although you will not usually have to resit your test.
Most driving offences can earn you endorsements on your driving licence. Speeding, following another vehicle too closely, or not having insurance can all result in points on your licence—as can other, less obvious, offences, like failing to tell the DVLA when you move house.
The punishment is proportionate to the severity of the offence, with some offences, like driving while on the phone, earning you 6 points. As a new driver, that means your driving licence will be revoked immediately if you’re caught texting behind the wheel. Even the least serious endorsable offences carry penalties of 3 points—blow your second chance, and you'll be back to square one.
Yes, the points count from the date you committed the driving offence, and not the date you receive a letter telling you about it (or the date you send your licence back, for that matter). It’s if you commit offences that lead to 6 points within 2 years of holding a full driving licence that you face a revocation.
Example scenario 1
Maya has held her licence since 10th May, 2018. She already has 3 points on her licence because of a prior driving offence.
On the 7th May, 2020, she speeds in a 30mph zone, and, although she doesn’t realise it, a mobile police camera catches her at it. On the 12th May, Maya gets a letter telling her that another 3 points will be added to her licence—and because this will equal 6 points in total, her licence is being revoked.
Even though she only hears about the offence after she’s been driving for 2 years, the revocation still stands. This is because she committed the speeding offence during the 2 year probationary period.
The 24-month probationary period isn’t a punishment for new drivers; it’s in place to protect all road users against inexperience. Sure, you’ve nailed your practical test, but driving solo is a whole other venture. It takes time—and a lot of journeying—to build experience.
The limit is also there to emphasise the importance of following the rules of the road. It’s amazing how quickly bad habits can form when there’s no longer anyone there to remind you to watch your speed, or check your mirrors. Having your licence revoked for 2 relatively minor offences—which, combined, make 6 points—might seem harsh, but taking a step back and reassessing your driving skills is far better than risking a more serious incident.
If you manage to rack up 6 points within 2 years, then you’re already well on the way to facing a lengthy disqualification—which usually occurs when you reach 12 points over 3 years. A reminder of the rules of the road would be beneficial before you’re let loose on your own again.
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As a learner, you’re held to the same standard as any qualified driver—which means you can receive points if you break the law. They go on your provisional licence; any endorsements that are still valid are then transferred to your full driving licence when you pass your test.
These points will count towards your 6 point limit during your 2 year probationary period.
According to the DVLA, getting 6 points on your provisional licence will not prevent you from sitting your practical test. However, if you acquire any more points during the 2 years after passing, your licence will be revoked immediately.
If you receive 12 points on your provisional licence, you’ll go to court—and chances are your provisional licence would be revoked. This would stop you from taking the practical test for the time being.
Example scenario 2
While Razi was learning to drive, he picked up 7 penalty points. After he passed his practical test, those points were transferred to his full licence. Razi made sure to drive really carefully after that, and didn’t accrue any more endorsements within his first 2 years of holding a full licence. He still holds his licence.
Example scenario 3
Daphne collected 3 points as a learner driver. She passed her test, and a year later was given another 3 points. She now has a total of 6 points. Because she reached the 6 point limit as a fully qualified driver, her licence is revoked. She has to reapply for a provisional licence and pass both driving tests before she can drive on her own again.
Of course, the best way to avoid points on your licence is to make sure you’re fully prepared for driving alone before you take your test. This means making sure you have enough hours of driving under your belt, preferably under instruction from a competent driving instructor.
Build your experience by taking advantage of the rules allowing learners to drive on motorways during lessons, and don’t be afraid to ask your instructor questions throughout your course.
Unfortunately, it’s not possible to cover every eventuality during your driving lessons. Once you’re safely through your test, it might be a good idea to check out Pass Plus courses, to get you confident on driving in different situations and conditions. Taking a Pass Plus course can also help you cut the costs of your young driver insurance premiums.
If you’re caught for an endorsable offence, the only way to avoid getting the points is if you are offered a course, like a speed awareness course, as an alternative. Eligibility depends on a number of factors, such as whether you’ve already been on a course within the previous 3 years, or have already been convicted of that same offence (e.g. speeding) within that time.
If you’ve had your licence revoked, you need to go through the whole learning to drive process again. Start by filling out an application for a new provisional licence. When that’s through, you’ll be able to book a theory test. You’ve already passed it once, but don’t get too cocky—brush up on your theory knowledge and work on your hazard perception skills before heading to the test centre.
If you have trouble booking either of your tests, contact the DVLA directly. It may be that they need to manually remove a block on your account.
Remember that you won’t be able to practice on your own in the car anymore; you'll need an experienced driver to be with you just as you did the first time you learnt to drive. The insurance you previously had won't cover you as a learner, either. Instead, take a few driving lessons to prepare for your practical test. A short course is likely to help you pass again first time—and prevent you spending even more time and money on getting your licence back. It also means you can take the test in your instructor's car, so you don't have to worry about making sure your own car is suitable for the practical test.
Want to get your licence back as quickly as possible? Our fast-track system means we can beat practical test waiting lists by weeks—or even months!
Yes, the points will remain on your driving record for the amount of time it takes for them to be expunged (4 or 11 years, depending on the offence).
However, the New Drivers Act only allows licences to be revoked once. Getting more points on your new licence won’t cancel it in the same way again. But if you continue to accrue points, you’ll probably end up being banned from driving for a time.
No, this is a misunderstanding of the New Drivers Act. It’s the type of offence that determines how many points you receive, not the length of time you’ve been driving. However, you don’t have as much leeway on your licence as a more experienced driver would, as only new drivers (those driving within 2 years of passing their practical) can have their licence revoked after getting 6 points.
No, you would usually only have to take an extended test if you get disqualified from driving—and only then if the court orders that you must. After you’ve had your licence revoked, you’ll just need to book a normal practical test.
The probationary period counts for 2 years after you pass your practical test and become a fully qualified driver. You might drive a lot, a bit, or not at all during those 2 years. Whatever the case, as soon as those 24 months are up, you no longer risk getting your licence revoked if you build up 6 points.
This might not seem fair, because, although they often go hand in hand, time doesn’t equal experience. However, laws are meaningless if they can’t be enforced, and this is a practical way to gauge if someone is fairly new to driving.
The '6 points within 2 years' rule isn’t just for new drivers who passed their test in the UK. It also applies if you got your licence in the Isle of Man, Channel Islands, Gibraltar, EU or EEA and are driving in the UK within the first 2 years of receiving that licence.
Nor do you necessarily have to be a first-time driver. If you’ve had to take another test in the UK to obtain a full licence—for example, as part of the process of exchanging a foreign licence to a British one—your 2 year probation starts as soon as you’ve passed that.
The law is designed for new drivers—so, if you’ve had a different full UK licence for more than 2 years, then your probationary period is already up. If that’s the case, accumulating 6 points on your category B (car) driving licence—even within the first 2 year period—wouldn’t see your licence revoked.
However, you still need to watch out—12 points within any 3 year period can lead to you being banned from driving.
Your current insurance will be based on you possessing a full driving licence, so it will not cover you after your licence is revoked.
Once you've passed your test again, make sure you are insured to drive on your full licence before hitting the roads. Penalty points will usually affect the cost of your insurance, and you must declare them. If you don't, your insurance may be invalidated—and you could end up with even more endorsements on your driving licence.
Often when you re-pass your test following a revocation, your new licence will often keep the same ‘valid from’ date as your old one. In reality, you may have gone a long time in between your first and second licences, during which period you were not qualified. Your best bet in this instance is to give the insurer a ring, and be up front with them about the situation. They will be able to advise you further.
Lots of driving offences, like speeding and driving without insurance, are strict liability offences. That means that you would have a very hard time challenging your conviction in court, because you are usually found guilty if there’s proof you committed the offence, even if you didn’t realise you were doing anything wrong.
You should also be aware that new drivers can’t use the ‘exceptional hardship’ defence. You may be able to use a ‘special arguments’ reason, but it’s best to take legal advice on this, which could get expensive.
Remember, if your licence is revoked, you can reapply for a provisional immediately. With a quick theory test and a fast-tracked practical, you could be back on the roads pretty quickly.
Whether you've just got your licence for the first time—or have had to retake your test to get it back—the most important is that you keep safe. Take a look at our other driving tips to help you keep your licence for good.