Rehabilitation Of Offenders Act 1974

A drink driving conviction is considered spent after 5 years. However, the conviction will remain on your licence for 11 years from date of conviction.


I need to find out if you can help? I was banned for drink driving, I got my driving licence back last year.

I am currently applying for naturalization as a British citizen – Form AN and under section 3 – Good Character Requirements, I have to include any criminal offences i.e. Drink Driving included.

My application requires me to have spent my conviction under Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, within here lies my problem.

From looking into this, I haven’t spent my conviction, because I originally got 16 months, reduced to 12 by completing a driver’s awareness course (HAPAS) and received a £200 fine. Now from my understanding of how this works, I will have to wait until 5 years are over after my original conviction date?

Reading your website, is it possible to reduce this and get my conviction spent early, so this would not affect my naturalization?

Your help and or guidance would be appreciated.


Dominic Says:

On the face of it, it doesn’t look like there is going to be anything you can do.

If you went to court and you were convicted, there are only two things you can do to try to overturn that.

The first would be to make an application to reopen the proceedings under section 142 of the Magistrates Court Act 1980. This would reopen the conviction and the plea. However, the court will only set aside the conviction and plea if you will want to advance a positive defence case, such as driving because of an emergency, drinking after driving or because your drinks were laced, something along those lines, otherwise there is no point in doing it.

Therefore you will need a positive case to answer, and unfortunately applying for naturalisation will not be enough.

If you have no case to advance, and you are simply asking for the court to set aside your conviction because you want to apply for naturalisation, they simply will not reopen.

The second way of overturning a conviction is to appeal to the Crown Court. However I envisage two major problems with that. The first is that you only have 21 days to appeal, and any appeal lodged out of that time has to be explained and can only be granted with the permission of a Crown Court Judge.

So unless we have an exceedingly good reason for being out of time it is likely to be refused at the first step. The second problem is that even if agreed, because you pleaded guilty we would only be appealing the sentence meaning we wouldn’t be able to get rid of the fine and the subsequent conviction. So I’m not sure it would help anyway.

You have correctly understood the law in relation to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act. I don’t know how much weight they will attach to the conviction I’m afraid. That’s not my area of expertise and you need an immigration lawyer’s help in that regard.


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