More than 10,000 drivers escape ban despite full points

Motorists plead hardship to stay on the road after reaching maximum 12 penalties on licence

Thousands of British motorists have been allowed to carry on driving despite having amassed 12 or more penalty points on their licence.

Official figures obtained by The Independent on Sunday show that more than 10,000 motorists have totted up at least 12 points for offences including drink-driving, speeding, and failing to produce a specimen. One Bradford motorist is still on the road even though he or she has collected 32 points.

The DVLA confirmed yesterday that 3.8 million driving licence-holders were recorded as having current penalty points. Some 13,449 people are disqualified from driving by a court as a result of collecting 12 or more penalty points – meaning that more than four out of 10 drivers who hit the limit manage to keep their licences.

Although accumulating 12 or more points over a three-year period is usually enough to earn a driving ban of at least six months, many motorists have managed to escape the sanction by pleading that it would cause them undue hardship. Police officers claimed that driving standards were deteriorating, but warned that, even if every repeat offender received a ban, cuts to highway patrol budgets meant that the get-tough measures would be "ineffective".

"In our view, 12 points should lead to a ban," said Neil Greig, director of policy and research at the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM). "Anything above that risks bringing the whole system into disrepute. Clearly any court can hear mitigating circumstances but anyone with points on their licence can hardly plead ignorance of the law, having already had interaction with the points system."

Guidelines from the Sentencing Council state that serious offences such as drink-driving carry an obligatory ban of at least a year. But where the defendant has already amassed 12 penalty points from lesser offences, a ban of at least six months is discretionary. Courts can impose sentences short of a ban where a disqualification would cause a defendant, or others who depend on them, "exceptional hardship".

In March, Nuneaton Town Football Club chairman Ian Neale escaped a driving ban after magistrates agreed it would cause him, and the employees of his building company, exceptional hardship. Barry Cox, a Shepton Mallet taxi driver, was spared a ban in May after a penalty for driving without insurance left him with 12 points on his licence. Mr Cox pleaded he would suffer exceptional hardship – including the loss of his job – if he were disqualified. Llanelli magistrates agreed not to ban 67-year-old Gwenlais Thomas when she reached 12 points after being caught using a mobile phone at the wheel. They decided she needed the car because of a medical condition and the equipment she needed to carry around with her.

The Driver Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) revealed that on 6 August, 10,072 drivers in Great Britain had 12 or more current penalty points, but were still entitled to drive. The figures, obtained under freedom of information legislation, show that more than 120 motorists had 20 or more points, seven have 30 or more and one, in Bradford, has 32.

Stephen White from the Police Federation said the courts had the responsibility to impose the correct sentences on consistent offenders. He added: "There is anecdotal evidence emerging of a rise in driving offences and bad driving behaviour which we put down to a reduction of police force roads policing units in recent years and the lack of police patrol on the motorway network. The reality is, while courts could ban as many people as they consider appropriate, without sufficient police officer enforcement it may largely ineffective."

Chris Hunt-Cooke, chairman of the Magistrates' Association road traffic committee, said some repeat offenders could dodge bans if the courts were not given full access to their records. He said: "Hardship to others is more significant than to the driver himself, as those others have nothing to do with his offences. Naturally the court is dependent on full information being available to it on the day it is considering disqualification."

A DVLA spokesperson said: "The DVLA's role is to record the information provided by the courts. We recently concluded a review into how we communicate with the courts, and will implement any necessary changes to make sure that there are rigorous processes in place so that only those who are entitled to drive are allowed to hold a licence."

Arts and Entertainment
filmPoldark production team claims innocence of viewers' ab frenzy
Life and Style
Google marks the 81st anniversary of the Loch Ness Monster's most famous photograph
techIt's the 81st anniversary of THAT iconic photograph
News
Katie Hopkins makes a living out of courting controversy
people
News
General Election
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Office Administrator

    £14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Office Administrator is requ...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - Commercial Vehicles - OTE £40,000

    £12000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to expansion and growth of ...

    Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer - Sheffield - £50,000

    £40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer position with a...

    Recruitment Genius: Operations Leader - Plasma Processing

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An Operations Leader is required to join a lea...

    Day In a Page

    Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

    Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

    His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
    'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

    Open letter to David Cameron

    Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
    Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

    You don't say!

    Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
    Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

    So what is Mubi?

    Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
    The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

    The hardest job in theatre?

    How to follow Kevin Spacey
    Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

    Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

    To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
    Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

    'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

    The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
    Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

    This human tragedy has been brewing for years

    EU states can't say they were not warned
    Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

    Women's sportswear

    From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
    Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

    Clinton's clothes

    Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
    NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

    Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

    A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
    How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

    How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

    Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
    From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

    The wars that come back to haunt us

    David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders