Monday, 6 June 2011

10,000 maniacs: how the courts indulge some drivers who are repeat offenders

Normally when you clock up twelve points you lose your driving licence. However if you can persuade the court that taking away your right to drive would involve you in “exceptional hardship” then you may be allowed to continue driving. After a recent BBC documentary exposed the case of one driver who continued to clock up points way beyond the 12 point maximum and was still allowed to go on driving, I used the FOI to ask the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency how many drivers were currently on the roads in the UK, legally driving with 12 points or more on their licence. This is the reply I received. What it reveals is that a tiny, privileged minority are allowed to repeatedly offend, with courts indulging the offender’s desire to maintain the right to drive a car while repeatedly breaking road traffic law.

The following table shows the number of drivers in Great Britain who currently have more than 12 penalty points on their driving licence and have not been disqualified from driving by the Courts. These figures reflect the information held as at 16 May 2011.

Current Pts  Total no. of drivers

12 7,014

13 804

14 881

15 1,093

16 296

17 147

18 245

19 38

20 49

21 38

22 13

23 16

24 24

25 3

27 3

28 1

30 4

33 1

36 1

Grand Total 10,671

Whilst DVLA maintains a record of all GB fixed penalties and Court ordered endorsements, the Agency has no responsibility or influence on Court imposed sentences. Magistrates' Courts use Sentencing Guidelines published by The Magistrates' Association that provide a framework setting out how to establish the seriousness of each case and the most appropriate way of dealing with it. This helps ensure that any penalty reflects the seriousness of the offence and the personal circumstances of the offender.

In a small percentage of cases where the driver has accumulated 12 or more penalty points, the Agency understands that a Court can exercise its discretion and not disqualify the driver. In the majority of these cases, Magistrates may have decided to allow drivers to retain their entitlement to drive where it is considered that disqualification would cause exceptional hardship.

DVLA’s drivers database changes constantly as the Agency receives driving licence applications and other information that updates the records of individual drivers. Therefore, it is possible only to provide a snapshot of the state of the record at the time of any request. It should be noted that there can be a delay between the notification of penalty points and of disqualification. These can update the driver record separately.