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Number of drivers with 12 or more penalty points increases

Drivers who have 12 or more penalty points on their driving licence increased by 9 per cent in seven months, bringing the total from 6,884 in March 2015 to 7,517 in October 2015.

Figures from the DVLA obtained by road safety charity Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) also reveal there are 13 people in Britain with more 28 or more penalty points – more than double the limit before a driving ban is usually enforced.

Currently the worst offender has 51 penalty points. The unnamed motorist from Oxford is a provisional licence holder and is still allowed to drive despite three speeding offences in a 30mph zone and seven offences of not providing driver details.

The second highest number of points is held by a driver in Liverpool and another in Basildon, both with 42 points. The latter racked up their share with seven offences, all for failing to report driver details, while the former also has seven offences on their licence.

The top ten also comprises a driver from Wigan who has 13 counts of exceeding the speed limit for a goods vehicle, giving a total of 39 penalty points. It is, however, unknown if this driver has been disqualified or not.

12 points on your licence should mean an automatic driving ban, but those who can prove the punishment would result in ‘exceptional hardship’ from being unable to drive are legally allowed to remain on the road.

Exceptional hardship refers to the punishment for the crime far outweighing the severity of the original crime. As in, the effect not being able to drive (the financial ramifications, for example) are much worse than the original crime committed (going a few miles per hour over the limit).

The DVLA said: “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.”

There are 45 million driving licence holders in the UK, three million of which have at least three penalty points. Around 100,000 were disqualified over the last four years, while four per cent received 12 points in one go.

IAM chief executive said: “The IAM has been highlighting this issue for several years now and we appreciate that the flow of information between the DVLA and the courts is slowly improving, which will allow the courts to make better decisions while armed with the full facts.

“However these improvements cannot come quickly enough to deliver a truly joined-up approach to the judicial process. Individual courts making decision on prosecutions can lead to inconsistency in how the law is applied which risks devaluing the simple ‘12 points and you’re out’ road safety message.

“If the public sees that persistent offenders are getting away with it, they may believe that road traffic rules – which let not us not forget, are designed for their safety – are ineffective or unimportant.”

Motorists who have penalty points are said to be paying £132million a year extra in increased insurance premiums.

One driver was legally still allowed on the road after obtaining a whopping 54 points.

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