Road Safety News

Almost half of drivers with 12 points avoid disqualification

Thursday 20th October 2011

Brake, the road safety charity, is claiming that almost half of drivers with 12 penalty points on their licence have not been disqualified from driving.

Brake and Direct Line analysed data provided by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) and found that 10,072 drivers (43%) with 12 points or more have kept their licence and are still driving, while 13,449 drivers with 12 points or more are disqualified.

Although drivers can expect a ban of at least six months when they reach 12 points, Brake says that many are successfully pleading that disqualification would cause ‘exceptional hardship’.

Julie Townsend, Brake’s campaigns director, said: “We are asking the Government to act quickly to address this appalling situation. Clearly when the points system was designed, it wasn’t intended that nearly half of drivers with 12 points would evade disqualification.

“It is outrageous these individuals, who rack up offence after offence, are allowed to continue driving, causing enormous risk to the public.

“Drivers who repeatedly flout traffic laws have shown complete disregard for the lives of other road users. They have also had ample opportunity to desist breaking the law before reaching 12 points and facing disqualification.

“It’s time for the Government to get tough with these selfish, irresponsible and potentially deadly drivers, and put a stop to their illegal and dangerous driving before it results in a devastating crash.”

For more information contact Ellen Booth, from Brake, on 01484 550067.


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When the decision was made that 12 points would lead to an automatic ban there were many times fewer speed cameras on the roads than today. I received 3 points when driving down a very steep hill. My foot was cramping so I momentarily took my foot off the break. By the time I started breaking again the speed had drifted up to 35 in a 39 limit and I had been photographed. It is possible to be banned at 2 or 3 mph over the limit. This punishment is far too severe.
Dave Richmond

Agree (60) | Disagree (3)

I think warnings should be issued before a fine and points are added to someone's licence. Give them a chance to realise and be more careful! Sometimes you're only driving slightly faster and sometimes it's a road that has a low speed limit when it doesn't need to. It annoys me that people will drive recklessly on the roads and never get caught but someone can go 34 MPH and get caught!
Abby, Grimsby

Agree (51) | Disagree (4)

The way I see it, they should either have speed cameras on the main road or speed camera vans but having these both is wrong. It should be one or the other because a speed camera you can see on the main road but a van hiding around a corner is not good because the camera van should be seen not hidden. I think there should be a petition put up to abolish either the speed camera on the road side or abolish the speed camera van.
Gaz, Lancashire

Agree (112) | Disagree (24)

Not every case is the same. 12 points doesn't mean you deserve the ban. I got my first points ever on 2011 (6 - driving without insurance when I was 100% sure my wife got one few days earlier, but she just quoted it by mistake. Second offence 2014 - using mobile phone (nothing in my defence - was typing postcode on satnav whilst driving - got AA course to avoid points). Third one 2014 - exceeded speed limit by 5mph (35 on 30 limit, about 100 yards after it changed form 40 to 30). First speeding ticket ever. Finally last one - today - 2014 - using mobile phone. I was waiting in the queue and just checked who called me. It's not the same when you drive and texting or speaking then not moving and just take a quick look. By the law it is. I know it was totally stupid, but it was not dangerous at all to do so. If I would get a bottle of water, open it and drink - I would not be even stopped, and it's definitely more disturbing than a quick look on the screen. Anyway, I'm a HGV driver with 10 years experience, driving very carefully with respect to the other road users. Never had any accident (except ones which were not my fault). Are my offences comparable to serious overspeeding or dangerous driving? Losing a job because of wife's mistake, exceeding speed 5mph and holding mobile phone for few seconds on queue although is my fault (law is law), is just not very fair.

Agree (302) | Disagree (29)

Years ago if you were caught speeding it was because a police officer followed you and then switched on the blue light to pull you over. But more to the point any judgment call was made there and then - the policeman would evaluate all circumstances including your overall driving style, have you been drinking, smoking pot, or did you just do 36 in a 30 at 3:00am when in reality it hardly mattered a jot. 10-2-1 providing you were polite and respectful to the policeman and your documents were valid TAX and insurance, then you would get a good ear bending and sent on your way … you even get a caution with a 7-day wonder to produce documents at a local police station.

However someone invented speed cameras and on-board CCTV - and the judgment call was taken away from the police officer and no matter what, you get min 3 points or a onetime option to take a speed awareness course. The statistics have proved that if you got speed trapped on a Monday it’s a good chance you quite possibly also got speed trapped again in the same week. The statistics also prove that most drivers feel hard done by when they are nicked by a camera at 3:00am.

To avoid a 12 point disqualification would typically require the services of a barrister to fight your corner. This call costs money and huge embarrassment to the driver begging for his/her ability to keep their lic.
Rick (Cambridge)

Agree (126) | Disagree (11)

My main issue is the positioning of the mobile speed camera vans. They are not positioned in places where lives have been lost as a result speeding cars, they position them just inside 30mph zones, often in quite rural locations. I have received points a few times in such places, where in my opinion I was not driving at a dangerous speed, there where no pedestrians and the road was clear of all hazards and obstacles. The cameras were positioned there clearly to catch and fine as many, otherwise perfectly safe drivers, as possible. This behaviour by the law enforcement agencies is quite immoral.
Steve from Pembs

Agree (161) | Disagree (15)

I have never driven a car and have no desire to do so. I prefer to cycle or walk to work, or take a bus. So I have plans A, B and C for travel. Motorists only ever have a plan A. Without the car their lives fall apart, hence the claim of exceptional hardship.

The trouble is, there's nothing exceptional about it. All motorists claim to be special cases. Why? Because car use is deeply embedded in the British psyche. In comparable European countries people own cars but also walk, cycle and use public transport. Here you say goodbye to all that as soon as you get a licence.

Driving a car matters disproportionately to the average Brit. CCTV cameras invading civil liberties - never mind. The press in the hands of foreign barons - who cares? But just you try and get between a motorist and his/ her car . . .
Jack Warren, Middlesbrough

Agree (23) | Disagree (137)

Doug in Stockton-on-Tees (the town where I grew up). This is a very emotionally charged contribution. There is so much to refute that to offer an alternative view would take up considerable space but let me try to be succinct on a couple of issues. In 34 years in the police, some in Middlesbrough, I have never known anyone to be taken to court for doing 38 in a 30 limit. My understanding is that, at this level of offending, you would have been verbally warned at the time about your driving or offered a place on the driver rectification scheme. If these options are refused, the police must submit the case for a judicial hearing. Is this the case?

You did not get 9 points because you "stood up the system" but for some other reason that is not clear in your comments. There must be some rationale behind the severity of your points level of which we are not aware. I am cognizant that sometimes a conviction for a criminal offence can have appalling repercussions but the judiciary cannot take such matters into a state of imbalance when sentencing. The penalty points you mentioned should not have the disproportionate affect on your domestic life that you claim although I realise that such an outcome will require adjustments to be made.

I hesitate to say that one only finishes up in court if an offence has apparently been committed. The only person who knows this with any assurity is you, therefore the appropriate response is in your hands.
Roy Buchanan, Epsom

Agree (13) | Disagree (30)

I have 12 points on my license, but I am neither a bad driver nor a repeat offender. The last 9 were received in one hit for doing 38mph in a 30 zone. Why did I receive 9 points? Purely because I stood up to the system and pleaded not guilty as I had not received the NIPs in the post. You may doubt this statement, all I know is that my evidence of postal turmoil locally was ignored, the mis-use of the mobile speed camera equipment by the police was ignored by the magistrates and I have lost all faith in the British justice system. I am self employed and just starting to get a little work again after 15 months of almost nothing. I owe a small fortune after bad debts. I am a decent man and a contributor to society through much voluntary work. Such a disproportionate penalty could mean I lose my home and my marriage if I slip up once in the next 3 years. In some cases this sort of scenario could actually result in suicide. Please think carefully before tarring everyone with the same brush.
Doug Harris Stockton-on-Tees

Agree (188) | Disagree (22)

A pilot is not allowed to fly if his/her skills are not to the required standards. A surgeon is strucked off if his/her standards are not sufficient. A murderer is sent to prison. None of them, "exceptional hardship" plays a role.

If losing the driving licence is going to cause them such a big problem, surely, that should be even more reason to drive within the law. What about the "exceptional hardship" to the innocent people that they may injure/kill and their families?

I need my driving licence for my job (ADI) and guess what? I drive within the law!
Marti Trujols, West Midlands

Agree (30) | Disagree (119)

A few years ago I was conducting a fleet training session with a driver who had recently returned from working abroad. Sadly, I can’t remember the country. He told me that the law in the country that he had been working in was that if a driver was caught breaking the speed limit or running a red light they were immediately banned for one month. Upon return of the licence there was a probationary period during which if the driver re-offended they were banned for three months, then six months and so on.

My trainee said that as a result very few people broke the speed limits or ran red lights.

With our culture of, in effect, letting offenders off a few times, there would be an outcry if this were to be implemented in the UK but I could see it working.

As for cases of hardship, the individual driver knows the consequences of their actions. If they or members of their families are suffering as a result of their lawlessness they are responsible. They can not blame the police or the courts for doing their jobs and upholding the law.
David Clark, North Yorkshire

Agree (21) | Disagree (38)

I did a bit of a stint as a magistrate and I have a few observations. The "test" of keeping your license by claiming hardship is suppposed to be quite the main the test revolves around proving that a needy dependent (e.g ill wife or child) rather that the driver will suffer. If the figures in the article are to be believed then the advice to magistrates must be in need of strengthening!

There may be other reasons for the figures. A common problem is people turning up with plastic photo licenses. I know its hard to believe but the standard court letters are written in very formal language and don't really make it clear that the paper license needs to arrive with you at the court! Or perhaps peoeple are playing that system. Our court system is still grounded in the dark ages and the IT systems are poor....then you add DVLA IT to the mix and see what happens....

Perhaps a bit of R&D would clarify the many causes that might be associated with these headlines.
Peter, Manchester

Agree (12) | Disagree (3)

Perhaps we should consider adopting the system in some european countries where everyone starts with 12 points and if you commit offences, points are deducted. If you reach zero it's an automatic ban - no exceptions. I understand that offence free driving is rewarded with extra points up to a limit. Reverse psychology. Points means prizes. A zero tolerance approach to repeat offenders should be considered along with tougher enforcement for motorists who deliberately choose to drive dangerously. Hold on - isn't that a key theme in the coalition govt's Strategic Framework?
Robert Smith, Dorset

Agree (6) | Disagree (37)

The points system was designed to allow drivers and riders to make a mistake or two and learn their lesson and to act as a deterrent to those who didn't think the rules of the road applied to them. However it's clear that many people simply see the points system as an allowance and we even have insurance companies that specialise in insuring those with bans, high numbers of points and other driving convictions. So many people have points now that 3 or 6 points are seen as irrelevant. Is it time to rethink the whole thing rather than just putting a plaster over it?
Dave, Leeds

Agree (28) | Disagree (19)