England

Motorist with 62 penalty points legally allowed to drive

A speeding driver who clocked up 62 points on his licence is still allowed to drive, the BBC has learned.

The West Yorkshire man was among 10,000 motorists legally driving on British roads last month, despite having excessive points.

Usually 12 points means a ban, but magistrates can choose not to enforce it in "exceptional cases".

Brian Cornick, whose stepdaughter died in a motorbike accident, said there should be "no excuses".

Image copyright PA
Image caption Usually 12 points means a ban, but magistrates can choose not to enforce it in exceptional cases.

He added: "The magistrates are being weak. Twelve points should be the ceiling."

Sheena Jowett, deputy chairman of the Magistrates' Association, the independent charity representing magistrates in England and Wales, said: "Magistrates take decisions under clear guidelines, impartially, and on the merits of each individual case.

"Automatic disqualification can be avoided or reduced in cases of 'exceptional hardship'. The process is a robust one and the concept of hardship must be proved to an exceptional level."

Losing a job on its own would rarely qualify, but proving it would mean being unable to pay a mortgage or feed your family, would.


The worst offending areas:

  • Most people had between 12 and 18 points, but 203 people accumulated more
  • Greater London topped the table at 1,385 people over the 12 points, while the Shetland Islands had one person
  • West Yorkshire was among the top 10 counties for numbers of offenders, as was Essex, where one driver had 42 points, and another had 36
  • Oxfordshire, Surrey and Norfolk were average in terms of the number of offending drivers but had motorists clocking up 51 points, 30 and 39 respectively

The statistics were revealed under the Freedom of Information Act to BBC South East.

David Nichols, of road safety charity Brake, said the figures were "absolutely shocking".

He added: "The penalty points system is supposed to be in place to protect the public from dangerous repeat offenders and it's appalling that these risky repeat offenders are allowed to keep driving."

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Media captionJeanette Miller, a motor offence lawyer, tells Radio 4's Today that 12 penalty points don't always result in a ban

Common ways people amass so many points:

  • Driving on a familiar road and not realising the cameras are working. Driving a fraction over the limit, twice a day to work and back, could incur 30 points in five days, before the first penalty charge notice has been delivered
  • Not informing the DVLA of a change of address. "Ignoring" penalty point notices also incurs extra points

Nick Freeman, a specialist traffic defence lawyer known as Mr Loophole, said he had come across cases similar to the first example.

Mr Freeman, who has represented clients including Jeremy Clarkson and Wayne Rooney, managed to get all the court summons to one date, for one case, "so the court hears just one argument of exceptional hardship".

Image copyright PA

People can use the mitigation once every three years, but cannot reuse the reason for the hardship.

Mr Freeman said the legislation allowing hardship mitigation was to give people who committed trivial offences another chance.

"But it facilitates the current situation. If Parliament doesn't want that situation to continue, the legislation needs changing," he added.

The DVLA noted there could be a delay between issuing penalties and a court sentence, but said the West Yorkshire motorway speeder had been dealt with and was still eligible to drive.

His points were mostly incurred from repeatedly speeding on a motorway, the BBC understands.


Driving with excess points

Nigel, in Cambridgeshire, said: "I am driving on 15 points.

"I am 67 with elderly parents and five children. I am one big care home and I rush around trying to do everything that needs to be done. Last time I got points, I was driving at 98 mph on am empty bypass - I was delivering oxygen services to my 91-year-old father.

"I had a very understanding magistrate who let me keep my licence," he told the BBC.

"There are so many cameras that if you have to drive 50,000+ miles a year you are almost bound to get more than 12 points in three years. We are not dangerous drivers in fact we are probably the safest in the country as we drive so many miles.

"All my points were on motorways or dual carriageways."

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