Hundreds of motorists are spared bans despite having 12 points

HUNDREDS of drivers in Suffolk and Essex are still legally on the roads despite having 12 or more penalty points on their licence, shocking figures have revealed.

According to statistics from the DVLA, a total of 327 motorists are allowed to drive even though 12 points usually means a temporary driving ban unless it can be proved it would cause exceptional hardship.

The DVLA said courts are able to use their discretion to decide whether or not to disqualify a driver.

A Freedom of Information request to the DVLA showed there were 120 licence holders in Suffolk and 207 in Essex with 12 penalty points or more, as of September 1 this year, but who were still entitled to drive.

Franki Hackett, campaigns and media officer for Brake, said: “Clearly when the points system was designed, it wasn’t intended that so many 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.

“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”

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A DVLA spokeswoman said it was a record-keeper of the endorsements and disqualifications handed out by courts but has “no responsibility or influence on court imposed sentences”.

She added: “In a small percentage of cases, the Agency understands that a court can exercise its discretion and not disqualify a 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.” Chris Hunt-Cooke, chairman of The Magistrates’ Association, said: “When you get up to 12 points the normal rule is you should be disqualified from driving for a minimum of six months.

“However if you can show it would cause exceptional hardship you can be disqualified for a lesser period of time or not at all. “Exceptional hardship is exceptional by its very nature but more attention would be paid if it was going to cause hardship to other people rather than yourself.”

Drivers are not entitled to make the same argument for exceptional hardship within a three-year period.

Mr Hunt-Cooke added: “Occasionally things do go wrong in the court system because of the DVLA and court service communication.

“We are aware that the transfer of information between the organisations is not that good and both divisions are working on improving that system.”