Drivers with up to 30 penalty points escape bans in St Albans

PUBLISHED: 07:00 09 November 2018 | UPDATED: 09:42 09 November 2018

The North Orbital Road in St Albans.  Picture: Google Street View

The North Orbital Road in St Albans. Picture: Google Street View

Archant

Dozens of ‘unsafe’ drivers are still on the roads in St Albans, despite racking up enough points for a ban.

Analysis of DVLA data reveals that 65 drivers in the St Albans area have managed to dodge a ban after being given 12 or more penalty points on their licence - the usual threshold for losing a licence.

Road safety charity Brake has slammed the current system, which it says is allowing “repeat offenders” to exploit loopholes in the law.

It has accused the Government and courts of being “complicit” in putting the public at risk.

Currently, if a driver can convince a magistrate that they, or an innocent party such as a family member, will face ‘exceptional hardship’ as a result of losing their licence they may be permitted to keep it.

The latest figures, which record penalty points as of July, show there are almost 11,000 drivers across Great Britain who have retained their licences despite passing the points limit, some with more than 40 or 50 points.

In St Albans the highest number of points received by one driver who is still allowed to drive is 30.

Around 23 in every 100,000 local drivers have at least 12 points on their licence, in line with the national average.

The data is recorded by postcode district, so some drivers could live just across the border in neighbouring local authority areas.

The country’s worst serial offender is a 44-year-old man from Wolverhampton or the wider south Staffordshire area, with 54 points.

Joshua Harris, director of campaigns at Brake, said it is “hugely concerning” that so many offenders are being allowed to keep driving.

He continued: “By ignoring the exploitation of the ‘exceptional hardship’ loophole that allows unsafe drivers to remain on our roads, the Government and courts are complicit in increasing the risk to the public.

“This dangerous loophole must be dealt with as a matter of urgency so that drivers who reach 12 points are automatically disqualified, protecting the general public from harm.

“Driving is a privilege, not a right and if that privilege is not exercised responsibly, it must be taken away.”

The charity is calling for the loophole to be closed as part of its Roads to Justice campaign, which says an urgent review should be carried out on the “fundamentally flawed road traffic framework”.

Drivers can pick up penalty points - also known as endorsements - for a range of offences.

Minor offences, such as speeding or failing to stop at a pedestrian crossing, might attract three points and will stay on your licence for four years unless it is wiped clean.

Serious offences, such as drink or drug driving, could get you up to 11 points, and these will stay on your licence for 11 years.

If a driver gets 12 or more points in three years they will usually be banned from driving for six months.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: “The vast majority of drivers who get 12 penalty points are automatically disqualified.

“The courts have access to DVLA records which are taken into account, but sentencing is rightly a matter for independent judges based on the facts of each case.”

John Bache, Chair of the Magistrates Association, added: “The process for establishing exceptional hardship is robust – magistrates scrutinise every case very carefully and an individual would only avoid a ban if the magistrates sitting in the case are confident that exceptional hardship would genuinely be caused.”

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I should probably have taken the hint! Walking out into the garden recently an unprecedented flock of thirty or more crows raucously greeted me from the treetops at the bottom of my garden. Cawing and croaking these big, black birds clung clumsily to the top most branches and twigs, jostling and flapping to stay balanced in a constant flurry of feathers. There is always something ominous about crows – they are after all carrion crows, the vultures of the bird world – always watching for scraps and weakness that might mean their next meal.

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