Britain has 92,000 drivers running the risk of losing their licence, having already clocked up between nine and 11 points, it has been revealed.
Any motorists who accrue more than 12 points on their licence at a given time face a ban – and anyone over nine points is one simple three point speeding offence away from this.
Within the 92,000, there are 4,000 drivers right on the edge of the threshold with 11 points at the moment.
Road safety group IAM RoadSmart said the figures, released to them by the DVLA, are ‘alarming’ and any error in judgement could land these motorists in hot water.
On the brink of a ban: Many motorists in the UK are one offence away from losing their licence for 6 months. Some 80,484 have 9 points on their licence, 7,804 have 10 points and another 4,313 with 11 points
Specifically, at present there are 80,484 motorists in the UK with nine points on their licence, 7,804 with 10 points and 4,313 with 11 points, official records provided to the motoring charity group confirmed.
But there are nearly 8,800 motorists still driving with 12 points or more on their licence, who have been given special dispensation to avoid a ban having used the ‘exceptional hardship’ loophole to dodge one – a loophole that has since been tightened by rule makers.
Motorists who are currently on the brink of tallying up 12 points won’t be able to exploit the claim they will suffer exceptional hardship, without providing sufficient evidence of this.
IAM RoadSmart says everyday bad driving habits, ignorance or judgement errors could result in a minimum six-month ban for those accruing more than 12 black marks on their licence.
DVLA released the 10 most common offences that result in points for licence holders, with speeding on public roads and motorways topping the list, followed by driving without insurance, using a phone at the wheel and running red lights.
Many drivers may also be unaware that a lack of basic vehicle maintenance could also land you with points – such as defective tyres, blown headlight or brake light bulbs, cracked light covers, smeary windscreen wipers or worn suspension components.
A road safety charity said everyday bad driving habits, ignorance or judgement errors could result in a minimum six-month ban for those accruing more than 12 black marks on their record
Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart Director of Policy & Research, said: ‘The number of motorists still driving on UK roads with more than 12 points, or just under the driving ban threshold, is alarming.
Top 10 most common driving offences which result in points
1. SP30 – Exceeding statutory speed limit on a public road – 3 to 6 points
2. SP50 – Exceeding speed limit on a motorway – 3 to 6 points
3. IN10 – Using a vehicle uninsured against third party risks – 6 to 8 points
4. CU80 – Breach of requirements as to control of the vehicle, such as using a mobile phone – 3 to 6 points
5. TS10 – Failing to comply with traffic light signals – 3 points
6. MS90 – Failure to give information as to identity of driver – 6 points
7. LC20 – Driving otherwise than in accordance with a licence – 3 to 6 points
8. CU30 – Using a vehicle with defective tyre(s) – 3 points
9. CD30 – Driving without due care and attention or without reasonable consideration for other road users – 3 to 9 points
10. CU50 Causing or likely to cause danger by reason of load or passengers – 3 points
Source: DVLA data provided to IAM RoadSmart December 2020
‘It is also an opportune occasion to educate motorists on some motoring laws that they might be unaware can result in licence points, so that motorists can change their driving habits and carry out regular basic checks of their vehicle to help make the roads safer for all users.’
The road safety charity also urged new drivers to take extra care as they can amass points very quickly in their first two years of driving – and have a ower threshold to be banned.
Anyone of any age passing their first driving test is ‘on probation’ for two years.
A total of six or more penalty points during that time will mean they have to go back to learner status, apply for a new provisional licence and take the test again, under rules implemented in June 1997.
As well as edging motorists closer to a driving ban, the impact of having points added to a licence also results in pricier premiums.
A recent report by Compare the Market found that accruing three penalty points has little impact on car insurance premiums, but six or more results in far costlier cover.
Car insurance premiums remain largely flat if a driver goes from zero to three points on their licence, with the average annual cost increasing from £700 to £705, according to data held by the comparison site.
However, if you jump from three to six points, the average premium shoots up by more than £200 to reach £937, suggesting this is the big tipping point and insurers see two misdemeanors as way more riskier than insuring someone with one.
The cost of insurance nudges progressively higher the more points are added to your licence, reaching an average premium of £1,009 for those with 12 points.
The Sentencing Council acted last year to close a loophole that has allowed thousands of motorists to remain on the road by claiming disqualification will result in ‘exceptional hardship’
Rule change allows courts to target 12-point drivers
Drivers who accumulate 12 or more points on their licence have been at greater risk of being handed bans since courts agreed last year to come down harder on motorists who tot-up penalties.
Section 35 of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 states drivers who incur 12 or more penalty points on a driving licence must be disqualified for at least six months unless ‘the court is satisfied, having regard to all the circumstances, that there are grounds for mitigating the normal consequences of the conviction and thinks fit to order him to be disqualified for a shorter period or not to order him to be disqualified’.
While there has been vague guidance for magistrates on how an exceptional hardship rule could be applied, there have been calls for a fuller explanation for how courts should deal with the issue.
As a result, a lengthy consultation with legal experts representing the Ministry of Justice has outlined a list of specific rules that should be applied to drivers with 12 or more points.
Courts can now determine that a loss of employment caused by a disqualification from driving is not sufficient to demonstrate exceptional hardship
The Sentencing Council ruled that loss of employment caused by a disqualification from driving is no longer sufficient alone to demonstrate exceptional hardship.
Offenders will now be required to prove that the loss of their licence is more than merely an inconvenience.
‘Almost every disqualification entails hardship for the person disqualified and their immediate family. This is part of the deterrent objective of the provisions combined with the preventative effect of the order not to drive,’ updated guidelines state.
It adds: ‘If a motorist continues to offend after becoming aware of the risk to their licence of further penalty points, the court can take this circumstance into account.
‘Courts should be cautious before accepting assertions of exceptional hardship without evidence that alternatives (including alternative means of transport) for avoiding exceptional hardship are not viable.’
It added that loss of employment will be ‘an inevitable consequence of a driving ban for many people’.
‘Evidence that loss of employment would follow from disqualification is not in itself sufficient to demonstrate exceptional hardship; whether or not it does will depend on the circumstances of the offender and the consequences of that loss of employment on the offender and/or others,’ new rules state.
The revised guidance took effect from 1 October 2020.
Incurring 12 or more penalty points within a three-year period means a minimum period of disqualification must be imposed under existing rules.
The minimum period is: six months if no previous disqualification is to be taken into account; one year if one previous disqualification is to be taken into account; two years if more than one previous disqualification is to be taken into account.
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