Courts must do tougher with bans on drivers who collect 12 or more penalty points on their driver's license as thousands avoid disqualification for a loophole in "exceptional need"
- There are believed to be over 9,000 UK drivers driving despite having 12 or more points
- Most have avoided disqualification by claiming it would create "exceptional trouble" because they need a license to work
- So far there has been no strict definition of the exceptional hardship rule, which has been assessed on a case-by-case basis
- New stricter guidelines mean that criminals must now prove hardship to the courts
- It is said that harshness is a "dissuasive goal of the regulations" and is no longer a sufficient reason for a driver to keep his driver's license
Drivers who accumulate 12 or more points on their driver's license are at greater risk of being banned after the courts agreed to give harder to drivers who impose fines.
The Sentencing Council has released new guidelines for sentencing judges to prevent motorists from filing a disqualification for driving, which will lead to "exceptional trouble".
An investigation followed in April that found that over 9,000 UK licensees had a dozen or more points, but were allowed to go on with many using the hardship loophole.
Courts That Hit Drivers Hard With 12 Points Or More: The Sentences Council has set new guidelines for filling a loophole that has allowed thousands of motorists to stay on the road by claiming that disqualification would result in "exceptional trouble" will lead.
Under Section 35 of the Road Traffic Offenders Act of 1988, drivers who score 12 or more penalty points on a driver's license must be disqualified for at least six months, unless the court, taking all circumstances into account, is satisfied that there are grounds for a Mitigation gives the normal consequences of the conviction and deems it appropriate to disqualify him for a shorter period of time or not to disqualify him ”.
While there were vague indications for the judges on how an exceptional hardship rule could be applied, a more comprehensive explanation of how the courts had dealt with the problem was requested.
As a result, a lengthy consultation with legal experts representing the Ministry of Justice created a list of specific rules that should be applied to drivers with 12 points or more.
The Sentencing Council ruled that loss of employment due to disqualification from driving was no longer sufficient by itself to demonstrate extraordinary difficulty.
The perpetrators now have to prove that the loss of their license is more than just an inconvenience.
The courts can now determine that a loss of employment caused by a disqualification from driving is not sufficient to prove exceptional hardship
“Almost every disqualification creates difficulties for the disqualified person and their immediate family. This is part of the dissuasive aim of the provisions linked to the preventive effect of the not-to-drive order, ”the new guidelines state.
It adds: “If a motorist continues to be offended after realizing the risk to his license for further penalty points, the court can take that into account.
"Courts should be careful before accepting claims of exceptional hardship without demonstrating that alternatives (including alternative modes of transport) to avoid exceptional hardship are not feasible."
The loss of jobs is "an inevitable consequence of a driving ban for many people".
“Proof that the disqualification would result in a loss of employment is not in itself sufficient to prove extraordinary difficulties. Whether or not this is the case depends on the perpetrator's circumstances and the consequences of this loss of employment for the perpetrator and / or others, the new rules state.
The revised guidelines went into effect on October 1, 2020, meaning the courts have had tougher action since the beginning of this month against motorists who have committed multiple road traffic violations.
If 12 or more penalty points are incurred within a period of three years, a minimum duration for the disqualification must be set according to the applicable regulations.
The minimum duration is: six months if no previous disqualification is to be taken into account; one year if an earlier disqualification is to be taken into account; two years if more than one previous disqualification is to be considered.
An investigation by the Daily Mail earlier this year found a man had collected 66 penalty points but is still allowed to drive on the street
The stricter rules came after a freedom of information request from Auto Express to the Driver and Vehicle Registration Authority earlier this year found that a staggering 9,349 people are currently legal to drive despite having earned 12 points or more on their driver's license.
The latest figures show that around one million penalty points are awarded each year in England and Wales.
However, it appears that some collect far more than others.
A Daily Mail investigation also found that a male motorist had 66 points on his driver's license but was still not banned from the road.
The records showed that there were two other men with 60 points on a valid license.
The next worst offenders – all women – had kept their license, even though they had between 48 and 59 points each.
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