On 7 January, the BBC reported that a driver in Liverpool was one of almost 7,300 motorists driving with in excess of 12 points on his licence. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-
In simple terms, the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 provides that where a driver accrues 12 or more live points in a three year period, the Magistrates should order the driver disqualified for not less than 6 months unless they are satisfied that “exceptional hardship” would be caused by the disqualification.
The BBC article highlights four seemingly exceptional cases of drivers with a high number of penalty point endorsements and mentions the option of arguing exceptional hardship but seems to suggest that there may be administrative reasons for some drivers having more than 12 points and still being able to drive.
Communication between those agencies able to endorse a physical driving licence and the electronic driver record held by the DVLA can overlap causing the potential for more than 12 points being endorsed without the driver being called before the Court for the “totting” procedure to be enforced. However, an article in yesterday’s Law Society Gazette discusses Ministry of Justice plans to make available online penalty point endorsements. Primarily it seems to be a project to allow insurers to check the veracity of information provided during the application process for car insurers.
It remains to be seen whether the scheme will come live at all and if it does whether those designing the system will realise its potential for the Court system. Certainly, the benefit to the Court would be instant access to the most up to date information but this is still reliant on the Police and Courts providing the data to the DVLA in the first place. While this remains the case, we may continue to see drivers with high numbers of points due to administrative error.
These articles should not be seen as a death knell for anyone who finds themselves at risk of disqualification. While the legislation exists to prevent persistent offending without repercussion, each case turns on its individual merits and at Hine, we are experienced in scrutinising the police case in the first instance and preparing and advancing arguments to seek to persuade the Court not to disqualify as a totter if no defences or special reasons are available. Contact any of our offices to speak to one of our specialist traffic team who will be happy to help.
Road Traffic Team, Hine Solicitors