Gloucestershire roads safety campaigner questions penalty points system
A ROAD safety campaigner has called the system of awarding penalty points to errant drivers into question after figures revealed motorists who should have been banned were still behind the wheel.
Figures from the Driving and Vehicle Licensing Agency have shown that 56 drivers in Gloucestershire are still on the roads despite having 12 or more points on their licences - a threshold for immediate disqualification.
Some of those cases are now pending prosecutions but in others some of the defendants have argued that a ban would cause them exceptional hardship.
Garry Handley, from Gloucestershire Road Safety Partnership, questioned whether it was right to allow drivers behind the wheel despite going over the points limit.
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Mr Handley, who was awarded an OBE for his road safety work, said: "The whole system is there to illustrate to motorists that they are not coping very well.
"Penalty points gives them the opportunity to reflect on their poor driving standards.
"When the motorist doesn't take the opportunity to learn, they are regarded as too irresponsible to drive.
"Whether or not they should be driving is a matter for the courts.”
Magistrates have the discretion to allow drivers with 12 points - a procedure known as totting up - or more to keep their licences.
You can be disqualified from driving if you are convicted of a driving offence or if you get 12 or more penalty points within three years.
In cases other than drink driving or death by dangerous driving, a court has the discretion to allow a driver to keep their licence, if disqualification would cause exceptional hardship.
The court will take into account the individual's circumstances and the effect a driving disqualification would have.
If the defendant shows a driving ban would be an exceptionally harsh punishment, the court can exercise discretion and allow the defendant to keep their licence.
You can only use this argument once in three years.
Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive of road safety charity Brake, said drivers should be held to account for breaching the rules of the highways.
"Bad driving causes deaths and life-changing injuries that tear families apart and affect whole communities," she said.
"All drivers have a responsibility to ensure they aren't putting others at risk, and are helping to prevent these needless casualties."