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In September the Sunday Times ran a front page story which commented on the fact that a number of drivers were able to keep their licence even after they had obtained 12 or more penalty point endorsements within a three year period. This was due to a series of errors by the DVLA which failed to supply the relevant Magistrates' Court with an up to date printout of a person’s driving licence history, detailing accurately the number of penalty points they had accumulated at the date of sentence. The article made reference to a Mr Collins who was eventually banned in August 2010 following 10 convictions of failing to provide information to help identify the driver of three vehicles used in speeding offences. At the time of his sentence, he had accumulated 75 penalty points on his licence and he was able to continue driving.

The law states that an individual must be disqualified for a minimum of six months if they have incurred 12 penalty points or more within a three year period (Section 35 Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988). The period of disqualification may be increased if an individual has been disqualified within the preceding three years.

An individual can reduce or avoid a period of disqualification for a totting-up disqualification if they are able to persuade the Court that there are exceptional hardship reasons for them not to be disqualified. The Court has to be persuaded that the individual circumstances are “out of the ordinary” and each case is judged on an individual basis.

If a person finds themself in such a situation it is extremely useful if they attend Court to give evidence themself to the Court outlining their position. The Court will usually have little sympathy if an individual’s argument is that without their licence they will lose their job and in turn this will affect their ability to meet their mortgage repayments or other domestic expenses. However, if the loss of a licence will have a detrimental affect on an innocent third party, for example, if it will impact on, or jeopardise the future employment prospects of others, this will be a much more persuasive argument to put forward.

If a period of disqualification will result in a person’s employment contract being terminated, evidence should be provided to confirm the position.

Newly qualified drivers will automatically have their licence revoked if they accumulate 6 penalty points within the first 2 years of holding a licence. Thereafter, they will only be able to drive after applying for a Provisional Licence pending the passing of a further test.

If you wish to obtain legal advice in relation to this issue, please do not hesitate to contact the Road Traffic Team at Irwin Mitchell.

David Goldstein - Solicitor, Manchester

Yorkshire & North East: Paul Haycock