Thousands of UK motorists can drive with over 12 points

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Driving licenceImage copyright PA
Image caption Usually 12 points means a ban, but magistrates can choose not to enforce it in exceptional cases.

More than 10,000 motorists are allowed on the roads despite having 12 or more penalty points on their licence.

Analysis by BBC News shows motorists in the north of England had the most licences with a dozen or more points.

Road safety charities said allowing people with lots of points to stay on the road made a mockery of the system.

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency said the figure included people who had served a ban and had successfully reapplied for their licence.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption There are 284 men aged 29 with at least 12 points on their licences

The data, covering Great Britain as of the end of June 2017, also showed:

  • The category with the greatest rate of offending was men aged between 25 and 34.
  • Men were more likely to have clocked up penalty points. About 33 out of every 100,000 male drivers have 12 or more points, compared with under 8 per 100,000 female drivers.
  • The most points on a valid licence belong to a 44-year-old woman in the OX12 postcode area. The licence has 51 penalty points.
  • Almost 100 motorists were still allowed to drive despite having at least 24 points on their licences, twice the number that results in a ban if accrued within three years.

Jason Wakeford, the director of campaigns for Brake, the road safety charity, said: “Allowing dangerous drivers to stay on the road makes a total mockery of the points system.

“These are irresponsible individuals who have shown disregard for the law and the lives of other road users, time after time. People who clock up over 12 points should face an automatic ban – there needs to be a clear message that dangerous driving will not be tolerated.”

‘Six months is not enough’

Image copyright Ann Hannon
Image caption Matt Hannon died racing his friend

Ann Hannon’s son Matt was 22 when he died. He had been racing his best friend Steve Hayhurst, who was 23 at the time and admitted causing death by dangerous driving. Matt’s family pleaded with the judge to spare him a prison sentence.

Mrs Hannon, of Blackburn, said driving bans needed to be longer in order to make people think about the consequences of bad driving.

“Six months is not enough,” she said. “People use their cars for getting to work and going out. They can get by for six months. A year would make more of a difference.

“Speeding is still a big problem, but there’s more focus on mobile phones as well. You see people on their phones at the wheel.”

Mrs Hannon, of Blackburn, has worked with the Wasted Lives campaign in Lancashire to educate young drivers about risks on the road.

The data includes drivers who have served a driving ban and successfully re-applied for their licence. It does not include people who were currently banned as of the end of June.

The area with the highest proportion of drivers with a dozen or more points was Blackburn with Darwen. Sixty-seven drivers there had a dozen or more points in June 2017, which is equivalent to almost 60 out of of every 100,000 motorists.

  • 51 points on one Oxfordshire woman’s licence

  • 42 points on a 52-year-old man’s licence in Basildon

  • 39 on 4 licences in Wigan, South Tyneside, Brentwood and Dagenham

Getty Images

Penalty points and the law

Drivers are usually banned if they get 12 penalty points within three years.

Bans are six months for 12 or more penalty points accrued within three years. Further bans of 12 months for a second offence and two years for a third offence are also imposed. The points stay on licences, including after bans have been served, for up to four years from the offence.

Most points remain valid for three years from conviction, but stay on licences for four years, which is why so many drivers have a high number of points but are allowed to be on the roads.

The number of points put on a licence varies depending on the offence.

Exceeding the speed limit can lead to three to six points as can using a mobile phone at the wheel.

Someone who drives above the legal alcohol limit would get 10 points.

Up to 11 points can be put on a licence for drug driving and these stay on licences for up to 11 years.


The Ministry of Justice said decisions on sentencing were a matter for the courts, taking into account the “full facts” of the case.

A spokeswoman said: “Drivers who kill ruin lives and must face the full force of the law. While we can never compensate for the loss of a loved one, we are clear that the punishment must fit the crime.

“Last year, the government issued a consultation that will see the maximum sentence in this area increase from 14 years to life. We are now considering the consultation responses. Any announcement will be made in due course.”

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