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GEM calls on courts to get tough on ‘totters’

GEM calls on courts to get tough on ‘totters’

Road safety and breakdown organisation GEM Motoring Assist is urging courts across the country to get tough on ‘totters’. A consistent and strong message is needed for drivers and riders who accumulate 12 penalty points on their licences, says GEM.

The call comes as figures from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) reveal there are 46 people who have been allowed to continue driving on the UK’s roads, even though they have collected more than 30 penalty points on their licence.

These drivers would have claimed in court that a disqualification would have caused them 'exceptional hardship' and been allowed to remain on the road.

A recent example has emerged of a driver who successfully invoked the ‘exceptional hardship’ excuse and managed to persuade magistrates that he should be allowed to continue driving.

The man drove at 58mph on the M27 between junctions 9-8 at Swanwick in January 2020. The limit in the temporary zone is 50mph.

He pleaded guilty when he appeared at Basingstoke Magistrates Court.  There was no totting disqualification, the court decided, because Harris would lose his job with an impact on his family as he is a main breadwinner.

DVLA figures show there are 8,237 drivers in England on or over the 12-point threshold, with men (6,837) far outnumbering women (1,400). In Wales, the overall figure is 512 – with 413 male and 99 female motorists – while Scotland has a lower total figure of 225, split into 192 men and 33 women.

The Sentencing Council ruled last year that loss of employment caused by a disqualification from driving is no longer sufficient alone to demonstrate exceptional hardship.

Incurring 12 or more penalty points within a three-year period means a minimum period of six months’ disqualification must be imposed.

GEM chief executive Neil Worth commented: “A driving ban should be inevitable for anyone who has managed to accumulate 12 penalty points on their licence. It takes a particularly careless, thoughtless or reckless person to reach this level, and their disregard for the law means they each represent a big risk for the rest of us who share the roads with them.

“The time for drivers to consider the consequences of a ban should come long before they find themselves with the prospect of 12 points. While a ban will cause considerable levels of hardship, courts need to give more thought to other road users – particularly the most vulnerable – who face the greatest danger when such high-risk drivers are allowed to keep their licences.”

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