Is It Time To Close Legal Loophole?

Tue 21st Dec 2021

A major cycling charity has called for a change to the law to put an end to ‘exceptional hardship’ being used as a reason to allow consistent motoring offenders to retain their driving licence.

Cycling UK has put together a report that between 7,000 and 8,000 motorists a year are avoiding disqualification, despite having 12 points of more on their licence, with expensive lawyers exploiting a legal loophole claiming that the driver will face ‘exceptional hardship’ if they were to lose their licence.

The report shows that 142,275 people were banned from driving between 2017 and 2021 after collecting enough points to lose their licence. However 35,569 were allowed to keep their licence in court due to the loophole, which means one in five are escaping bans.

Cycling UK point out that the consequences of allowing these dangerous drivers to remain on the roads can often be fatal, with Lee Martin and Louis McGovern examples of two men killed by drivers who had claimed ‘exceptional hardship’ to escape a ban.

“We’ve got courts treating inconvenience as exceptional hardship and a legal loophole that costs lives is making a mockery of the supposedly automatic totting up ban.

“We’ve no assessment of risks when magistrates make these decisions to allow someone to carry on driving, but they are accepting bland assertions that losing a licence will cause them difficulties.

“It’s families such as Louis McGovern’s and Lee Martin’s who really suffer exceptional hardship when the courts put the retention of someone’s licence to drive above road safety, allowing irresponsible people to carry on driving until they cause further harm or death on the roads.”

Local magistrates have been given additional powers to tighten the loophole by the Sentencing Council with drivers now having to prove that the ban would be more than an inconvenience and that losing a job is an ‘inevitable consequence of a driving ban’. That new guidance was introduced in October 2020.