Is This The End For 12 Point Dodgers?

Mon 12th Oct 2020

New rules being introduced to Magistrates Courts could put a stop to ‘exceptional hardship’ being used as an excuse to allow repeat driving offenders to escape a ban.

Research published this year showed that there are currently more than 9,000 UK driving licence holders who are allowed to continue driving, despite having 12 or more points on their licence.

The exceptional hardship loophole has long been used as a get-out clause for those who accumulate 12 points or more, but the The Sentencing Council has now published new guidelines for the courts, which puts the burden of proof on the offender to prove their hardship.

According to the Road Traffic Offenders Act those who get 12 points or more penalty points should be disqualified for at least six months. But the area of mitigating circumstances of avoiding a ban have always been a grey area which the courts have often struggled to deal with consistently. But the new guidelines will look to make things clearer.

The Sentencing Council guidelines have been hammered out with a number of legal experts and say: “Almost every disqualification entails hardship for the person disqualified and their immediate family. This is part of the deterrent objective of the provisions combined with the preventative effect of the order not to drive.

“If a motorist continues to offend after becoming aware of the risk to their licence of further penalty points, the court can take this circumstance into account.
“Courts should be cautious before accepting assertions of exceptional hardship without evidence that alternatives (including alternative means of transport) for avoiding exceptional hardship are not viable.”

The new guidelines came into effect from the 1st October, meaning some drivers could be hit hard by a ban where they might have thought they would escape with a fine.