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Not banning repeat driving offenders 'is putting lives at risk'

By Chris McCullough

Drivers still on the road despite reaching 12 penalty points - which should trigger disqualification - are making a mockery of the law, a charity has warned.

More than 120 motorists with 12 points or more on their licences are still driving. The worst offender has 20 points.

Motorists should lose their licence when they reach 12 points but "special circumstances" have allowed 124 with more than that to continue to drive, the BBC's Nolan Show found.

Zariaat Masood from the road safety charity Brake said: "The 124 drivers in Northern Ireland with 12 points or more on their licence should be taken off the road, before they take someone else off the road.

"It is appalling that more than 100 drivers in Northern Ireland are able to get behind the wheel, despite showing a blatant disregard for the safety of other road users.

"This makes a mockery of our penalty points system that exists to protect the public from selfish and dangerous repeat offenders. Brake is calling on the government to ensure all drivers with more than 12 points get an automatic ban."

The British Insurance Brokers' Association (BIBA) warned that drivers allowed on the road after reaching 12 points could be putting up insurance premiums for others.

Graeme Trudgill, its executive director, said: "BIBA cannot comment on the decisions of judges to be lenient in respect of motor convictions, however we are aware that statistically, those with convictions are more likely to have a claim which means motorists continuing to drive with many points on their licence may impact road safety and the number of accidents, which in turn is likely to increase motor insurance premiums generally.

"Encouraging those who have committed driving offences to undertake road safety training or speed awareness courses helps encourage better, safer driving, which will be of benefit to all in the long term."

Former PSNI assistant chief constable Alan McQuillan said judges do take into account special circumstances before taking away anyone's licence.

"There has to be some discretion. I am not excusing it", he told the Nolan Show.

"You can't lose your licence before appearing in court. So even if you get a ticket to take you up to 12, you won't be disqualified until you appear in court.

"There could be many, many, many special circumstances for a judge not to take away a licence."

He added: "The judiciary needs that discretion, otherwise injustices will happen."

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