A road safety charity has called for automatic bans for drivers who rack up 12 or more penalty points after it was revealed one Northern Ireland motorist amassed an astonishing 21 points without losing their licence.
The BBC Nolan Show reported a total of 43 people in Northern Ireland still have their driving licence despite having 12 or more penalty points.
If you build up 12 or more penalty points within a period of three years you will be liable to be disqualified under the ‘totting-up’ system.
New drivers will automatically have their licence revoked if they build up six or more penalty points within two years of passing their first driving test.
However, courts have the discretion not to ban a driver if it would cause “exceptional hardship”.
Figures published in 2019 show that licences held by more than 11,000 drivers have 12 or more points on them on mainland UK.
Road safety charity BRAKE told the Belfast Telegraph it is calling for all drivers to receive an automatic ban if they have 12 penalty points on their licence in a bid to deter speeding and dangerous driving.
Samuel Nahk, senior public affairs officer said: “It is appalling that drivers are still able to get behind the wheel despite having accumulated 12 points or more on their licence.
“Too often, drivers who have been caught repeatedly breaking the law are let off by using the ‘exceptional hardship’ loophole.
“These dangerous repeat offenders have been granted ample opportunity to change their driving behaviour, yet continue to put lives at risk through their complete disregard for the law.
“If drivers who rack up 12 points aren’t banned, it makes a mockery of the system. This loophole needs closing urgently.
“Driving is a privilege, not a right and if that privilege is not exercised responsibly, it should be revocable, no matter how inconvenient.”
Sinn Fein’s transport spokesman Sean Lynch MLA said road safety had to be a priority.
“This will be distressing news to those injured or bereaved by dangerous driving,” he said.
“I will be asking the minister for infrastructure for clarity on this issue and to outline the conditions which allows drivers with 12 penalty points or more to keep driving.
“Road safety needs to be the priority consideration with regards to the enforcement of the penalty point system.”
A Department for Infrastructure spokesperson said the Driver & Vehicle Agency (DVA) recorded the penalty points against the driver record, as advised by the courts.
“The DVA does not have the power to disqualify a person from driving – a disqualification can only be ordered by the court.”
A spokesman for the Office of the Lord Chief Justice said that in sentencing offenders the court works within the legal framework set down in Road Traffic Offenders (Northern Ireland) Order 1996.
“If a person is convicted of an offence which results in them exceeding 12 points on their licence, the court must order the driver to be disqualified from driving unless there are mitigating circumstances,” the spokesman said.
“The court may decide to disqualify the person for a shorter period or not disqualify them at all.
“In making its decision, the court will consider a range of factors which will depend on the specific circumstance of the case, the spokesman added.
Number of drivers in Northern Ireland with 12 or more penalty points who still have their licence