21 points and still driving

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MORE than 130 Suffolk drivers are still on the road – despite picking up 12 or more points on their licence.

Statistics released by the DVLA through a Freedom of Information request show that one driver in the IP postcode area has even clocked up 21 points.

Drivers in Britain are liable to be banned from the road for six months for ‘totting up’ 12 or more points in a three-year period and should only be let off if the ban would cause ‘exceptional hardship’ to the driver, their family or employees.

But statistics of drivers in the IP postcodes show a large number are not being banned.

Graham Higgins, chairman of Suffolk Magistrates’ Association, said the high number could be blamed on miscommunication between the DVLA and the courts.

He said: “As drivers cannot use the exceptional hardship argument more than once in three years – and most will put forward all the arguments they can muster when they first appear – it seems likely that most, if not all of those recorded with a very high number of points, have failed to be disqualified as a consequence of some breakdown in communication in the system.”

The figures show that in the Stowmarket postcode area, four drivers have 12 points on their licence and that the Wattisfield and Ixworth postcode areas both have five drivers on 12 points.

The Wattisham area has one driver on 18 points and around Mildenhall one driver has 21 points on their licence.

Mr Higgins said: “Investigation nationally showed that for at least some of the drivers, failures to properly record points on their driver record led to an inaccurate record being available online to the court from DVLA, as many drivers mislay, fail or are unable to produce the paper part of their driving licence in court and the court relies on that DVLA record.

“If the DVLA information is inaccurate it may be that the driver escapes being dealt with as a ‘totter’.

“The Magistrates’ Association was naturally concerned about the situation and wrote to the responsible minister, who asked the various bodies to work to improve their communications.

“There is no indication that magistrates are being unduly lenient when considering exceptional hardship arguments.”

Mr Higgins said in its own national investigation, the Magistrates’ Association had found that of the 32,633 drivers who reached 12 points last year, 3,333 were not disqualified, a rate of 10.2 percent.