TODAY news broke that about 900 drivers in the south are still legally on the road despite having racked up enough penalty points for a ban. Now a legal expert from Portsmouth explains why this is possible.
Tim Williamson, a leading criminal and regulatory lawyer for Portsmouth law firm Blake Morgan.
Speaking to The News this morning, he said: ‘It is perfectly true that some motorists in the UK have accumulated a high number of penalty points yet they are still able to drive.
‘However, we have to be clear about what happens when a person is at risk of a “totting up” disqualification and how they have been able to continue driving.
‘We also have to bear in mind the ways in which people might have accumulated so many penalty points. If, for example, they drive the same route every day for a week and are not aware the cameras are operational, then a motorist could accumulate 30 points in a single week. I have seen this plenty of times. Motorists are understandably concerned about what they need to do next.
‘The law is clear that any motorist who accumulates 12 points or more within three years is automatically at risk of at least a six-month driving ban. This is very clear; black and white.
‘There must be an opportunity for courts to scrutinise each case on its merits and consider how this automatic punishment would actually affect people and their families – and this opportunity does exist within the legal framework.
‘If the magistrates accept that on a balance of probabilities having heard evidence on oath from a motorist that they, or other people, would suffer ‘exceptional hardship’ then they have discretion to disqualify for fewer than six months or not to disqualify the motorist at all. Hence we see the situation described above.
‘So any motorist with 12 or more penalty points will have been to court and will have been required to explain in detail the implications of a driving ban – providing documentary evidence where possible.
‘In my experience magistrates scrutinise such cases very carefully indeed.
‘The ability of a magistrates court to hear evidence and apply their own judgement on a case by case basis is crucial and one which the courts take very seriously.
‘When facing a “totting up” disqualification motorists should work hard to provide clear evidence about their need for a driving licence, not just for their own benefit but for the benefit of others. The courts can and do listen.’