I don’t normally go in for the Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells approach, but the answer to this Freedom of Information request very nearly had me heading into Daily Mail territory with my reaction.
The question asked was fairly simple: The inquirer wanted to know how many people are entitled to drive (ie, are not banned from driving) but have 12 or more points on their licence – that is, have more than the number of points which would normally result in an automatic ban. The answer is shown in this table.
Now, I’m not too bothered about the people with 12 points, or numbers a little over that. The law does allow for discretion when it comes to imposing a ban in cases where it would cause “exceptional hardship”. And it’s quite easy to reach 12 points without ever doing anything seriously wrong – a couple of fixed-penalty speeding tickets issued by cameras followed by a single instance of driving without insurance as a result of a genuine oversight in missing the renewal date by a day, for example, would do it. So there are probably quite a lot of people who reach 12 points and can reasonably count themselves unlucky to be banned, as well as a fair number who are deservedly allowed to carry on driving.
But when you get to the higher values – at the bottom end of that table – then the mind does start to boggle a bit. There are people driving around with more than 20 points on their licence. To get that, they’d have to have committed multiple minor offences, or at least one serious one, after reaching the point at which they would normally be banned.
And, right at the end, we discover that there is (or, at least, on the 7th July 2011 there was) someone in the UK in possession of a perfectly valid driving licence with 33 points on it. That’s nearly three times the number which normally results in a ban. It’s 11 speeding tickets, or three convictions for dangerous driving. So the question has to be asked: Just how bad a driver do you have to be to rack up that many points? How much have they paid in fines each time? How big a hardship would it be for them to be banned? And how much does their insurance cost? Whoever it is, they must be getting pretty close to the point at which it would be cheaper to take a taxi every time they want to go somewhere.