Brake comments on Sentencing Council plans to clarify ‘exceptional hardship’ rules for driving bans

News from Brake
Wednesday 22 January 2020
The Sentencing Council has set out proposals to provide clearer guidance to courts for sentencing drivers who claim ‘exceptional hardship’ when facing a ban. Road safety charity Brake, who have long been calling for the removal of the exceptional hardship claim, have welcomed the news stating their hope that it will put a stop to derisory claims of exceptional hardship and help ensure that repeat offenders are disqualified from driving.
Data obtained from the DVLA by Brake shows that, as of December 2019, more than 10,000 drivers in Great Britain were permitted to drive despite having 12 or more penalty points on their licence - at present, drivers who receive 12 or more points on their licence within a three-year period face at least a six month driving ban, however they can avoid disqualification if they successfully claim that not being able to drive would cause ‘exceptional hardship’.
Research conducted by the charity into drivers views of the ‘exceptional hardship’ loophole found broad support for a change in the law, with three quarters of those surveyed (75%) stating they do not think that it is right that some drivers who accrue 12 points should be let off a driving ban.
The proposed new guidance from the Sentencing Council would set out clearly what courts should consider when considering arguments of exceptional hardship. These proposals are open for consultation for 12 weeks from 22 January to 15 April 2020.
Commenting, Joshua Harris, director of campaigns for Brake said: “Far too often drivers who have been caught repeatedly breaking the law are let off a deserved ban by using the excuse of ‘exceptional hardship’, often for pitifully inadequate reasons. These are dangerous repeat offenders who 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 undermines, and makes a mockery of, the entire system.
“The proposals from the Sentencing Council are a positive step towards closing the ‘exceptional hardship’ loophole and our research shows that the vast majority of drivers support such a move. Driving is a privilege, not a right; and if that privilege is not exercised responsibly, it should be taken away, no matter how inconvenient.”
Notes to editors:
  • Sentencing Council proposals and consultation can be found here.
  • Number of drivers with 12 or more points on their licence was obtained from DVLA driving licence data December 2019, Table DRL0131.
  • Survey of 1,037 drivers undertaken by independent market research company, Surveygoo, on behalf of Brake and Direct Line. Part of Brake and Direct Line report on Roads Policing and Criminal Justice:

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Tags: sentencing penalty