22 points but still driving!

A SHOCKING number of Wigan drivers are still behind the wheel despite gaining 12 penalty points on their licence.

According to figures released by the DVLA in Swansea, a total of 114 people have managed to keep their licence despite meeting the maximum points under the totting up system.

Motorists who get four convictions face a ban unless they can convince a court it will cause them great hardship.

In one case a Wigan driver was still on the road with almost DOUBLE the legal total – a staggering 22 points.

Today the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) said that the figures sent out the “wrong message” because the threat of a ban was intended to make drivers’ take the enforcement of highway laws seriously.

The figures were obtained from the DVLA after the Wigan Evening Post applied for them under the Freedom of Information Act.

A spokesman for the DVLA said: “While the DVLA maintains a record of all UK fixed penalties and Court

Ordered endorsements, the Agency has no responsibility or influence on Court imposed sentences.

“Magistrates’ Courts use guidelines published by The Magistrates’ Association that provide a framework setting out how to establish the seriousness of each case and the most appropriate way of dealing with it.

“This helps ensure that any penalty reflects the seriousness of the offence and the personal circumstances of the offender.

“In a small percentage of cases where the driver has accumulated 12 or more penalty points, the court can exercise discretion and not disqualify the driver.”

Motorists and bikers who accrue 12 penalty points on their license within a three year period face disqualification from the road under ‘totting.’

But Wigan magistrates have the right to waive a ban under exceptional circumstances.

Often defendants successfully proved that they will lose their job and plunge the family into severe economic hardship.

Disabled people or able-bodied drivers on whom a disabled people depends for transport could also escaped a ban on the grounds of the hardship it would cause as may drivers involved in a business where a significant number of other employees may suffer as a result of any disqualification.

Greater Manchester Police and the Metro’s road safety department declined to comment.

Deputy Justices’ Clerk at Wigan and Leigh Magistrates Karen Mitchell said: “Many of the 114 have not appeared before this court.

“They get sentenced where the offence is committed which can be anywhere in the country or another Greater Manchester Court.

“We estimate we list up to four applications not to disqualify for exceptional hardship a month. They are done on application as the defendant needs to bring evidence to substantiate that they may lose their job or have other exceptional hardship grounds for needing a driving license.

“Of these we estimate no more than one or two a month are granted.

“Another reason for the gap may be that not all records supplied by either the defendent in the form of the driving licence or the computer printout from DVLA may be up to date or correctly identify the defendant. DVLA needs the full names of any defendent and correct date of birth.

“If the offences are sentenced close together by different courts, the correct number of penalty points may not be taken into account.

“If the DVLA is aware someone should have received a penalty points ban but didn’t, they can write to the court and ask the court to look into the matter but no such contact was made last year.”