HUNDREDS of motorists in Scotland are driving legally – despite clocking up more than the 12 penalty points which normally see motorists disqualified.
According to statistics from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), released in response to a Freedom of Information request, a “snapshot” sample taken on 10 May revealed that 363 motorists were still behind the wheel with 12 or more points on their licences.
Twelve points is the level at which a court should impose a ban unless it considers there are “exceptional circumstances”.
Road safety campaigners called the situation “shocking” and “appalling”.
Robert Toft, head of data sharing policy at the DVLA, said: “The agency has no responsibility or influence on court-imposed sentences. In Scotland, sentencers determine each case on its merits and give full consideration to the most appropriate way of dealing with it.
“The statistics provided are likely to include cases where drivers have received court sentences including supervision orders, community punishment orders or imprisonment.
“In a small percentage of cases where the driver has accumulated 12 or more penalty points, the agency understands that a court can exercise its discretion and not disqualify the driver.
“In the majority of these cases, sentencers may have decided to allow drivers to retain their entitlement to drive where it is considered that disqualification would cause exceptional hardship.”
Male offenders keeping their licences despite having 12 points or more outnumbered female drivers by more than six to one – 315 to compared to 48.
One man in Glasgow was still on the road despite having 24 points on his licence. Another man in Edinburgh was also still driving despite accumulating 21 points, and a third man living in the Kirkcaldy area remained undisqualified despite 21 endorsement points.
The “worst” female offender still driving, according to the DVLA, was a woman from Edinburgh with 18 points on her licence. Glasgow has the highest number of such drivers, 83, followed by Edinburgh with 50.
A far smaller proportion of Scottish drivers hold on to their licences when reaching the 12-point maximum than in England. Almost 7,000 drivers in Britain have accumulated at least 12 points on their driving licences within three years.
Prof Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “These figures will shock law-abiding motorists. What sort of message are courts sending out?
“Most of us would understandably think 12 points equals an automatic ban. It doesn’t. These drivers have managed to convince the courts that if their keys are taken away they will suffer exceptional hardship.
“So much for everyone being equal before the law.”
James McLoughlin, spokesman for the road safety charity Brake, said: “It is appalling that risky repeat offenders are being allowed to continue driving with so many points.”