More than 1,000 drivers have clung on to their licences despite having more than enough points to see them banned from the roads, including one with a staggering 68 penalty points.
Standard guidance is that anyone with more than 12 penalty points on their licence should be disqualified from driving. However, figures from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) show that neary 9,000 drivers still hold a licence despite exceeding the 12-point threshold.
Britain’s worst offender to still be legally permitted to drive has 68 points but a further six have more than 50 points and 39 have between 30 and 50 points.
Drivers can avoid a ban if they can convince the courts that losing their licence would cause them “exceptional hardship”, such as losing their job.
The DVLA also explained that where a driver receives points and a ban, they can reapply for their licence at the end of the ban. This means they can be legally entitled to drive while having a large number of valid points on their licence.
Greater London has the most drivers with more than 12 points, with 1,194 people on or above the threshold. West Yorkshire (556), Wales (512) West Midlands (491) and Merseyside (370) make up the rest of the top five.
A spokesman for the DVLA said: “The statistics provided are likely to include cases where drivers have received court sentences including disqualification, supervision orders, community punishment orders or imprisonment.
“Where sentences have been imposed other than through the totting up process, the penalty points follow standard periods of validity according to the offences concerned.
“Following the period of disqualification imposed, drivers can re-apply for their licence meaning that they can have a high number of valid penalty points and current entitlement to drive, even though the sentence of the court has been served.
“In a small percentage of cases where the driver has accumulated 12 or more penalty points, we understand that a court can exercise its discretion and not disqualify the driver.
“In the majority of these cases, magistrates may have decided to allow drivers to retain their entitlement to drive where it is considered that disqualification would cause exceptional hardship.
“The DVLA checks with courts when a driver’s 12 current penalty point threshold is met or exceeded but where a disqualification is not imposed at the time of the conviction.”
Duncan McClure Fisher, founder and CEO MotorEasy which obtained the latest data via a Freedom of Information request, said: “While most drivers throughout their lifetime will be hit with some points on their licence, this normally acts as a warning.
“But these figures from the DVLA show that there is a worryingly larger number of motorists in the UK who, it seems, have made collecting points something of a hobby.
“To have 68 penalty points on your licence shows an incredible amount of disrespect, not only for the law of the land but for other road users, too.”
Last year the Liberal Democrats called for the exceptional hardship loophole to be tightened to make it harder for repeat offenders to keep their licence.
Transport spokeswoman Sarah Olney said: “For the safety of everyone driving on our roads, it's important that repeat offenders and dangerous drivers are kept off the roads.
“It's possible that there are mitigating factors in some cases which justify these drivers hanging on to their right to drive. But if we are honest, if you have racked up a dozen points, you are probably a bad driver.
“The UK Government should examine whether the right systems are in place to put the brakes on problem drivers.”