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Penalty Points Chaos In The UK

By raccars Published

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New research by legal firm, Caddick Davies, suggests that UK drivers are facing a 'postcode lottery' in how the police deal with motoring offences. The likelihood of receiving licence penalty points or a driving awareness course varies depending upon where you live.

A Freedom of Information request was issued to police forces in England and Wales, showing that drivers in West Yorkshire are more likely to be issued with licence penalty points for minor offences, such as failure to wear a seatbelt or speeding, than to be sent on a driver awareness course. Similarly, minor motoring offences in Nottinghamshire and Cambridgeshire are more likely to be dealt with through licence penalty points than a driver awareness course.

By contrast, driver awareness courses tend to be offered for 78.82% of minor offences in Merseyside, the highest take up rate for the courses in England and Wales.

The study revealed major discrepancies in the availability of driver awareness courses. There are up to seven different courses offered in Norfolk or Humberside, for example, including seatbelt courses, driver behaviour and speed awareness, plus courses designed specifically for motorcyclists. However in Wiltshire, the only course offered to drivers is a basic driver alertness programme. In Cleveland or Devon and Cornwall, police forces only offer the same national driver alertness course or speed awareness.

Caddick Davies believes police should be taking a more consistent approach to how they handle offenders. In West Yorkshire, driver awareness courses are used in only 15.28% of offences. Uptake of courses is at 21.93% in Cambridgeshire, 24.08% in Nottinghamshire, 25.91% in City of London and 32.87% in Gloucestershire.

However, more than three quarters of motor offences are dealt with using a driver awareness course instead of penalty points in Merseyside, followed by 66.04% in Norfolk, 61% in Essex, 54% in Northamptonshire and 51% in Suffolk.

What the figures have not made clear is how often courses are offered by police but turned down, and if drivers opt for points instead.

Currently, the law states that drivers can receive up to 12 licence penalty points within a three year period before receiving a driving ban, so driver awareness courses could be considered the easy option. But it has recently been reported that thousands of drivers are still on the road despite receiving 12 or, in some cases, many more penalty points, as courts are allowed some leniency if they feel it is warranted.

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