In the UK, accumulating 12 penalty points on your driving licence typically triggers a ‘totting up’ procedure, which can lead to disqualification from driving.
However, there are exceptional circumstances under which a driver could amass a dozen points and still be permitted to drive.
In fact, it’s estimated that between 2017 and 2021 more than 35,000 of the 142,275 motorists that totted up 12 points avoided being banned due to claiming ‘exceptional hardship’.
Understanding the nuances of this system and the concept of ‘exceptional hardship’ can shed light on how some motorists navigate these rules without facing a ban.
What Having 12 Points on Your Licence Means
In the UK, accumulating 12 or more penalty points on your driving licence within a three-year period typically leads to disqualification from driving.
This is known as the ‘totting-up’ system. Here’s what happens when you reach this threshold:
Notice of Intended Prosecution
When you are caught committing a driving offence that carries penalty points, you will usually be sent a Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP) informing you of the intention to prosecute you for that offence.
Once you have accumulated 12 points, you will likely be summoned to court. The court will then decide whether to impose a driving ban.
The minimum period for disqualification under the ‘totting-up’ system is six months, but this can be longer if you have previous disqualifications.
At the court hearing, the magistrates have the discretion to impose a driving ban based on the totting-up guideline.
The starting point for disqualification is:
- Six months, if no previous disqualification is to be taken into account.
- One year, if the driver has been disqualified for 56 days or more during the three years preceding the most recent offence.
- Two years, if the driver has been disqualified twice in the three years preceding the most recent offence.
12 Points But No Driving Ban: Arguing Exceptional Hardship
It’s not a commonly known fact, at least not until someone is facing a driving ban, but almost one in five drivers with 12 points or more are escaping bans.
A court may allow a driver to keep their licence if they can prove that losing their licence will cause ‘exceptional hardship’.
This is beyond the normal inconvenience of not having a vehicle, it must be much more significant.
Valid reasons could relate to the impact on your job, family care, medical conditions, or the effects on others who rely on your ability to drive.
This is something you will need to discuss with a solicitor, but as you can see from the numbers, it’s not uncommon for a driver to have 12 points but no driving ban in the UK.
How to Check How Many Points a Driver Has on Their Licence
To see the current number of points on a driving licence, you have to options:
Using The Gov.uk Site
You can check a driver’s licence by visiting the Gov.uk site, but it’s a time-consuming process and really only ideal for a one-off check.
If you’re a fleet manager, using the Gov.uk method means relying on your drivers visiting the site and filling in some of their personal data.
Your drivers will then be given a Check Code to pass on to you. This Check Code is essentially the driver giving you consent to check their driving status and licence details once.
You’ll have to repeat this process every time you want to make a check, for every driver individually.
Using FleetCheck LicenceAssured
The easiest way to check a high number of drivers’ licences and stay on top of checking licences with minimal administrative work is by using FleetCheck LicenceAssured.
To use FleetCheck LicenceAssured, all you need to do is obtain consent from your drivers either electronically or on paper, which is then valid for up to three years, and the consent record can be stored securely in the LicenceAssured software.
You are then able to check their driving licence details whenever you feel necessary.
This is particularly useful for checking on high-risk drivers periodically, or setting annual reminders so you never forget to check the eligibility of your drivers.