In a recent Freedom of Information request made to the DVLA, it was disclosed that 10,797 new drivers had their driving licence revoked in 2012. New drivers are classified as those who have held their full UK licence for less than two years. If they accumulate six penalty points or more on their licence within these first two years then their licence is automatically revoked. No disqualification is imposed, however they must re-take both their theory and practical tests.
The figures show that more than half of the drivers who had their licence revoked were convicted of driving without insurance; the second most common offence was speeding. It has often been said that new drivers are forgoing insurance due to the prohibitive costs involved and these figures would seem to corroborate that claim. It should however be pointed out that this offence is by no means restricted to younger drivers and there are currently no figures showing exactly how many drivers are convicted of driving without insurance.
These figures may also be skewed as it only requires one conviction of no insurance to cause a new driver’s licence to be revoked as the minimum penalty for this offence is six points. On the other hand speeding can carry anything between three and six points, therefore a number of drivers who get caught speeding on only one occasion will not have their licence revoked unless it is a particularly high speed.
The Association of British Insurers has also pointed to the advances of technology as a reason for the large number of people being caught and convicted of the offence. Scott Pendry of the ABI said: “Due to advances in technology, people driving uninsured are being identified in a much better way. So if they are not on the central database showing they are insured, they will face severe ramifications.” Many police cars now have on board cameras which will automatically inform them if a car does not have a valid insurance policy in place.
Not all of these offences are being committed intentionally. Many young drivers are insured on their parents policy and an oversight when taking out a renewal can sometimes mean that they are missed off the policy. There is also a common misconception that if you hold a comprehensive insurance policy, that it enables you to drive other vehicles. This is not always the case and in many instances the policyholder is restricted as to what vehicles they are able to drive.
In some instances, new drivers can avoid having their licence revoked by accepting a short period of disqualification instead. Any offence that carries penalty points also gives the Magistrates the discretion of imposing a disqualification as an alternative. If the offence carries three points this can be as short as a few days, but this does range up to more length disqualification periods depending upon the severity of the offence. Sometimes the Courts can also be reluctant to impose a discretionary disqualification as an alternative to penalty points if they see it as getting away with a less serious punishment.
In some offences a disqualification is mandatory and the Magistrates also have the power to order a driver to re-take their tests. However only 0.6% of the licence revocations were as a result of driving under the influence of drink or drugs. This would seem to indicate that the Courts do not often utilise their powers to order a re-test as well as a disqualification in these circumstances, perhaps believing that the disqualification itself is a serious enough punishment.
By Alex Garner, paralegal in the motoring offences department