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Drivers risking licence bans for minor offences

Drivers in England and Wales are being hit by tougher punishments for motoring offences, increasing the risk of a ban for a string of minor offences, new research suggests.

Where just a fine would have been dished out in the past, drivers are being hit more often with a double whammy of points and fines.

Where just a fine would have been dished out in the past, drivers are being hit more often with a double whammy of points and fines.

Data obtained under an FOI request shows that drivers are increasingly being hit by both penalty points and fines for motoring offences compared to just fines in the past.

The government data showed the number of drivers receiving such “double whammy” punishments each year increased 20.8% between 2011 and 2016 – from 1,858,000 to 2,244,000.

At the same time, those given a fine-only for road infringements dropped 69.8%, from 424,000 to 128,000, according to the research by 24|7 Vehicle Rescue.

The data also found the court action taken against drivers in both categories increased 14.1% (from 255,000 to 291,000 (for drivers facing fines and points and 266.7% (from 6,000 to 22,000) for those with fines alone, although the firm said the reasons for this are unclear.

Overall, the annual number of drivers issued with an endorsable or non-endorsable Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN), which are used to deal with most motoring offences, leapt 5.3% from 2,585,000 in 2011 to 2,723,000 in 2016.

The figures follow the 2013 introduction of new ‘careless driving’ penalties – intended to help the police with tackling problem motorists – which mean officers can issue £100 fines and three points for drivers caught middle-lane hogging, tailgating, undertaking and driving too slowly, rather than taking them to court.

Ian Pownall, director of driving offence specialist Banaway, said the research showed how drivers could quickly end up on the verge of losing their licence after a string of quite minor offences.

“These statistics are a sign that restrictions and punishments for drivers are getting tougher, which means even the most careful driver could easily find themselves on the wrong side of the law,” he said.

“I’m not defending someone who might be caught doing 90mph outside a school, drink drivers or those who habitually use their mobile phone. But there is a bigger picture.

“Many rely on their car for a living and could rack up fines simply because of the amount of time they spend behind the wheel.”

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.