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totting up

The system under which offences endorsed on a driving licence are added up to empower the courts to order *disqualification from driving. Until 1 November 1982, certain road offences (listed in a Schedule to the Road Traffic Act 1972) were totted up if, within three years before committing the latest offence, the accused had been convicted and had his licence endorsed on two occasions. Since that date the system has been altered. All traffic offences subject to compulsory or discretionary disqualification are now assigned a number of penalty points (reflecting the gravity of the offence). (reflecting the gravity of the offence). When a person is convicted of any of these offences, and his licence is endorsed but he is not disqualified, the endorsement states the number of points for that offence. If he is disqualified for the offence, the penalty points that would normally apply to that offence are not endorsed. When the penalty points endorsed within the past three years - together with the points acquired on the latest offence - amount to 12 or more, the court must order disqualification for a minimum of six months, but the points applying to the latest offence are not endorsed. If the accused has already been disqualified within the three years before the latest endorsable conviction, the minimum disqualification is for one year; if he has been disqualified more than once, the minimum is two years. Mitigating circumstances are still permitted (to prevent disqualification or shorten the period), but only upon proof of exceptional hardship. When several offences are committed together, the licence is only endorsed with the points relating to the gravest offence. If a person is disqualified under this system, all previous points are eliminated, and he gets back a clean licence after disqualification. Penalty points for the most important offences are as follows.

10 points - *reckless driving; being in charge when unfit or with excess alcohol in the body (see *drunken driving); failing to provide a *specimen of breath.

8-10 points - failing to stop after a *road accident.

8-10 points - failing to report an accident.

8 points - taking a *conveyance.

6-8 points - *driving without insurance.

6 points - *driving while disqualified.

3-9 points - *careless or *inconsiderate driving.

4 points - any offence involving obligatory disqualification for which disqualification was not ordered because of special reasons or mitigating circumstances; failing to provide a specimen for a preliminary *breath test.

3 points - *speeding; leaving a car in a dangerous position (see *obstruction).

2 points - *driving without a licence; driving under age.

The legislation also provides that (1) all endorsements on the licence before 1 November 1982 are to count as 3 points; and (2) the relevant date for calculating the 3-year period is to be the date such offences were committed (not the date of conviction).

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