The Penalty Points System

Penalty points are acquired on a driver's licence through the commission of specific offences which range from, at the high end of the spectrum, offences such as being in charge of a vehicle with excess alcohol, through offences such as driving without insurance to offences such as driving a motor vehicle with a defective tyre.

The minimum number of points that can be imposed are 3 and the maximum 11.

Some offences carry a fixed number of penalty points and others carry a varying number of points, the exact imposition of which falls within the discretion of the court.

The taking of any number of penalty points on a driving licence can have a number of consequences. If 12 points are accumulated within a 3 year period then a court must impose a period of at least 6 months disqualification, which under certain circumstances can be increased beyond this period of time. This is the application of the totting-up process.

A driver can also argue in respect of the totting-up procedure that the imposition of a disqualification under those circumstances would lead to Exceptional Hardship. In that situation, for example, he would have to demonstrate that the loss of his licence would cause an unusual level of hardship, usually both to himself and to others.

Special Reasons
A driver is at liberty to argue, in respect of the commission of any offence which carries a compulsory imposition of points, as to the existence of Special Reasons. An example of this argument might be that a driver committed an offence only because he was dealing with an emergency.

Each of these proceedings, each technical in their nature, have to be argued in front of a Magistrates Court.

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A further consequence of the application of penalty points on a licence is the implication that this brings with regard to a driver's Insurance Company. The number of points and the nature of offences committed are leading Insurance Companies to load drivers' premiums under certain circumstances.