Six hundred drive with 12 points in Greater Manchester

More than 600 drivers from across Greater Manchester are driving with more than 12 points on their licence.

The information was obtained from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) via a Freedom of Information (FoI) request from the BBC.

Twelve points usually means an automatic ban, but courts can use their discretion if motorists argue it would cause them "exceptional hardship".

The DVLA said it had no influence over the sentences imposed.

Charity Road Peace is calling for courts to give tougher penalties.

A spokesman for the DVLA said: "Whilst DVLA maintains a record of all GB fixed penalties and court ordered endorsements, the agency has no responsibility or influence on court imposed sentences.

'Circumstances change'

"Magistrates' courts use sentencing guidelines published by The Magistrates' Association that provide a framework setting out how to establish the seriousness of each case and the most appropriate way of dealing with it.

"This helps ensure that any penalty reflects the seriousness of the offence and the personal circumstances of the offender."

Manchester lawyer Nick Freeman said it was important that courts have some discretion in how they deal with points cases.

"I think if you take away that discretion then we don't really need lawyers, we don't need judges, we don't need magistrates, we need robots.

"But if something arises and circumstances change, then you must be free to argue it and ultimately the courts - and the courts are wise people - will say yes, this is a deserving case and we're going to reduce it."

The charity Road Peace described the figures as "shocking" and called for courts to give tougher penalties to those repeatedly committing driving offences.

David Midmer from the charity said: "If we had 12 points and that's it, you lose your licence, and that was stuck to for everybody then clearly that would be the point where they learnt their lesson.

"When you are allowed to go beyond that, for whatever reason, I think it makes a mockery of the whole point."

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