Friday, December 05, 2008

What a bunch of totters

I sat in on a traffic court today, and it made me realise that The Law is a big softie when it comes to drivers.

It allows you to accumulate ("tot up") twelve points in any three year period before there's any question that you will lose your licence.

Get caught doing just over the speed limit once ? Pay a modest fine and have three points.

Get caught "forgetting" to renew your insurance ? Have six points and a bigger fine.

But as long as you keep your nose clean for three years there's no further action taken - the points fall away and are forgotten like bad dreams.

People end up in magistrate court with their licence at risk either because they have committed a more serious no-no (e.g "Driving While Disqualified") or because they have accumulated 12 point and over and have become "Totters".

Anyone want to share the road with serious lawbreakers or persistent minor lawbreakers ? Thought not.

The presumption is that someone with twelve points is likely to get banned for six months plus. The exception is where the magistrates are convinced that banning someone would cause "exceptional hardship".

This is a poorly understood concept, for example the fact that the driver will likely lose their job is not usually considered exceptional.

One tip - get a lawyer. In court today I saw an intelligent articulate man make an absolute hash of it. I felt for him because he was a fellow freelancer and losing his licence is going to affect his business at the worst possible time. But under questioning he had to admit that his wife could drive, his kids were old enough to be independent and no-one else in the world would be inconvenienced even slightly if he couldn't get back in his 4x4 for the next six months.

Don't feel too sorry for him - he had chances and he blew it and now he'll have to study the bus timetable for a while.

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