12/08/2016 00:01 BST | Updated 12/08/2017 06:12 BST

Thousands Driving Legally Despite Totting Up More Than 12 Penalty Points

Thousands of motorists are driving on Britain's roads despite having racked up enough penalty points to qualify for a driving ban, according to new figures. 

Some 8,600 drivers have 12 or more points on their licence but are still legally allowed on the roads, a Freedom of Information request found.

Two motorists, in Liverpool and Basildon, have clocked up 51 points each but are still driving, the research by esure car insurance revealed.

Road safety charity Brake blasted the figures and called on the Government to "get tough" with "selfish, irresponsible and potentially deadly drivers". 

The figures mark a 25% increase from last year, when 6,887 drivers had 12 or more points on their licence, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) data shows.

Drivers with 12 points must attend court and usually face a six-month ban, but magistrates can use their discretion if the offender can show that losing their licence will cause them "exceptional hardship".

More than half of the 2.8 million people who currently have points on their licence were caught speeding, the figures covering England, Scotland and Wales showed.

Other reasons for the points include careless driving, driving without insurance and failing to stop at an accident.

Birmingham is the area with the highest number of drivers who have points on their licence, followed by Nottingham and Sheffield.

As for drivers still on the roads despite having 12 or more points, Croydon tops the list, followed by Cardiff and then Leicester.

In separate research carried out for the company by Opinium, more than 1.5 million people admitted taking points for others, with many saying they wanted to protect a driver who feared losing their job.

Jon Wilshire, chief underwriting officer at esure, said it was "astonishing" that drivers could have so many points and not be disqualified.

He said: "If drivers continue to flout the law then there need to be clear consequences. Driving safely not only guards you against getting points on your licence but also keeps drivers, passengers and other road users safe."

A spokeswoman for Brake said the points system was never intended to allow so many people to "evade disqualification".

She added: "It is outrageous that these individuals, who rack up offence after offence and show complete disregard for the lives of other road users, are allowed to continue driving.

"It's time for magistrates and the Government to get tough with these selfish, irresponsible and potentially deadly drivers, and put a stop to their illegal and dangerous driving before it results in a devastating crash."

Sheena Jowett, deputy chairman of the Magistrates' Association, which represents magistrates in England and Wales, said: "Magistrates deal with the vast majority of driving cases and, just like other offences, no two cases are ever the same.

"Our members deal with cases purely on the facts before them and use discretion as the law provides, this includes issues of exceptional hardship.

"It is for law-makers in parliament to decide whether the law surrounding driving bans and the points system needs to change."