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More than 600 drivers convicted of killing someone while driving allowed back on Britain's roads

Meanwhile, 5,000 motorists who have served three or more drink-driving bans also get licences back

The DVLA has revealed that more than 600 motorists convicted of killing someone while driving have had their licences returned, leaving them free to drive again. The news comes just weeks after it was revealed that there are more than 5,000 people driving legally on Britain’s roads who have been banned at least three times for drink-driving offences.

The disclosure regarding the motorists who were driving again having been convicted of causing a fatal road traffic incident was made in a response to a Freedom of Information Act request, a copy of which has been seen by

The DVLA’s response gave a breakdown of the number of motorists who, as at 26 November 2011, were driving again after having reapplied for their licence upon expiry of their ban, broken down by the specific offences of which they had been convicted.

Those were:

  • Causing death through careless driving when unfit through drink -  192
  • Causing death by careless driving when unfit through drugs -  3
  • Causing death by careless driving with alcohol level above the limit - 125
  • Causing death by careless driving then failing to supply specimen for alcohol analysis - 11
  • Causing death by careless or inconsiderate driving - 148
  • Causing death by driving: unlicenced, disqualified or uninsured drivers - 13
  • Causing death by dangerous driving - 138

Total: 630

(Nb: Five motorists were convicted of two separate offences, so the total number of motorists involved is 625)

The DVLA was unable to confirm the identity of who had made the Freedom of Information request, although The Mirror apears to be the only media outlet to have reported on the data.

Yesterday, in a story on the figures, the newspaper quoted the response to the data of Martin Howard from the road safety charity, Brake.

“Driving is a privilege which these people have abused with devastating consequences and the fact that so many continue to drive is a source of emotional turmoil for many bereaved families across the UK,” he said.

“Brake has long campaigned for lifetime bans for drivers whose bad driving has killed, to help bring justice to families and communities who lost loved ones in such sudden and violent circumstances.”

Currently, motorists convicted of causing death by dangerous driving face a maximum prison sentence of 14 years, as well as an automatic ban from driving of at least two years.

The length of prison sentence actually imposed - if any - as well as any fine imposed depends on issues such as the specific facts of the case and can also differ according to the court where the trial is held.

Driving bans imposed as a result of such cases used to run alongside jail sentences, creating a situation whereby the driving ban could in effect be sat out in a prison cell, effectively rendering it meaningless.

In 2009, however, the law was changed thanks to a campaign led by Jan Woodward, whose daughter Kelly had been killed three years earlier when she was a passenger in a car driven by a drunk-driver.

Last month, The Mirror also reported that there are more than 5,000 motorists legally entitled to drive on Britain’s roads despite having three or more convictions for drink-driving.

Two men – one aged 46 and from Staffordshire, the other a 31-year-old from Manchester – were able to apply for and be given new driving licences despite each having been banned from driving eight times.

Lifetime driving bans are rare in the UK, although an example is the one imposed on Dennis Putz, the lorry driver found guilty in November 2010 of causing the death through dangerous driving of cyclist Catriona Patel in June 2009.

It emerged that Putz had three previous convictions for drink-driving and three for careless driving.

He had been imprisoned twice for driving offences, first in 1995, when he was sentenced to six months after being convicted of reckless driving.

Then, in 2003, he received another prison sentence following 16 counts of driving without a licence.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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koko56 | 11 years ago

You could say that things needs to change in the wider public perspective to make bad driving extremely... bad - socially w/e but at the same time those who already have offences or potential for committing any things in the article could be considered a lost cause? In a way that there "will always be someone like that"?

Though what if word starts getting around that there are some heavy consequentness for pulling shit like this, then it seem realistic that more people would think twice?

paulfg42 | 11 years ago

That makes horrible reading.

joemmo | 11 years ago

if you look at the transport minister recent idiotic assertion that the ability to drive faster on motorways would help economic growth then you get an insight into the mentality that permits this. After all, taking away a person's right to drive is harmful to their ability to earn money and generate tax revenue; which is the most important thing, right?

Note to - can you say what period these numbers cover? 625 in one year or over x number of years from when to when?

Simon_MacMichael replied to joemmo | 11 years ago
joemmo wrote:

Note to - can you say what period these numbers cover? 625 in one year or over x number of years from when to when?

It's not a period as such, it's a snapshot in time - as at 26 November 2011, there were 625 motorists who had successfully reapplied for their licence to be returned after being convicted of one of the offences listed. I've clarified that in the article.

joemmo replied to Simon_MacMichael | 11 years ago

Thanks Simon. I wonder when they started recording the stats then...

Paul M | 11 years ago

Especially the judiciary.

If you are convicted of killing with a firearm, I'll hazard a guess that you would never be given a firearms permit of any sort, ever again. Indeed, in principle you couldn't get one if you had a record of many more minor offences.

You can be banned from driving for life for things in which you are really quite innocent - for example, if you are visually impaired, or suffer from epilepsy. Quite right you might say because you woudl be a danger to yourself and to others.

I guess no-one thinks it is a basic human right, or an existential need, to be able to shoot, but I can't quite figure why it should be so considered to be able to drive, or why anyone who is evidently a danger to self and others from their history of offending should not be treated the same way as ditto through no fault of their own.

velobetty | 11 years ago

Frankly, I suspect the reason people get their licenses back is because the majority of people in this country (including the judiciary) consider driving a vehicle to be a basic right rather than the often damaging and harmful thing it really is.

mad_scot_rider | 11 years ago

And still we hear about the "war on motorists" in the rags!

therevokid | 11 years ago

The almighty car driver rules again .... even life bans
wouldn't be a deterent to some ... after 16 counts of driving without a license this is supposed to stop him !!!

thereverent | 11 years ago

I'm not really surprised.

The way driving licences are returned even after fatal or serious crashes is a joke.
THe government needs to reform the licence system to take dangerous drivers off the road permantly.

bassjunkieuk | 11 years ago

It makes me sick to read this. The law in this country is a joke with regards to drivers.

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