Twenty-six drivers from Hyndburn are allowed to drive on our roads despite reaching the penalty point limit of 12, the Observer can reveal.
One resident has amassed 15 points on their licence but has escaped a ban, figures from the Driver and Vehicle Licence Agency (DVLA) show.
The figures, released under a Freedom of Information request, reveal the numbers have gone up by nearly 50 per cent since 2013 when only 14 drivers were allowed the drive with 12 or more points.
Drivers can normally expect a ban of at least six months when they rack up 12 points within three years, unless they can demonstrate that disqualification would cause “exceptional hardship”.
But 22 people in Hyndburn are legally allowed to drive, despite reaching this mark. Three others have 13 points.
Road safety charity Brake said drivers with 12 points should be ‘automatically disqualified’.
A spokesperson said: “The penalty-points system is designed to protect the public from dangerous repeat offenders, but the system is being undermined. Thousands of drivers with 12 points or more have been allowed to retain their licence.
“Many drivers who have reached 12 points have been using a loophole to keep their licence by claiming it would cause ‘exceptional hardship’ if they were banned.
“This loophole needs closing urgently: driving is a privilege, not a right; and if that privilege is not exercised responsibly, it should be revocable.”
Accrington councillor and magistrate Munsif Dad said ‘very few people’ qualify under the exceptional hardship rule.
He said: “I know they do check vigorously the reasons why they are applying for hardship and these people have to prove the reasons why.
“Some do need it maybe for medical reasons, a family that is extremely ill and needs to go from A to B or the person is the sole bread winner and keeping their licence will keep their family earnings.”
A DVLA spokesperson said: “In a small percentage of cases where the driver has accumulated 12 or more penalty points, the agency understands that a court can exercise its discretion and not disqualify the driver.
“In the majority of these cases, magistrates may have decided to allow drivers to retain their entitlement to drive where it is considered that disqualification would cause exceptional hardship.”