the BBC is showing a dark subtitled police drama set in an obscure land right now: Hinterland.
The land is deepest mid-wales, centred on Aberystwyth -but with lots of time spent in the hills inland. Mountain bikers should be watching it for the scenery, as should anyone who feels like exploring it on the Tregaron Mountain Road.
Like all rural detective stories, there is the challenge of dealing with one murder a week -a rate that puts it ahead of the CUBA conurbation -its utterly implausible.
That is, until you hear about a takeaway driver in the town allowed to drive after clocking up 29 points.
- He already had 11 points in his license -i.e. one point from a ban.
- Despite knowing any driving crime would remove his license, he was caught speeding.
- Despite driving full time in a mountainous region, he wasn't even keeping his vehicle in good condition, and had a defective tyre. On mountain roads that actually matters all year round.
- He was caught driving without insurance twice. Not once: twice, as though he didn't get insured after the first one.
The excuse was the usual: no car no job. Then added another: makes his family homeless.
HE SHOULD HAVE CHANGED HIS BEHAVIOUR AFTER GETTING TWO 11 POINTS
Dodging the first ban could have been a sign of leniency by the magistrates, but what it has clearly done is got him complacent and made him think he can keep speeding. No doubt his insurance premiums went through the roof, so all he did was stop insuring his car. But even after being caught once for being uninsured, he kept on driving. Does anyone seriously think he will get insured now? That he won't speed now?
Even the piston-head forums think he's taking the piss here. If it was just speeding you reach for the Keith Peat tinfoil hat and say "any speed is safe", but he was up for an unsafe vehicle and being uninsured.
A DRIVER WITH A HISTORY OF SPEEDING WHILE UNINSURED IN AN UNSAFE VEHICLE IS A DANGER TO ALL
The magistrates were actually prepared to let this potential killer free. Which shows how the points system with its "exception hardship" plea is broken.
BY ALLOWING A HARDSHIP PLEA, DRIVERS WITH GOOD LAWYERS GET TO KEEP BREAKING THE LAW
But it is more than that.
BY PROVIDING A GET-OUT CLAUSE, DRIVERS WITH 11 POINTS IN THEIR LICENSE WILL HAPPILY SPEED ROUND IN DEFECTIVE VEHICLES AND NO INSURANCE.
If every driver going above 12 points lost their license, then every driver in the country, now matter how much they could spend on a legal team, would know that getting to 9 points meant "time to stop speeding", and getting to 11 means "I had better not break any road laws for the next three years".
THIS INCIDENT SHOWS PRECISELY THE POINTS SYSTEM IS UTTERLY BROKEN
New Zealand has a special workaround for the "I need it for my job/family" excuse, a Limited License.
From the document:
The District Court can grant a Limited Licence if it is satisfied that:
- the applicant is eligible to apply for a licence, and
- the applicant will suffer “extreme hardship”, or someone else will suffer “undue hardship”,
- as a result of the disqualification, and
Your disqualification is meant to be a penalty or a punishment, so the court won’t mind if you are merely inconvenienced. For example, if public transport is available to get you to work, the court may require that you take public transport for the period of your disqualification, even if it grants you a Limited Licence to keep on working.
- public safety will not be put at risk by the granting of a licence.
When the court makes the order for the Limited Licence, it will specify:
- why the licence has been granted, the circumstances in which the driver is permitted to
- drive, and any conditions attached to the grant of the Limited Licence
- the details of the vehicle the driver is allowed to drive
- the days and times of the week the driver is allowed to drive
The purpose of the Limited Licence is to lessen the hardship of not having a licence. It is not a substitute licence allowing the disqualified person to drive whenever and wherever they want.
- the areas in which the driver is allowed to drive.
Before applying for a Limited Licence, you need to think about:
- which car you need to drive
- what times and days you need to drive
- where you need to drive (the areas, suburbs and streets) – creating a map to attach to your
One of most common conditions for Limited Licences is that the driver must carry a notebook (called a “logbook”), which they fill in every time they drive the car. The logbook should record the time and the odometer reading (kilometres driven), and the start and finish times of all car trips. It should also state where they left from and where they went, and why each trip was made.
- application is a great idea
It gets better. The application must include affadavits by the employer, and if the police object it's that much harder to get through -meaning they get a say in the matter, rather than just a magistrate with undue leniency towards "it could happen to anyone" tickets.
You can’t apply for a Limited Licence if you:
- have been disqualified from driving for an indefinite period (under section 65 of the Land Transport Act), or are currently disqualified because you were convicted of driving while disqualified, or of driving outside of the terms of Limited Licence, or
- have committed a serious driving offence (which has a minimum sentence of six months
- disqualification), within five years
- are disqualified from driving a passenger transport vehicle (for example, a taxi or bus) and
- you want a Limited Licence in order to drive that vehicle.
There's also an automatic 28 day "no driving" period if the total ban would be over six months, so you get to experience 4 weeks getting used to not driving. This makes it clear to the driver that they are being punished -and what their life would be like if they don't behave.
If you were disqualified for an offence with a mandatory sentence of six months suspension from driving, there is a 28-day “stand down” period between when you were disqualified from driving, and when the court will hear your application for a Limited Licence.
It may seem bizarre to have a get-out clause on a ban, but we already have one -exceptional hardship.
And once you have got that plea accepted, you can carry on before -no punishment at all.
A limited license restricts what you can drive: example, you could drive an employer's vehicle for delivering takeaways, but not your own car to and from the takeaway. It restricts where you can drive, so if you can show the delivery zone, then the court would say 'here is the area in which you can drive". And if caught driving outside the zone: bye bye license, no excuses.
If you pull of the "need to care for a relative" story, then the judges could say "your house, their house, hospitals, valid routes and some shops on the way". No other destinations.
And the larger the journey area you want to cover -the harder the judge will look at the application, and the more likely it will to be refused.
You can still hire those fancy lawyers, but now their job becomes to argue about the size of the limited area, not why the driver should be completely unpunished.
This is a far better solution to the exception-hardship-carry-on excuse. It allows people who can show they will lose their job to keep their job, without giving them freedom to drive as they like. It's still flawed -it lets some dangerous drivers keep driving- but we are clearly doing that today, without any ability to restrict their driving habits if the hardship plea gets excepted.