Thousands of children have received driving bans in the last few years despite being too young to qualify for a licence, Government figures show. And their list of crimes – obtained by Auto Express after a Freedom of Information request to the DVLA – is truly shocking.
Five 11-year-olds have been banned since 2009 – three of them for the aggravated taking of a vehicle, which is legal jargon for stealing a car and then driving it dangerously or causing injury or damage to people or property.
A 12-year-old got a lifetime driving ban this year, five years before they were even legally old enough to get behind the wheel. They were convicted of two counts of aggravated taking of a vehicle and one of failing to supply a specimen for alcohol testing. And a 15-year-old got a two-year driving ban after being convicted of causing death by dangerous driving.
Secretary of State for Justice Jeremy Wright said: “Young people who are convicted of driving offences will be subject to penalty points and disqualification even if they’re not yet old enough to hold a driving licence.” Bans come into force from the time they are imposed by a court, rather than from when the offender reaches driving age.
The AA’s Paul Watters said: “I think the average motorist will be horrified by these figures. Motoring lawlessness is a real problem in this country. Thankfully only a small minority of young people behave in this way.”
In total, 5,333 under-age offenders have been given driving bans since 2009. That includes five 11-year-olds, 41 12-year-olds, 164 13-year-olds, 578 14-year-olds, 1,420 15-year-olds and 3,125 16-year-olds.
Incredibly, two 12-year-olds were hit with bans for driving while already disqualified by order of a court. And another 12-year-old was given a six-month ban for offence code TT99 – meaning he or she was disqualified under the ‘totting up’ system, suggesting they managed to accrue 12 points over a period of time.
And they weren’t alone: a total of 447 older kids managed to tot up enough minor offences to earn a disqualification under TT99.
Two children caused death by dangerous driving, 389 were banned for dangerous driving, 470 were done for drink-driving and 1,874 were convicted of aggravated taking of a vehicle.
“It’s right that disqualifications start right away, rather than when the offender turns 17,” added Watters. “You have to give young people the benefit of the doubt as far as possible.
“I think that just having the ban will act as a deterrent for most of these people – the offence will be on their record, so they’ll have to be careful when they do reach driving age.”