Should learners get points during their lessons? Thousands pick up points before even passing

Should learners get points during their lessons? Thousands pick up points before even passing
More than 65,000 learner drivers have points on their provisional licence before they pass their test.

According to statistics from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency, 1,803 learners have more than 10 points before gaining their full licence – a figure that breaks down to 1,588 males and 215 females.

New learner drivers are required to pass the theory test and practical exam in order to gain a full licence; however, one driver was handed a fixed-term penalty of £100 and three points for stopping over the line at traffic lights while taking a supervised lesson with an instructor.

Joseph Bell from Nottingham was 17 at the time, caught by an automatic camera while driving a dual-controlled vehicle.

After replying to a letter from Nottinghamshire Police explaining the circumstances of the offence, he later took his appeal to court.

With the help of his mother, a supporting letter from his instructor, and barrister Bruce Stuart, Mr Bell was granted an absolute discharge.

Mr Stuart said the police had shown "a complete lack of judgement" in bringing the prosecution and highlighted that the absolute discharge was extremely rare and only the fourth such ruling he had seen in 40 years.

Insp Simon Allen defended the constabulary’s actions and said there is "no mitigation for learner drivers when committing a traffic offence" and it was the job of officers "to uphold the law".

"The safety of all road users is paramount, which is why the law holds learner drivers equally accountable and they must ensure that they follow the rules of the road," he said.

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The barrister took a completely different view and called for better access to legal representation for learner drivers.

"Because there is no legal aid for this sort of offence, it forces people to accept punishment... they can't afford to do anything else," he said.

The case is encouraging questions about who should be responsible for driving offences committed during lessons in a dual-controlled vehicle.

Driving law expert Mr Stuart said: "In my view, if you're on a lesson with an instructor, there should not be a prosecution - if anyone should be prosecuted it is the driving instructor."

Retired driving instructor Richard Martin said: “There is an inherent danger in saying it should be the ADI's [approved driving instructor's] responsibility as you are then taking the responsibility away from the learner.”

Rebecca Ashton, a spokesperson from road safety charity Brake, said provisional licence holders should be able to get points on their licence.

"Driving a vehicle, even as a learner, includes taking responsibility to drive to the best of your ability and within the law," she said.

"When it comes to prosecution, each case should be looked at on an individual basis."

Joseph Bell passed his practical driving test on his first attempt with one ‘minor’ fault.

Do you think it's fair for instructors to be responsible for the driving offences of their learners? Let us know your take in the comments below

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