Disqualified Drivers: How 86,000 Brits Lose Their Licence Every Year from ONE Offence

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Moneyshake sent a Freedom of Information request to the DVLA to find out how many UK drivers lost their licence from serious motoring offences between 2017 and 2021. The data reveals that 502,888 drivers have been disqualified from driving in the last four years.

By excluding ‘totting up’ bans, where drivers accrue 12 or more penalty points in three years and therefore face an automatic disqualification, we found that 358,542 drivers have been banned after committing a single serious offence, averaging around 86,000 per year.

In 2021 alone, nearly 2,000 drivers have been banned every week

Between January 1 to March 20 this year, the DVLA data shows that 21,240 drivers were disqualified – equivalent to nearly 2,000 a week (1,931). This includes:

  • 8,476 drink-drivers, or 771 per week
  • 5,725 drug-drivers, or 520 per week
  • 1,871 disqualified drivers, or 170 per week

3,767 drink drivers are banned every month in the UK, on average

Although drink-driving convictions were relatively level between 2017 and 2019, with nearly 50,000 bans per year, the incident rate has since dropped to 40,000 bans last year – almost a fifth lower than 2017.

Combined, however, the numbers are still sobering. The DVLA data shows that 192,100 drink drivers have been banned from January 2017 to March 2021. That’s equivalent to 3,767 drunk drivers disqualified every month in the UK, on average.

Drug driving offences have doubled since 2017

In the same period, the number of drug driving offences has also doubled. There were 11,972 drug-related bans recorded in 2017, but that figure now stands at nearly 20,000 (19,568) for 2020. 

In total, 68,170 drug-drivers were prosecuted in the four-year period – an average of 1,337 each month, and a combined 34,085 years behind bars. More serious drink or drug offences, such as causing death, can lead to longer sentences of up to 14 years.

21 disqualified drivers are caught every day by UK police forces

Our research also covers drivers who were banned for driving during a disqualification. There were over 31,611 of them over the four-year period – that’s an average of 620 a month, or 21 every day.

As with drink and drug driving offences, the fine for driving while disqualified is unlimited with a six-month prison sentence.

Drivers banned for excessive speeding jumped by 60% between 2017 and 2019

17,155 drivers were banned for driving above the speed limit in the last four years – roughly half the number of disqualified drivers. That said it appears UK drivers aren’t trying to keep their speed down, as the number of speed-related bans jumped by almost 60% between 2017-2019 (from 2,975 to 4,731).

Equal bans for Brits who are caught driving dangerously or without insurance

Some might expect to slip under the radar for driving without insurance, but our research shows you’re just as likely to be caught as someone driving dangerously – by definition, driving that ‘falls far below’ the usual standards.

Only 603 bans split the two offences, with 14,512 insurance-related revokes and 13,909 for reckless driving. Both are subject to unlimited fines, while the latter also brings with it a two-year stint in jail for the maximum penalty.

Four car thieves are banned from driving every day in the UK

Nearly 7,000 drivers were banned from driving for the theft of a vehicle between 2017-2021 – that’s 130 per month or four every day.

Most surprising, however, is that as driving bans take effect immediately, they can expire before an imprisoned driver is even released. In the case of car theft, offenders could lose their licence for six months, but they can legally drive upon release if their prison term is equal to or longer than the ban.

Legislation was amended for this reason, but it only allows for the ban to be extended by discretion rather than take effect after jail time.
If you enjoyed our research, you can find more studies in the Moneyshake blog, including the top places for motoring offences and how drink driving prevention tech could help bring down crime. Don’t forget to compare the latest car lease deals, as long as you don’t plan on getting banned!

Methodology

Moneyshake sent a Freedom of Information request to the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency) to receive data on the number of drivers disqualified from driving between 01/01/2017 and 20/03/21 by year of disqualification and disqualification offence code. Totting up bans were excluded from our study as these can be caused by multiple different offences, as well as non-endorsable offences.