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More than 40 drivers in Northern Ireland have over 12 penalty points

Forty-three drivers in Northern Ireland are still allowed to drive despite having 12 or more penalty points.

Figures released to the BBC's Nolan Show revealed there is one driver on the roads in Northern Ireland with 21 penalty points.

Despite reaching the limit at which they would ordinarily be disqualified, exceptions exist in the law which allow some motorists to remain on the road.

These include circumstances where a ban could cause "exceptional hardship".

Drivers are normally liable to be disqualified if they receive 12 or more penalty points in a three-year period, or receive six or more penalty points within two years of passing their first driving test.

'Distressing news'

Sinn Féin transport spokesperson Seán Lynch said there were road safety concerns in light of the revelations.

Mr Lynch said it would be "distressing news to those injured or bereaved by dangerous driving".

"I will be asking the minister for infrastructure for clarity on this issue and to outline the conditions which allows drivers with 12 penalty points or more to keep driving," he said.

'Mitigating circumstances'

In a statement to the Nolan Show, the Office of the Lord Chief Justice said it "works with the legal framework set down by legislation" and noted there are circumstances which are considered "mitigating".

Disqualifications are made under Article 40 of the Road Traffic Offenders (Northern Ireland) Order 1996.

Once a person receives 12 points on their licence, it is at the discretion of the court whether a disqualification takes place.

The court also has the discretion to disqualify someone for a shorter period of time.

In a statement, the Department for Infrastructure said the Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA) records penalty points as advised by the courts, but does not have the power to disqualify a driver.

The spokesperson said if the court is satisfied that there "are grounds for mitigating the normal consequences of the conviction" it can decided on a discretionary basis "not to order such a disqualification".

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