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The number of drivers losing their licence because of driving offences is growing; and so is the number of children who have managed to get themselves banned before they are even old enough to drive! Over the past three years, over 5,000 driving bans have been handed out to offenders under the legal age of driving qualification, and not just for driving without a licence.

And it may shock you, or not as the case may be, to know that since 2009 there have actually been five 11-year-olds caught - three of them charged with the offence of ‘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.

In total, there were 5,333 under-age offenders given driving bans since 2009, and that is made up of the 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. These figures were revealed by Auto Express having discovered the figures under release due to the Freedom of Information Act

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.”

But those bans do not come into force from the time that they are of an age where they can legally hold a licence; rather from the time that they receive the ban. But bans can be of any length.

A 12-year-old managed to get themselves a lifetime driving ban this year, five years before they were even legally old enough to get behind the wheel, after being convicted of two counts of aggravated taking of a vehicle and, incredibly, 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. But it’s not the first timers that are necessarily the problem. A total of 447 over-12s managed to get themselves a number of driving offence court appearances that would have meant a disqualification under driving law TT99 (12 points accumulation.) Why specify over 12? Because two 12 year-olds got driving bans for ‘driving whilst disqualified’ and another a six-month ban for the aforementioned TT99.

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.”

And, as we all know, it’s not just the drivers that are at risk from driving offences. 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.

But should the bans start right away rather than wait until they are at an age where they could qualify? Paul Watters think that it is right.

“It’s right that disqualifications start right away, rather than when the offender turns 17. 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.”

But there will be many out there who disagree with that statement, the majority of whom possibly read the Daily Mail. In fact, one reader on their online forum suggested that parents of the guilty children be banned as well. A bit strong really, but the problem is real. Do children, as Paul Watters suggests, take the bans as a deterrent or as a badge of honour to show off to their peer group?