HUNDREDS of “dangerous drivers” are still on the roads across south Essex, despite racking up enough points for a ban.

Analysis of DVLA data reveals that 267 drivers across Basildon, Southend, Castle Point and Thurrock have managed to dodge a ban after being given 12 or more penalty points on their licence, which would normally mean a ban.

The figures show 46 drivers in Castle Point, 56 in Southend, 76 in Thurrock and 89 in Basildon had 12 or more points but were not banned.

Road safety charity Brake has slammed the existing system, which it says is allowing “repeat offenders” to exploit loopholes in the law.

If a driver can convince a magistrate that they, or an innocent party such as a family member, will face “exceptional hardship” as a result of losing their licence they may be permitted to keep it.

In Castle Point, the highest number of points received by one driver who is still allowed to drive is 30, in Southend was 33, Thurrock 43 and 21 in Basildon.

Joshua Harris, director of campaigns at Brake, said: “By ignoring the exploitation of the ‘exceptional hardship’ loophole that allows unsafe drivers to remain on our roads, the Government and courts are complicit in increasing the risk to the public.

“This dangerous loophole must be dealt with as a matter of urgency so that drivers who reach 12 points are automatically disqualified, protecting the general public from harm.

"Driving is a privilege, not a right and if that privilege is not exercised responsibly, it must be taken away."

The charity is calling for the loophole to be closed as part of its Roads to Justice campaign, which says an urgent review should be carried out on the “fundamentally flawed road traffic framework”.

Ian Gilbert, councillor for Victoria Ward in Southend, said the public need to be reassured dangerous drivers can't reoffend.

He said: "It's clearly worrying if this is happening, speeding for example is a big issue in several wards in the area, I think the public would want to be certain that if they are driving dangerously that there is a deterrent.

"As a general principle, these drivers should not be given the means to keep offending."

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: “The vast majority of drivers who get 12 penalty points are automatically disqualified. The courts have access to DVLA records which are taken into account, but sentencing is rightly a matter for independent judges based on the facts of each case.”