Children as young as 12 disqualified from driving

  • Number of children aged under 17 disqualified from driving increasing year-on-year
  • 923 children under the age of 17 have been prosecuted for multiple driving offences
  • A 16 year old has already been prosecuted 15 times for driving offences
  • Call for urgent review of deterrents for under aged driving

New analysis1 by Churchill Car Insurance reveals increasing numbers of children under the age of 17 are being disqualified from driving before they are even legally old enough to get behind the wheel.  Despite not being legally old enough to drive, the courts can award children a formal driving ban to be served before their 17th birthday.

The research reveals 725 children under the age of 17 were disqualified from driving last year, an increase of five per cent on 2013 when 692 drivers under 17 were banned from the road.  This year already, 284 children too young to hold a provisional driving licence2 have been disqualified by the courts - a five per cent increase on the same period in 2013.  

Surprisingly, if children drive cars illegally on the road they may still be able to secure a driving licence when they turn 17, much like any other young driver.  Bans for underage drivers often start from the date of conviction and could therefore have expired by the time the offender reaches 17, though endorsements will still be listed on any licence issued.  Courts treat under-aged non-licence holders disqualified for driving offences exactly the same way as full licence holders, meaning a record will be set up on the DVLA’s database for non-licence holders upon which offences are registered. 

Children as young as 12 years old are being disqualified from driving by the courts, even though they cannot apply for a provisional driving licence for another five years.  Those driving cars under the age of 17 without a licence are putting themselves, passengers, other road users and pedestrians at incredible risk, as they have not been deemed fit to drive and have no valid insurance if an accident occurs. 

Steve Barrett, head of Car Insurance at Churchill Insurance, said: “It is shocking to see hundreds of children legally disqualified from driving at an age when they should never even be behind the wheel.  We need harder hitting education schemes highlighting the risks and dangers of driving underage and uninsured. It doesn’t make sense that bans are served when children are not legally able to drive.  The number of repeat offenders is proof in itself of how ineffective a deterrent this is. Bans should commence from the date an offender becomes 17.”

Churchill’s analysis also reveals that hundreds of children under the age of 17 are committing multiple driving offences.  923 children under the age of 17 have been prosecuted more than once for driving offences, with children as young as 12 convicted multiple times.  A child aged 16 has already been prosecuted 15 times for driving offences.  Statistics reveal 87 young people have been prosecuted for at least five driving offences and 15 have already been convicted of at least 10 offences.

Churchill Car Insurance’s analysis of data supplied in response to a Freedom of Information Act Request.   Courts can order a period of disqualification for any offender irrespective of age or licence entitlement held.