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Get the point!

High on The Fuelcard Company’s priority list this week was a warning to drivers and fleet managers about transferring penalty points, a practice thought to have been carried out by thousands of motorists for many years, but which in reality is a very serious offence that could result in an unlimited prison sentence.

This warning coincides with the high-profile case of Energy Secretary Chris Huhne, who is being accused of asking others to take speeding points on his behalf in order to avoid a driving ban.

The opportunity to transfer penalty points in this way arises from the fact that, in England and Wales, speed cameras usually only record the rear number plate, with a notice sent to the registered keeper who must report who was behind the wheel.  Whether or not the offender was the owner, many people with existing points persuade partners, family, friends or colleagues to claim they were driving.

It’s a tempting ruse for employers and private drivers alike. The prospect of having to recruit and train a temporary or permanent replacement for an experienced driver or staff member is an inconvenience and expense they could do without.  Far easier and cheaper to prevail upon another employee to take the points, then pay the comparatively modest insurance uplift. Meanwhile, you can almost understand why couples swap penalty points when one partner is at risk of losing their mode of transport or even their job.

However, describing this as a false economy is a bit of an understatement if drivers are caught and imprisoned long-term for perverting the course of justice.

The Fuelcard Company’s Sales and Marketing Director, Jakes de Kock, says everyone should be aware of the dangers of taking this route: “If a fleet manager brokers the transfer of penalty points between two of their drivers, at least three people have conspired to commit a criminal offence that commonly results in a three-to-six-month stretch.  That’s a career-ending punishment and a very unpleasant experience.”

Fleet managers could use telematics, or even fuel cards, to monitor drivers and ensure this practice is not going undetected. The latter can be issued in the names of individual drivers which, if they make purchases on a journey, will identify who was behind the wheel at a particular time and place.

It’s certainly time for drivers and fleet managers to ‘get the point’, before their illegal points practices get them!
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