A TAUNTON man has escaped a driving ban despite racking up 12 points on his licence because it would cause “exceptional hardship”.

Gary Griffiths, of Cleveland Street, was caught driving at 86mph on the M5 between junctions 26 (Wellington) and 27 (Tiverton) on May 24, 2023.

The 53-year-old told magistrates that he “wasn’t paying attention” and was “trying to get to work” at the time of the offence.

He also said he due to go to Tiverton, where he plans to buy a house.

Griffiths, who already had nine points on his licence, pleaded guilty to the offence under the Single Justice Procedure on January 2.

But he avoided disqualification because of the impact it would have on his family.

Griffiths also said a ban would affect his ability to visit housing development sites across the South West under the business he runs.

“I can visit four, five or even six sites in the same day,” he said.

“I’ve built up a good reputation, so people wanted more work doing.

“If I couldn’t drive, then I would lose work.”

He said the money is “not there” to hire someone as a chauffeur and using taxis or public transport would be impractical for his family responsibilities.

Magistrate Andrew Wallace, sentencing, said the court ‘accepted the arguments’ that exceptional hardship would occur for his family if he was banned.

He said: “Being someone who has 12 points means we should ban you from driving with immediate effect.

“This does mean you have 12 points on your licence, and it does mean if you get any more points on your licence, you will be coming back to court.”

Griffiths was fined £269, which was reduced from £403 because of his guilty plea.

He must also pay a £108 surcharge and £90 in court costs within 28 days.

A man from a Devon village was also spared a driving ban because of the impact it would have on his job and charitable work.

​Alexander Muirhead, of Ashley House, near Tiverton, drove his black Volkswagen at 52mph on a stretch of the M32 near Bristol that has a 40mph limit.

The 61-year-old apologised to the court and said he had “no excuse” for his actions.

He had already accumulated nine penalty points and was ineligible for a speed awareness course because he has attended one within the last three years.

Muirhead runs a company that supplies hotels and restaurants and employs five members of staff, three of whom work full-time.

A key part of his role is driving to see clients – something he says involves a lot of mileage and could not easily be taken on by a member of staff.

“It would certainly mean that the business would not be in such a healthy state,” he said.

And he said his voluntary work – which involves driving a truck in war-torn Ukraine – would not be possible if he had had his licence revoked.

“I work for a Scottish charity, and we run food and mobile kitchen supplies in the far east of Ukraine,” he said.

“I’ve just come back from three weeks over there. I’ve done it twice, and I’ve got another trip booked in.

“It’s very much appreciated, and it’s a lovely thing to do.”

He also cited concerns that a driving ban would leave him isolated in his rural village.

When he was sentenced, Muirhead was told: “We’ve considered what you have said to us today and your application for it (a ban) not to apply; in particular, we note the three aspects you raised.

“You put to us the charitable work that you do, and driving is an essential part of that work. On that basis, we find there is exceptional hardship.”

He added: “You have 12 points on your licence, and they will remain on your licence.

“If you commit any further offences and appear in court, you will not be able to use any of these arguments again.”

Muirhead was fined £269, which was reduced because of his guilty plea. He must also pay a £108 surcharge and court costs of £90 within 28 days.