A Freedom of Information request by the BBC has shown that “thousands of drink-drivers are repeat offenders”.
Drink-drivers who are more than two and a half times over the legal limit, who have two or more drink-drive offences within a 10-year period, or who refuse to give breath, blood or urine samples, are classed by the DVLA as "high-risk offenders".
The FOI request shows there are currently 230,149 banned drivers on the DVLA’s “high-risk register” and of these, 42,207 – around one fifth – have been on it before. Their licences had been returned because they were considered safe to drive when their initial ban expired.
Under new legislation introduced in June 2013, when a ban expires, offenders can only reapply for their licence when they have passed a medical test to prove they are no longer alcohol-dependent. However, this only applies to offenders since that date; those convicted earlier can drive after reapplying for their licence.
Inspector Richard Auty, Metropolitan Police, said: "I suspect from the people that I’ve dealt with that whilst it (the new legislation) will deal with the worst offenders, the binge drinkers that are able to control it will clearly not turn up to a medical drunk, so it won’t effectively deal with those people.
“I would suggest a mandatory driving test or extended driving test before you get your licence back would be a much greater deterrent."
Stephen Hammond, road safety minister, said: “Drink-drivers are a menace and it is right that we do everything we can to keep the most high-risk offenders off the road.
“That is why we have tightened up the rules which mean that they now have to take medical tests to prove they are no longer alcohol-dependent before being allowed to drive.”
Click here to read the full BBC News report.