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MARCH 11, 2011

Red card for Ron's driving licence

A year on from Lewis Hamilton's 'hooning' episode in Melbourne, McLaren chairman Ron Dennis has been banned from driving in the UK.

The 63-year-old Dennis pleaded guilty to running a red stop light in his Mercedes in Bagshot, England, early one morning last September.

As part of his defence, Dennis said that a friend was travelling behind him in another car and he feared that stopping suddenly at the lights might cause a crash.

"There were only two other cars around but I felt that it would be more prudent to continue rather than stop," Dennis told magistrates. "It was the decision I took for which I realise I'm here to take the penalty but I really need my licence. I have no hardship but I would have a massive amount of trouble not being able to look after my daughter at weekends." Dennis and wife Lisa recently separated.

The UK operates a points system under which licences are lost when 12 penalty points are reached. Dennis already had nine points on his licence from three previous speeding offences since April 2008 and was given three more points, automatically disqualifying him or six months.

Dennis' plea of exceptional circumstances was unsuccessful and he was also ordered to pay a fine of £350, court costs of £43 and a surcharge of £15.