There are two ways in which a person may be disqualified from driving a motor vehicle:
- Where the offence is so serious that it warrants an immediate disqualification. Disqualification can be mandatory (usually the minimum is 12 months) or discretionary (for any period).
- Where penalty points are awarded instead of a disqualification and the accumulation of points on the driving record reaches twelve or more within three years. Disqualification for a minimum of 6 months is mandatory and the period of disqualification may increase where there have been previous disqualifications. This is known as a ‘totting-up’ disqualification.
Different offences carry different levels of penalty points (e.g. speeding 3-6; no insurance 6-8; careless driving 3-9). Just with the ever-increasing number of speed cameras on our roads today, it is all too easy to accumulate 12 penalty points and activate the totting-up provisions.
How to avoid disqualification
If you are unfortunate enough to be prosecuted for a driving offence, there are ways you can defend a totting-up disqualification. You can either: –
- Defend the allegation made against you on a procedural, legal, or factual basis
- Argue that “special reasons” exist which mean that the court should either not impose points on your driving record, or should impose less than the usual number of points
- Persuade the court that there are sufficient mitigating circumstances not to impose a totting- up disqualification, or for you to be disqualified from driving for a shorter period. This is often called an “exceptional hardship” argument
- Where you do not have a strong exceptional hardship argument, it may be in your interests to argue for a discretionary disqualification instead of penalty points, because such will likely be for a shorter period than a totting-up disqualification.
The hardship must result from a disqualification and the hardship must be exceptional. It is what it says on the tin! People will often suffer as a result of a disqualification (e.g. loss of job or home), but usually the impact upon the defendant is insufficient to justify a finding of exceptional hardship. The impact of your disqualification upon other blameless people may more readily be inferred to be exceptional. You will need to consider whether your being disqualified will have a serious impact upon anyone else. Do you have an elderly relative that you take shopping on a regular basis? Do you do the school run every day? Are you involved in any charity/community work that will suffer if you are unable to drive?
In every case where a person is at risk of disqualification there must be a detailed examination of the reasons for the offence, and the impact of a disqualification. Often where the client might not have thought the hardship was exceptional, upon closer examination a strong exceptional hardship argument can be found and presented to the court.
Exceptional hardship is for the defence to prove. You will be required to give evidence under oath and supporting documentation is often required. Occasionally we may also call other witnesses to give evidence.
How can Wheldon Law help?
We can help you to identify grounds for exceptional hardship and provide guidance as to the preparation and collation of information to assist, so that we can present the best possible argument at court. It is important to ensure that all preparations have been completed or you may lose your best chance to avoid a disqualification.
When defending your licence time is of the essence! Contact us today! Do not delay!
Legal Aid funding may be available, and if it is not, we can discuss our fees with you. Contact Martin Crawford-Brown today on 01442 24299 for a free initial telephone consultation or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your licence is important. Let us help you keep it.