When a driver accumulates twelve penalty points or more within a three year period, section 35 of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 states that a disqualification from driving should be imposed for a period of at least six months. This is commonly referred to as ‘totting up.’
Is it possible to avoid disqualification?
The legislation goes on to state that if the court is satisfied, having regard to all the circumstances, that there are grounds for mitigating the normal consequences of the conviction (i.e. disqualification) it can order a defendant to be disqualified for a shorter period (then six months) or not to order disqualification at all. This is commonly referred to as exceptional hardship and an argument outlining the reasons why a defendant should not be disqualified needs to be heard before a court.
What is considered ‘Exceptional Hardship’?
There is no specific legal definition of exceptional hardship and our experience shows that some courts can be more sympathetic in their approach to disqualification than others. The courts take the view that everyone suffers some degree of hardship if they are disqualified from driving. For the courts to use their discretion and not disqualify an individual, the hardship they would suffer must be above and beyond general hardship.
The court will also take into account the impact of disqualification on other innocent third parties and such arguments can be the strongest ones to advance.
Successful Examples of Exceptional Hardship:
- 2017 – Mr X ran a small business. He employed six other individuals and he was responsible for securing sales contracts by visiting clients across the country, often in locations inaccessible by public transport. No disqualification ordered.
- 2017 – Mrs A had an elderly mother in her 80s who had recently suffered a broken arm in a fall and was awaiting formal diagnosis of dementia. Mrs A would visit her mother daily and take her to a variety of hospital appointments. No disqualification ordered.
Is losing my job considered Exceptional Hardship?
The loss of employment is generally not considered to be exceptional hardship. However, the consequences of loss of employment can sometimes amount to exceptional hardship, for example, repossession as a result of missing mortgage payments.
Do I require a specialist motoring solicitor to represent me?
It is possible to appear in court unrepresented. However courts are be intimidating environments for those unfamiliar with them and court staff are not in able to offer legal advice.
We would always suggest that it is advisable to have a solicitor to present your case to the court. The form of exceptional hardship arguments can vary significantly across different courts. Some courts will require a defendant to give evidence on oath to the court about their circumstances. Other courts however will want to hear arguments against disqualification put forward before the defendant gives evidence on oath to simply confirm the truth of the same. Our many years of experience allows us to advise which method of presenting your case would be preferable.
It is also crucial to check that you actually do face disqualification under the totting up provisions. The court will consider the number of penalty points on your licence at the time of offence and although points will show on your licence for four years, they only count for totting up purposes for a period of three years. If in doubt contact Ruth Peters on 0808 168 0017 for further advice.
Olliers Motor Law Success
At Olliers Motor Law we have many years experience of successfully running exceptional hardship before magistrates’ courts across England and Wales and the vast majority of our clients avoid disqualification. We understand that every client is unique and will consider each case on its merits and advise what evidence will be required to strengthen each argument. We can advise on the form of character references and the actual process itself.
Speak to a Specialist Road Traffic Solicitor
If you require legal representation due to the number of penalty points amassed on your driving licence please contact Ruth Peters by telephoning 0808 168 0017. You can also email Ruth at [email protected] or click here to contact us.
Olliers Motor Law do not undertake cases on a legally aided basis.