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Tuesday 15th November 2016

Are you worried about losing your driving licence?

It's that time of year when the party poppers are coming out and the office parties present the chance of "just one more". If you are unfortunate enough find yourself on the wrong end of the Law, the consequences can be dramatic. If a motorist’s licence is endorsed with 12 or more penalty points the Court must consider a driving disqualification.

Certain offences carry mandatory points; a speeding offence may carry 3 points, whereas driving without insurance will carry between 6 to 8 points.

Points can be accrued over a period and can be ‘totted up’ over a period of three years. A ‘totting up’ ban results in a minimum of 6 months’ disqualification. Some offences also carry a discretionary disqualification even in circumstances when the motorist has not accrued 12 or more points. The Court can order discretionary disqualification for such period as it thinks fit, depending on the level of seriousness of the offence.

If you are a new driver, having held your licence for 24 months or less, 6 endorsed points on your driving licence would result in your licence being revoked and you would have to go through the whole process of passing your theory and driving test again.

There are several ways you can avoid a disqualification if you are liable under the ‘totting up’ procedures:
To avoid endorsement and disqualification, you have the following options:
1. You can argue ‘Special Reasons’ to persuade the court not to endorse points on your licence. This is a complex area of law and the circumstances in which ‘Special Reasons’ can be argued are limited and you should seek legal advice.
2. You could seek to persuade the Court there are circumstances which would allow them not to impose a disqualification albeit your licence would be endorsed with the penalty points. If you are successful in arguing what is called an ‘Exceptional Hardship’ you can either be disqualified for a shorter period or your licence can be endorsed with the penalty points and no disqualification imposed. There is no precise definition of what amounts to ‘Exceptional Hardship’.

The burden of proving ‘Exceptional Hardship’ will be on you and it must be proved on the balance of probability, which means you must prove it is more likely than not that ‘Exceptional Hardship’ would be suffered. The Court would not only look at ‘Hardship’ that would affect the driver, but whether the loss of the licence could lead to hardship for others, such as if you were a single parent, a carer or an employer AND the loss of your licence is likely to cause ‘Exceptional Hardship’.

If ‘Exceptional Hardship’ is found the Court can agree not to disqualify or they can impose a reduced driving ban. If you get a reduced ban, then all the penalty points that led to the ban are removed from your licence.

If disqualification is not imposed you could still find yourself with a driving licence with 12 points. Should you become liable within the next 3 years to a further period of disqualification due to an additional endorsement you would not be able to argue the same ‘Exceptional Hardship’ circumstances again.

Our specialist Road Traffic Law Team can provide advice on all aspects of Road Traffic Law.

Julia Brassington: 01392 209207. julia.brassington@rundlewalker.com
Michaela Rose: 01392 209209. michaela.rose@rundlewalker.com