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Can A Driving Disqualification Be Avoided If You Accumulate 12 Penalty Points Or More?

What is the law on the accumulation of penalty points?

The law states that if you commit offences within three years of each other, and the total number of penalty points you receive for these offences amount to twelve or more, then you must be banned from driving for at least six months.  

For example, if you have nine penalty points on your licence and you then plead guilty to a further speeding offence which brings your total amount of points to 12, if the offences that gave rise to these points all occurred within three years of each other, then at least a six month ban should be imposed.

Is there a way of avoiding a driving ban if you have twelve penalty points or more?

In such a situation you can avoid a driving ban if you successfully argue “exceptional hardship” before the court.

What is “exceptional hardship”?

“Exceptional hardship” is not defined in the law.  Clearly, mere hardship will not be enough.  Everyone, if disqualified, would have difficulties getting around, socialising, or shopping.  To be “exceptional” the hardship incurred must be more than would normally be suffered.  Even the loss of a job may not be enough.  In the case of Brennan v McKay (1996), a taxi driver pleaded guilty to speeding and a further three penalty points were imposed on his driving licence meaning he faced a driving ban owing to the accumulation of points.  He tried to argue “exceptional hardship” on the basis that he was a taxi-driver and therefore a driving disqualification would result in the loss of his job and he would have difficulty in finding another thereby causing hardship to his family.  The magistrates court did not find “exceptional hardship” and he was banned from driving for six months.  He appealed but here the court once more held that, although the disqualification would cause hardship, it would not be exceptional.  It is, therefore, not as easy as people think to win such arguments.

Will having a solicitor help me win an “exceptional hardship” argument?

The help of a good solicitor is often crucial in obtaining a successful outcome.  Preparation is key.  Detailed instructions will need to be taken by the solicitor who will then need to decide which arguments are the most powerful and should be stressed, and which should not be mentioned as they will weaken the entire case.  Ideally, letters need to be obtained that support the arguments put forward.  However, these need to be relevant from the point of view of the court.  Too often such letters deviate from the main points, and can provoke the magistrates by overly assertive pleas for leniency.

The person whose “exceptional hardship” argument it is must give oral evidence before the court.  If you have never done this before, this can be a daunting experience.  You need to be prepared to be asked questions by the prosecutor who may attempt to undermine your arguments.  However, if you have a skilled solicitor, then they can spend time during the hearing asking you all the questions that need answering and putting you in a favourable light before the court.  After this has taken place, the prosecutor may have difficulty to think of any questions to put when it comes to their turn to question you.  Your solicitor can then sum up, again reiterating the most important points in your arguments.

Why should I use Speeding Law Solicitors to represent me in my “exceptional hardship” hearing?

It is because of careful preparation and excellent representation at court that we have an enviable success rate.  Philip Hatvany, our founding solicitor, has a personal success rate of 93% (from 2011 to the present) for saving people’s licences when they have twelve penalty points or more.  Ring him now on FREEPHONE 0800 9098110 for a FREE initial conversation.  We offer competitive fixed fee rates (payable by instalments) so that you will know exactly where you stand financially from the outset of the case.  We represent clients throughout England and Wales.