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What Happens If You Get 12 Points?

You can accumulate penalty points for a variety of driving offences including speeding, using a mobile phone, driving without due care and attention, and driving without insurance..

People mistakenly tend to think that if you receive 12 penalty points on your driving licence you must instantly be banned from driving.  However, there is often a way for your licence to be saved.

What Is A “Totting Up” Ban?

People often wonder how many points are needed for a ban.  If you accumulate 12 penalty points or more on your driving licence and the offences giving rise to these points took place within 3 years of each other then you will be known as a “totter”, and the laws says that in those circumstances you must be banned for a minimum period of 6 months.

12 points On Your Licence But No Ban.

However, you can avoid such a ban if the magistrates find that you, or others, would suffer ‘exceptional hardship’ if such a ban was imposed.  There would have to be a hearing at the Magistrates Court to establish whether this was the case, and you would need to give sworn evidence.

What Is ‘Exceptional Hardship’?

‘Exceptional hardship’ is not defined by the law.  It must, obviously, go beyond hardship that a person would normally suffer if they lost their driving licence.  It must be more than just mere inconvenience caused by not being able to drive.  For example, not being able to see friends or go shopping, although clearly causing hardship, would not be classed as “exceptional hardship”.

‘Exceptional Hardship’ Examples.

There are a great many different possible ‘exceptional hardship’ examples.  Many people argue that if they can’t drive then they will lose their job.  However the case of Brennan v McKay shows that the magistrates are unlikely to think that losing your job, by itself, would amount to ‘exceptional hardship’.  In order for them to find ‘exceptional hardship’ they would need to hear how the loss of the income from your job would have consequences, for instance your being unable to pay the rent or mortgage.  Even this by itself probably wouldn’t be enough.  The magistrates would be very interested to hear if anyone else would be affected.  Magistrates tend to have a lot more sympathy for ‘innocent parties’ rather than for the perpetrator.  They will want to hear about how any members of your family, or your friends, will be affected if you cannot drive.  If any of these people are physically or mentally vulnerable, then this will increase the likelihood of magistrates finding ‘exceptional hardship’.

The Importance Of Documentation.

The magistrates are increasingly cynical and they often don’t believe that the ‘exceptional hardship’ argument that is being put to them is true.  It is therefore very important that such arguments are backed up with relevant letters and documentation.  For example, if it is being argued that disqualification will result in you losing your job, then it would be appropriate to obtain a letter from your employer saying that this is the case.  If you arguing that you need to be able to drive to continue to visit someone who is unwell then medical documentation explaining their condition would be helpful.

The Outcome Of An ‘Exceptional Hardship’ Argument.

If you lose an ‘exceptional hardship’ argument then the court has no option but to ban you for at least 6 months.  However, any points that you had on your driving licence will be removed.  

If you win your ‘exceptional hardship’ argument, then the magistrates will normally not disqualify you.  Often this will result in someone being in the strange situation where they have 12 or more points on their driving licence but they are able to drive.  Nonetheless it must be borne in mind that if you are in this situation you will not be able to use the same ‘exceptional hardship’ arguments again for 3 years.  If you have any more points imposed on your driving licence a disqualification will therefore be almost inevitable.

‘Exceptional Hardship’ Argument Driving Ban

It is possible for magistrates to find exceptional hardship but to ban you for less than a 6 months period.  However, this is very rare.  It is almost always the case that if the magistrates find exceptional hardship they will simply allow you to continue to drive.

Appealing A ‘Totting Up’ Ban.

If an ‘exceptional hardship’ argument fails and you are disqualified then you can appeal to the Crown Court in the hope that they will disagree with the magistrates and find ‘exceptional hardship’.  A ‘Notice of Appeal’ will need to be lodged with the Magistrates Court, who will in turn inform the Crown Court and you will be given a date as to when your appeal hearing will take place.  In the meantime, you can apply to the Magistrates Court to have your driving ban lifted while you are waiting for the appeal hearing to take place.

Do You Need A Solicitor?

The majority of people who argue ‘exceptional hardship’ without a solicitor are unsuccessful.  This is because they do not know how to prepare an effective argument.  A good solicitor can help you obtain relevant letters and documentation in support of your arguments.  Thorough preparation is very important.  At the hearing, your solicitor will ask you questions first in front of the magistrates.  A good solicitor will take their time doing this, putting you in the best possible light before the court.  This is important because the next person to ask you questions will be the prosecutor.  If all the relevant questions have already been put by your solicitor then the prosecutor will have difficulty to come up with new questions.  This will make it less likely that the prosecutor will succeed in undermining your case.

Speeding Law Solicitors are specialists in road traffic law.  We represent clients throughout England and Wales.  Philip Hatvany, our leading driving offence solicitor, has a 94% average success rate for arguing ‘exceptional hardship’ going back to 2011.  Call him now for free initial advice on Freephone 0800 9098110.