12 Penalty points and ‘Exceptional Hardship’
Any driver facing the imposition of 12 penalty points upon their driving licence faces a mandatory 6 months disqualification from driving– right?
This statement is of course true unless you argue and persuade the Court that a 6 month driving ban will cause ‘exceptional hardship’ to you or any other person. Whilst it could be argued that any order of disqualification from driving will entail hardship for the person who is disqualified, the hardship must be clearly exceptional to persuade the Court, and it in this area that an advocate must focus his or her attention.
There is no specific legal definition of what might amount to exceptional hardship. Each case will turn on its own particular facts and the personal circumstances of the individual driver. For example loss of employment will undoubtedly cause some hardship for anyone, but whether that amounts to ‘exceptional hardship’ will depend on a number of factors, including financial circumstances and family support, to name a few. The correct presentation of an exceptional hardship argument is therefore vital to increase the chances of retaining your driving licence, albeit with 12 penalty points endorsed upon it.
Moreover, hardship can often be caused to wholly innocent individuals other than the driver and licence holder. Case law provides that the Court should take more account of hardship caused to innocent parties such as family members and employees, than to the offender. Proving the nature and extent of the hardship caused to others is often where the battle lies.
Any argument that a driver should not be disqualified because of exceptional hardship must be supported by evidence presented to the Court. The defendant will almost always be required to give evidence in Court, and to call evidence to support their case. The process of gathering and preparing the right evidence to support an application is therefore paramount to the success of any case in court.
Where exceptional hardship is found, the Court may either reduce the 6 month disqualification period to a lower period, or avoid a disqualification all together.
Reeds Solicitors have expert motoring solicitors on hand to advise upon the strength of your exceptional hardship argument, help prepare the case, and represent you in court. Our preparation and presentation of the evidence and advocacy to the Court have often been the difference between a 6-month driving ban, and retaining a driving licence.
Ensuring that you receive timely expert advice and representation will give you the best possible chance in retaining your driving licence when faced with 12 penalty points being endorsed upon your driving licence.
Jon Wilkins is a Partner at Reeds Solicitors, specialising in motoring law and private crime.