There are limited reasons why a Court may decide not to disqualify in cases which would ordinarily involve obligatory disqualification or decide not to impose penalty points in cases which would ordinarily require endorsement. Those reasons have become known as “special reasons”.
It is important to understand that even if you can establish that you had a special reason for driving in the way that you did (either carelessly, dangerously or whilst over the prescribed limit) you may still be banned from driving if the Court decides not to exercise its discretion in your case.
What is a special reason?
Although there is no statutory definition, case law tells us that a special reason must:
- Be a mitigating or extenuating circumstance
- Not amount in law to a defence to charge
- Be directly connected with the commission of the offence
- Be one which the Court should properly take into consideration when imposing sentence.
Examples of special reasons which have previously succeeded include shortness of distance, the “laced drink” argument and emergency. Examples of reasons which have not succeeded include hardship and triviality of offence.
There is significant case law in relation to this field of law and you would be well advised to take advice regarding the adequacy of the reasons you wish to put forward, before embarking on this course.
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Totting Up/ Exceptional Hardship
Many of our clients have been summonsed to attend Court because they already have nine penalty points on their license and the imposition of further penalty points will result in their disqualification from driving. This is known as “totting up”.
If you believe that there may be grounds for persuading the Magistrates to avoid a disqualification, or to lower the obligatory term, you can raise an “exceptional hardship” argument.
Circumstances which will not be taken into account:
Any which attempt to argue that the offence is “not that serious”
Hardship (other than exceptional hardship)
Any circumstances which were taken into account on an exceptional hardship argument less than three years ago
It is worth bearing in mind that the effect of a disqualification is punitive. Almost every order for disqualification will involve a degree of hardship to the holder of the license. For hardship to be “exceptional” if must be more than is normally suffered.
Loss of employment and financial difficulties are consequences which may normally follow a disqualification. For the facts of the case to be exceptional, they would have to involve more than the ‘normal’ consequences of loss. If others are also going to be adversely affected by your disqualification, or even lose their job and/or home then these are circumstances which may more readily fall into the category of exceptional.
We have been conducting exceptional hardship arguments for over for over 10 years and can quickly advise on your prospects of succeeding in relation to your own set of circumstances. If your case is an exceptional one then we can provide you with a fixed fee for preparation and representation on the day.