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Exceptional Hardship Explained

Exceptional hardship is a legal argument that can be submitted to the court to avoid a disqualification from driving when a driver accumulates 12 or more penalty points on their driving licences.

Legislation stipulates that if a driver does acquire 12 or more penalty points they should be disqualified from driving for a minimum period of 6 months. Under these provisions exceptional hardship can be argued, which if successful can result in a reduction of the 6-month disqualification or no disqualification at all.

Defining the word ‘exceptional’ is vital to any case, as just simply pleading ‘hardship’ would not be enough. Most people will suffer some kind of hardship when losing their driving licence although this is the aim of the legislation. What is not the aim of the legislation is when‘exceptional hardship’ would be caused.

What circumstances are deemed to be considered ‘exceptional’?

To be exceptional, the hardship to be suffered must be something out of the ordinary. For example, in the case of Brennan v McKay (1996),a taxi driver accumulated 12 points and argued that if he were to lose his licence he may lose his job and suffer financial difficulty. Although the court accepted the fact that the taxi driver would suffer hardship, they did not accept that the hardship would be exceptional and he was still disqualified for 6 months.

However, had the driver been able to prove that they were the sole financial provider to his family then the outcome may have been different. If he were to be disqualified it would have an effect on his mortgage repayments and risk losing his home, meaning his family would suffer from the consequences. This case would have been deemed exceptional by the Court.

The distinction between ‘hardship’ and ‘exceptional hardship’ is very important and one which needs to be determined well in advance of submitting any argument to the court by a motoring legal expert.

How do I know if my case is exceptional?

As there is no set list of what is exceptional, the lawyer at court can argue whatever case they wish in an effort to persuade the Magistrates that the hardship to be suffered would be exceptional and it will be for the Magistrates Court to assess every case on its own merits.

This said, if not just you but others around you and who depend on you either financially or to assist them in getting around would be affected by the disqualification, this may be good starting point.The lawyer representing at court would prepare and present the case in such a way as to show that exceptional hardship would, in fact, be caused. It would then be for the Magistrates to make their decision.

What would happen next?

Anybody who would be affected by a disqualification should consult a specialist lawyer to see whether they have any grounds to argue exceptional hardship.This can be a complex area of law and one where a driver has one opportunity to make their case. To ensure your case is professionally prepared from the outset to give you the very best possible chance of being successful, always contact a specialist motoring expert.

How can we help you?

To face a driving ban, this will mean that the driver will have to of committed a series of motoring offences in a relatively short period of time. However, in situations where the consequences of the penalty are no longer proportionate to the offence then that is when we step in. It is up to us to convince the court to give the driver another chance.

If the court rules against disqualifying you, then live penalty points will be added to your licence. These will remain on your license for the purpose of any future court proceedings over the next 3 years. The driver will have 12 penalty points until they have expired. If you are currently facing a totting up disqualification, please do not hesitate to contact us. We have the experience and knowledge to help you.

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