Crack Down on Exceptional Hardship
Magistrates could be given new guidance which would reduce the ability of a driver to argue Exceptional Hardship and avoid a ban, in a Consulation issued by the Sentencing Council.
Where a driver reaches 12 or more penalty points on their licence, they will be subject to a minimum 6 month disqualification under the totting up rules. The disqualification can be longer if there have been previous disqualifications or where the record is particularly serious.
There is a loophole in the law, which allows the driver to avoid a disqualification if it would cause them ‘Exceptional Hardship’. This has never been defined by law but generally the argument will be related to loss of employment or difficulty in meeting caring commitments for children or elderly relatives.
The Consultation considers whether the Court should be given stricter guidelines in order to ensure that only the most serious cases of hardship are allowed and to provide some consistency in the approach of the Court. It suggests that documentary evidence is required to substantiate what the Court is being told and a reminder that any disqualification will naturally cause some hardship, so the Court must set the bar much higher. The publication of certain exceptional hardship cases in the press, with drivers reaching over 40 penalty points, has led to criticism of the Courts from members of the public for being too lenient and taking a soft approach on motoring offences. The Consultation closes in April and could see amended guidelines being used in Courts later this year. Click here to view the Consultation.
At Smith Bowyer Clarke, we have been representing drivers facing totting up disqualifications for many years. For some drivers, a disqualification would be completely devastating and have far reaching implications, both immediate and in the long term for family dependants and employees. We have a very high success rate in exceptional hardship cases and will be very open about the merits of the case in our initial advice meeting. Regardless of the outcome of the Consultation, it is apparent from our experience over the last few years that Courts are tightening their approach. If you are facing a totting up disqualification, we are happy to discuss your case free of charge and advise if you have a case to put forward. We offer a fixed fee service for representation at Court and will ensure that you have the very best chance of a successful outcome.
Call our team today 01332 987420