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Disqualification & “Totting Up”

There are two ways to be disqualified from driving. These are:

  • The court can order a period of disqualification
  • If you accumulate 12 or more penalty points on your licence you will receive a “totting up” disqualification


Sentence of Disqualification

Many motoring offences carry a sentence of either obligatory or discretionary disqualification.

If you plead or are found guilty of an offence which carries an obligatory disqualification, the court MUST disqualify you from driving unless “Special Reasons” apply. Examples of offences carrying obligatory disqualification include:

If you plead or are found guilty of an offence which carries a discretionary disqualification, the court MAY disqualify you from driving. Examples of offences carrying discretionary disqualification include:


“Special Reasons” to Avoid Disqualification

If you plead guilty to, or have been convicted of, an offence which carries points, or an obligatory or discretionary disqualification, you may still in some circumstances avoid a disqualification if Special Reasons apply. These must relate to the circumstances of the offence itself. Examples of what might amount to special reasons include:

  • A drink driver who was unaware that his drink had been spiked with alcohol
  • A driver who committed a motoring offence which involved a genuine emergency
  • An uninsured driver who had been misled into thinking that they were covered by a policy of insurance

The burden is on you to demonstrate, with evidence, that Special Reasons apply. You may call witnesses and documentary evidence to support your case. This can be a complex area of law and it is always wise to be represented in a Special Reasons hearing by an experienced motoring lawyer.


Disqualification by “Totting Up”

If you accumulate 12 or more penalty points on your driver’s licence, you should receive an automatic disqualification from driving. If however the court is satisfied that a disqualification would amount to “Exceptional Hardship” the court can decide in the circumstances not to disqualify you. Again, the burden of demonstrating this is on you, and it can be a high bar to meet. Many people find the prospect of preparing their case and giving evidence stressful. Mere inconvenience or hardship is not sufficient to avoid disqualification. Examples of when a driving disqualification might amount to exceptional hardship may include:

  • Resultant bankruptcy or defaulting on a mortgage
  • No longer being able to care for a vulnerable family member
  • Getting heavily into debt

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