Totting - The Mandatory 6 Month Disqualification
Friday, 3rd June 2016
The importance of a driving licence is very often underestimated. Unfortunately it is only at the point where there is a threat that the licence will be taken away that it becomes apparent that for many, it is probably one of the most valuable assets to them. It may be the case that the person lives in a remote area and would be isolated without the ability to drive, they may be at risk of losing their job, income and house if they are unable to pay their mortgage, rent or other monthly outgoings. Again, unfortunately these factors are very often only considered at a stage where it is too late and that threat has become very real.
Under section 35 Road Traffic Act 1988, if a driver accumulates 12 or more penalty points in a 3 year period (from date of offence to date of offence) then the Court must impose a mandatory minimum 6 month disqualification. There is of course an exception to this rule. If you can demonstrate that Exceptional Hardship would be caused if you were to be disqualified from driving for 6 months, the Court can use their discretion to impose a shorter period of disqualification or can choose not to impose a period of disqualification at all by simply imposing penalty points and allowing the you to continue driving. It is important to note that you cannot present an Exceptional Hardship Argument on the same grounds as one already presented within the preceding 3 years.
So what constitutes Exceptional Hardship?
The wording ''exceptional'' itself gives a great deal away. Hardship is not sufficient to satisfy the Court not to impose the mandatory 6 month disqualification. The hardship does have to be exceptional. Previous case law has held that even the loss of employment by itself does not constitute Exceptional Hardship. Whilst the Court consider hardship that would be caused to the defendant and other people, a heavier weighting is given to the hardship that would be caused to others. Generally this is due to the fact that others are being punished for the mistake of the defendant, when it is not their fault that this position has arisen.
I would suggest that if you are at risk of a totting disqualification, you obtain legal advice and have your circumstances considered in fine detail by an expert in road traffic law to ensure that all possible angles are covered. It will not be as easy as simply saying you will be unable to get to work, the Court will ask follow up questions, which if you are not prepared for may see your argument fail.