Accumulating too many penalty points: Exceptional Hardship

Posted by Tim Williamson on
Blake Morgan's Driver Defence team is the leading team of specialist road traffic lawyers in the South of England.  We have been recognised by legal directory Chambers and Partners: A Client's Guide to the Legal Profession 2017 as a Band 1 firm in this field.  Our team of specialist lawyers travel all over the country to help motorists facing a driving ban or having penalty points put on their licence. Our work has taken us to Magistrates and Crown Courts all over the country.  Many of our cases have reached the Higher Courts.

How can mitigating circumstances be used in Court?

In some cases, there is simply no choice but to plead guilty. In almost all cases, credit will be given by the court for entering a timely guilty plea.  For some drivers though, there is the risk of losing one’s driving licence.  Explaining all of the mitigating circumstances can make the difference between keeping a licence and losing it. Even if the plea is one of guilty, there is in our experience plenty more that can be said and done on a client's behalf.

How our Driver Defence team have helped our clients

Exceptional Hardship

The Driving Defence team acted for K who dedicates the vast majority of her spare time to helping others for which she needs her car. K was worried that she would be disqualified from driving for six months because he had accumulated too many penalty points in a three year period. K was worried that she would not be able to take her children to school and to sports fixtures.  We represented K client at the Oxford Magistrates Court where it was agreed that such a disqualification would cause others, "exceptional hardship" as well as our client and so the Magistrates exercised their discretion not to disqualify her.

Airline pilot and part-time carer spared disqualification

H recently instructed Tim Williamson of the Diver Defence team in connection with an offence of speeding. H did not deny that she was speeding, but was concerned that she was at risk of being disqualified from driving for a period of six months because she had already accumulated nine penalty points on her driving licence. H worked as an airline pilot and travelled hundreds of miles each day from her home to the airport where she worked, often at very unsociable hours. She was concerned at the lack of public transport available and was very worried that she might lose her job if she were to lose her licence. She also acted as a carer for her elderly parents who lived in another part of the country. Tim represented H at the court hearing and persuaded the court not to disqualify her from driving at all. The court accepted that a six month driving disqualification would cause her and others 'exceptional hardship' and so the client left the court at liberty to carry on driving. Tim earned the gratitude of the client and even praise from the District Judge who heard the case.

Reduced period of disqualification for speeding, Southampton

For the purposes of Section 35 Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988, a Court when considering a totting up disqualification, can take into account a driver training course as a mitigating circumstance. Southampton Crown Court so held in the case of R v Tew 12 March 2010. Barry Culshaw of this firm represented Mr Tew who had accumulated 12 points on his licence, but due to a previous driving disqualification, now faced a minimum 12-month ban. Barry appeared before His Honour Judge Leigh QC and two lay justices and successfully argued that the Court could take into account driver training. The Court decided to impose a three month driving disqualification with the result that Mr Tew will now serve a much reduced period and also have his slate wiped clean. 

If you have any questions about sentencing and mitigation for a driving offence, contact our Driver Defence team for advice. 

About the Author

Tim is a leading Criminal and Regulatory lawyer, who defends businesses and individuals under investigation by the police and regulatory bodies and when accused of criminal offences.

Tim Williamson
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