How to Avoid a Driving Ban With an Exceptional Hardship Plea

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How to Avoid a Driving Ban With an Exceptional Hardship Plea

Understanding the complexities of motoring laws in the UK can be a challenging task, particularly when confronted with the possibility of a driving ban. It is essential to fully comprehend these laws and the potential legal recourse available to you.

In the following guide, the motoring law experts at JMW Solicitors explain the considerations you should make if you believe you may be eligible to put forward an exceptional hardship argument.

Understanding Driving Bans

A driving ban or disqualification is a legal directive that temporarily or permanently revokes an individual's driving licence, thereby prohibiting them from operating a motor vehicle on public roads in the UK. Driving bans are typically issued by courts following serious motoring offences, such as drink-driving, careless driving, or dangerous driving.

The duration of the ban can vary based on the severity of the offence and the driver's past record. For less serious offences, the ban might be a matter of months, while serious or repeat offences can result in a ban lasting several years or, in extreme cases, a lifetime disqualification, albeit rare.

One such type of ban that UK drivers frequently face is a 'totting-up' ban. This is a term used in the UK to refer to a driving disqualification resulting from a driver accumulating 12 or more penalty points within a span of three years. The duration of the ban is contingent on the severity of the offences committed and typically ranges from six months to two years.

If a driver is at risk of being disqualified from driving due to totting up, they may be able to argue exceptional hardship to reduce or remove the ban imposed.

What is Exceptional Hardship?

The term exceptional hardship refers to situations that extend beyond the regular inconvenience or difficulty that a driving ban might cause. These are circumstances that have a significant and extraordinary impact on an individual's life. Examples might include severe financial consequences leading to insolvency, job loss with no feasible alternatives, or an impactful detriment to someone who relies on your ability to drive, like a family member with serious health conditions.

Defining exceptional hardship can be a bit nebulous as the circumstances vary significantly from case to case. However, some situations are generally recognised as demonstrating exceptional hardship:

  1. Severe financial consequences: if a driving ban would cause severe financial hardship such as bankruptcy or foreclosure, you might argue exceptional hardship. For instance, if you run your own business and the success of the business is significantly reliant on your ability to drive, a ban could lead to its collapse, and subsequently, financial ruin.
  2. Loss of employment: if a driving ban results in losing your job, and it can be shown that finding alternative employment is unlikely or not feasible, you might be able to claim exceptional hardship. However, remember that the loss of employment does not automatically constitute exceptional hardship - it must be proven that the loss of your job would have repercussions beyond the usual impacts.
  3. Impact on dependents: if you have a dependent, like a child or elderly relative, who relies on your ability to drive for their wellbeing, you may have grounds for an exceptional hardship plea. This might include driving them to medical appointments or providing care that cannot be fulfilled by public transport or other reasonable means.
  4. Medical reasons: if you or a family member has a medical condition that requires frequent hospital visits, or there is a need for rapid transport in case of emergencies, the loss of your driving licence could be argued as causing exceptional hardship.
  5. Lack of reasonable transportation alternatives: if you live in a remote location with limited access to public transport and you rely on your vehicle for essential activities such as grocery shopping, this might be considered exceptional hardship.

It is vital to understand that these examples are not guarantees of a successful exceptional hardship plea. Each case is evaluated on its own merits, and it is the court's discretion that ultimately decides whether the circumstances described qualify as exceptional hardship. It is highly recommended to seek legal advice when considering an exceptional hardship plea.

Am I Eligible to Make an Exceptional Hardship Plea?

The eligibility to submit an exceptional hardship plea is not universal for all drivers facing a ban. Exceptional hardship arguments have specific criteria for eligibility, including being at risk of a totting-up disqualification due to accruing 12 or more penalty points, and having exceptional hardship conditions. It is critical to understand that mere inconvenience due to a driving ban does not warrant eligibility to plead exceptional hardship. The hardship must extend beyond the person involved and encompass others who are dependent on the individual's ability to drive.

What Does Not Constitute Exceptional Hardship?

It is crucial to differentiate between inconvenience and exceptional hardship. The loss of a driving licence naturally leads to difficulties such as dependence on public transportation; however, these do not qualify as exceptional hardship. Similarly, the potential loss of employment may not always meet the criteria, especially if other employment options are available. Each case is considered based on its unique circumstances, but in general, typical hardships that are reasonably expected do not fall under the umbrella of 'exceptional'.

What is the Process of Making an Exceptional Hardship Plea?

If you meet the eligibility criteria, the initial step is to consult a specialist motoring offences solicitor - such as those at JMW Solicitors. Our solicitors' proficiency and understanding of the legal process are indispensable for a successful plea.

Your solicitor will help you gather all necessary evidence to substantiate your claim once you decide to proceed. This evidence might include financial records, medical reports, or support letters. Subsequently, they will assist you in preparing for the court appearance, advising on what to anticipate and the optimal way to present your case.

On your court hearing day, either you or your solicitor, or both, will present your case to the magistrates. The court will scrutinise your plea and make their judgment based on the evidence and arguments laid before them.

Post-Plea Scenarios: What Happens After Making an Exceptional Hardship Plea?

Once your case has been presented, the court may either grant or reject your exceptional hardship plea. A successful plea might allow you to retain your driving privileges or lead to a reduced disqualification period. Alternatively, a rejected plea would result in the enforcement of the totting-up ban.

Irrespective of the outcome, successfully arguing exceptional hardship will not remove penalty points from your licence. Furthermore, the same grounds for exceptional hardship cannot be used again in court within a three-year period.

Having a comprehensive understanding of exceptional hardship pleas is vital for those at risk of a driving ban due to a totting-up situation. However, it is important to remember that every motorist has an obligation to adhere to the motoring laws in the UK. Driving is a privilege, not a right, and abiding by these rules is paramount to ensure the safety of all road users.

Successfully arguing exceptional hardship is neither a straightforward process nor a guaranteed solution to evade a driving ban. It requires tangible proof of extraordinary hardship that goes beyond your personal circumstances, often impacting those dependent on your driving ability. Thorough preparation is key, and seeking advice from a solicitor experienced in motoring laws can significantly improve the chances of a successful plea.

While an exceptional hardship plea may appear as a lifeline when confronted with a driving ban, it is not a remedy for repeated infringements. Persistent offenders may find their pleas less persuasive, as the court will take into consideration their driving history and the nature of their offences.

For help navigating your totting-up disqualification, speak to the motoring law experts at JMW Solicitors today. Simply call us on 0345 872 6666, or fill out an online contact form and we will return your call at a time suitable for you.

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