Special Reasons and the Law

In some driving offence cases, there may be exceptional circumstances that led to you committing a motoring offence, including drink driving, driving in an emergency or driving without insurance. These are called ‘special reasons’ and may result in a lighter penalty, or no form of punishment at all from the courts.

What is a 'Special Reason'?

‘Special reasons’ can be relied upon in most cases: drink driving, no insurance and driving whilst unfit to name a few.

There are four minimum criteria that must be met in order for the court to accept that there are ‘special reasons’ for you committing the offence. A matter must:

  • Be a mitigating or extenuating circumstance

  • Not amount to, in law, a defence to the charge

  • Be directly connected with the commission of the offence

  • Be one which the court ought properly to take into consideration when imposing sentence

Below are some common examples of what usually constitutes as a ‘special reason’:

Typical Forms of Punishment

For the majority of motoring offences, the penalty is either a mandatory disqualification or the obligatory endorsement of penalty points. For some people, the endorsement of penalty points on their driving licence is not particularly life changing. However, a driving ban is more likely to have a significant impact on a person’s life, possibly resulting in a loss of employment.

In some instances, the court will take into account a person’s personal circumstances when deciding on the length of the disqualification that will be imposed. However, mitigating circumstances of a personal nature will not prevent the imposition of a mandatory disqualification, nor will it reduce the length of the ban below any minimum period that must be imposed.

However, as with all rules there is an exception. If you are found guilty of an offence or plead guilty, there may be ‘special reasons’ as to why you committed the offence. The court accepts that ‘special reasons’ exist, and if your situation is acknowledged, you could receive penalty points rather than a mandatory disqualification, or no points at all if your case is one involving the obligatory endorsement of points.

Drink Driving

Spiked drinks

Where your drinks had been spiked and you were unaware of your true alcohol consumption.

Shortness of Distance

The distance you drove whilst you were over the limit was only a very short distance. The paramount concern of the court in this situation would be the safety of other road users and pedestrians and the likelihood of you coming into contact with members of the public. There are also a number of other factors the court will take into account, including:

  • How far the vehicle was driven
  • The manner in which the vehicle was driven
  • The state of the vehicle
  • Whether the driver had the intention to drive any further
  • The road, traffic and weather conditions at the time
  • What was the reason for the vehicle being driven


Special reasons may apply if you have driven your vehicle as a result of an emergency, such as a friend or relative requiring immediate medical attention. However, the argument is unlikely to be successful if calling an ambulance was a viable alternative.


Where you have been genuinely misled into believing you were insured to drive a vehicle. An example of this would be when a parent takes out a policy of insurance on behalf of their child and forgets to renew the policy.  However, in the absence of being misled, this does not amount to a ‘special reason’.

Seeking to rely on a 'special reason'?

JMW has experience in successfully presenting all types of ‘special reason’ arguments to the courts. Our success is built on our strong desire to protect the interests of motorists and our refusal to accept defeat.

For most people, a court appearance is an alien event. Some people find standing before the court very difficult and quite daunting and this can sometimes impact on their ability to communicate all of the information and issues they wish to be taken into consideration by the court. So let us do the talking.

If you wish to discuss your options further, get in touch with our motoring offence solicitors. Call us free on 0800 804 8159 or fill in our online enquiry form.

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