Caroline Dunn, speeding offences solicitor for IBB Solicitors, asks if a driving ban is inevitable when a fleet driver is disqualified from driving or if there’s a way around it…
With the increased use of speed cameras and variable speed limits, employees who drive for a living and cover thousands of miles are inevitably more at risk of acquiring points on their driving licence than those who travel less.
Although there has also been an increase in speed and driving awareness courses the risk of becoming a ‘totter’ is still considerable.
Once a driving licence acquires 12 or more points in a 3 year period the courts must consider imposing a disqualification for a minimum period of 6 months.
If a licence has 9 points it will not be possible to accept an offer of a fixed penalty notice. Irrespective of the alleged offence it will be necessary to attend court where the assumption will be that a disqualification of 6 months will be imposed unless the court can be satisfied that having regard to all the circumstances that there are grounds for mitigating the normal consequences of the conviction (S35(1) Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988).
This is a two staged argument – are there mitigating circumstances, and if so are they sufficient to justify the court in not disqualifying the driver.
None of the following is permitted to enable a disqualification to be avoided:
- Circumstances which are alleged to make the offence not a serious one
- Hardship other than exceptional hardship; and
- Any circumstances taken into account by a court when the driver avoided a disqualification or received a reduced disqualification within the three years preceding the current conviction
The argument put before the court to avoid a disqualification or to seek to persuade the court to disqualify for less than 6 months is often referred to as an “exceptional hardship “argument.
A disqualification will almost always lead to hardship so for the court to consider not disqualifying it must be satisfied that the hardship is more than would normally be suffered.
To increase the prospects of this argument being successful the hearing should be planned, documentary evidence should be produced to illustrate the hardship and consideration given to calling witnesses.
The hardship is not limited to being suffered by the driver and the court can consider hardship to an innocent third party, for example a family member who depends on the driver for transportation.
Caroline Dunne is an experienced speeding offences solicitor at IBB Solicitors, providing support in making successful court applications. For more information on road traffic offences and how fleet drivers cold avoid a driving ban with 12 penalty points, please visit this link.