Jeremy Sirrell, a Partner at Palmers Solicitors who specialises in defending motorists accused of committing road traffic offences has warned that anyone who expects to keep their driving licence after totting up 12 or more points could be sorely disappointed.
He issued the warning following a number of cases where people were allowed to keep their licences on the basis of ‘exceptional hardship’.
He said: “Despite these prominent cases, motorists cannot proceed on the assumption that they will be permitted to retain their licence if they accrue 12 or more points for offences such as speeding.
“As the law stands, anyone who accrues 12 points on their licence in any three-year period is automatically disqualified from driving for a minimum period of six months. The only exception to this, highlighted by recent stories in the press, is where a motorist can prove that losing their licence will incur ‘exceptional hardship’.”
However, according to Jeremy, doing so is unlikely to be straightforward and will usually require specialist legal advice.
“Claiming ‘exceptional hardship’ means that the motorist will have to prove that, on the balance of probabilities, a driving ban would cause more than the straightforward hardship of no longer being able to drive.
“The grounds for claiming ‘exceptional hardship’ are likely to involve innocent third parties who would be penalised as a result of a ban, such as dependants or employees.
“The onus is very much on the motorist to prove the case for ‘exceptional hardship’, which means that a robust argument needs to be put forward.
“Motorists are only likely to be successful in such circumstances where they have prepared and taken steps to ensure that all the evidence in support of the argument has been taken into account and is presented in the strongest possible terms.”
He said that the same reasons cannot be given in support of a claim for ‘exceptional hardship’ twice in any three-year period.
“Anyone who accrues 12 or more points on their licence is likely to be at serious risk of losing their licence. Retaining a licence in these circumstances is far from guaranteed,” he added.