Under current UK driving laws, if a qualified driver accrues twelve or more on their licence within a set period, they face an automatic ban from driving, commonly referred to as totting up. Exceptional hardship offers an argument for the automatic ban to be prevented in certain circumstances. Here I’ll explain when this argument can be successful.

A driver may find themselves with points on their licence for several reasons including for speeding offences, dangerous driving, or using a mobile phone at the wheel. Each offence brings with it a number of points, usually ranging from 3 to 8 points. If numerous offences are committed within a 3-year timeframe, these points are then added to each other. Once the tally reaches 12, the driver faces a totting up ban of a minimum of six months.

What is exceptional hardship?

A totting up ban is issued with the aim of punishing the driver for multiple driving offences but it is not to cause exceptional levels of hardship to the driver or their dependents. Exceptional hardship is an argument used when a totting up driving ban will cause a level of inconvenience to a person, or those close to them, beyond what is deemed appropriate. This is a legal argument which needs to be submitted to the court with the aim of reducing or avoiding a disqualification from driving.

Arguments for exceptional hardship

Exceptional hardship arguments are usually split into emotional or financial hardship and can focus on any of the following:

  • A driving ban will result in you, your employees, or your dependents losing their jobs;

  • A driving ban will cause you to struggle to care for a vulnerable or elderly family member or friend;

  • You are a carer and a driving ban will remove your access to the hospital;

  • You are active within the community or a charity and a driving ban will stop you being able to provide essential services to the community;

  • A driving ban would cause damage to your health.

It’s worth noting that these arguments alone will not quash a totting up ban. You’ll need to be able to demonstrate the financial or emotional hardship a ban will cause you or your family. It is also worth noting loss of employment does not automatically amount to exceptional hardship.

When can you not argue exceptional hardship?

In cases of disqualification due to drink driving, you cannot argue exceptional hardship. The only argument for avoiding a ban due to drink driving is ‘special reasons’. The volume of alcohol found in your body will be taken into consideration alongside this by the court.

If you’re a new driver who’s only had their licence for two years or less, and you accumulate six points or more, you will automatically have your driving licence taken away and you will have to retake a theory and a practical driving test. There is no option to argue exceptional hardship in this case.

If you’re facing a totting up disqualification, it’s vital you seek advice from a driving offences solicitor at the earliest opportunity in order to understand your position and next steps. To speak to a specialist at Farleys, please call 0845 287 0939 or contact us by email.