If you have accumulated 12 points - or you are likely to accumulate 12 points due to the points to be added for a new matter - you are at risk of being disqualified from driving. The provisions arise from Section 35 of the Road Traffic Act which states that if you accumulate 12 points you must be disqualified for a minimum period of 6 months.
However, this is not the end of the story. If the disqualification from driving would cause you (or preferably a third party) exceptional hardship, then you can make an application to the court that you ought not be disqualified from driving - irrespective of the 12 points. This is known as an application for exceptional hardship.
If the application is successful, you will not be disqualified from driving. The 12 points will remain on your licence - but you will still be able to drive.
If the application in the Magistrates Court is unsuccessful, it is possible to appeal to the Crown Court against the decision in the lower Court.
What does and does not amount to exceptional hardship is entirely a matter for the discretion of the Court. However, there are some principles that arise:
(1) Loss of livelihood might not be sufficient to amount to exceptional hardship. However, it depends on the circumstances of the case and there are some situations where loss of livelihood alone would amount to exceptional hardship.
(2) Where Third parties are likely to be affected (relatives, employees etc), the Court are more likely to find exceptional hardship
(3) Where the defendant can afford to employ a driver or make alternative arrangements to driving which are easy to facilitate (for any reason), a successful application for exceptional hardship is unlikely to follow.
(4) In order to establish exceptional hardship it is preferable to gather as much empirical evidence as possible - so as to demonstrate the exceptional hardship the Court in paper form (witness statements, accounts, public transport routes and times, medical evidence).
(5) If you make a successful application for exceptional hardship, you cannot make the same application within three years.
Coral Fitzgerald has made many successful applications for exceptional hardship. If you want to discuss this issue further, contact her on 07790 356069.
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