Exceptional Hardship Applications: What they are & when to use them
This article will explore Exceptional Hardship Applications and explain what they are and when they can / should be used.
We will also show an example from one of our previous cases of a Exceptional Hardship Application in use to successfully avoid a driving ban.
What is the purpose of an exceptional hardship argument?
When a motorist accumulates 12 or more penalty points within a three year period, they are liable to a driving disqualification of a minimum of 6 months, this is also known as a totting up driving disqualification. This legislation can be found within s.35 Road Traffic Offenders Act (RTOA) 1988.
This three year period is relevant from the date of the first offence to the date of the last relevant offence. The Court will take into consideration how many points were active on your licence at the time of the relevant offence and not how many active points you have on your licence when you attend Court.
This totting up ban targets “repeat offenders” and prevents motorists from continuously getting out of a disqualification by paying off fines and accepting penalty points.
A motorist can potentially avoid this disqualification if we can convince the Court that the disqualification would result in not just inconvenience but exceptional hardship. An exceptional hardship application must be focussed on how a driving ban would cause hardship to those around you that depend upon you and your driving licence for example, family members or staff members/colleagues.
If you do not put forward an exceptional hardship argument, you are guaranteed a minimum 6 month ban.
What amounts to exceptional hardship?
Examples of exceptional hardship are usually focussed around a motorist’s family and work circumstances such as:
- Inability to get to work without driving leading to loss of job/income resulting in inability to cover household bills and therefore potential loss of accommodation.
- Inability to assist with childcare if you were to be disqualified.
- If you own a business, there is potential hardship to staff members if a driving ban would result in you having to lay staff off.
- Inability to assist close relatives who are dependent upon you and your driving licence, for example with medical appointments/giving physical or general assistance with care.
What does not amount to exceptional hardship?
It is important to note that exceptional hardship applications are mostly focussed on how those that depend upon you and your driving licence would be adversely affected should you be banned for at least 6 months.
Examples that do not amount to exceptional hardship:
- Being unable to go to the gym.
- Being unable to attend social events.
- Travelling to work via public transport is possible but inconvenient.
What happens if I am successful with exceptional hardship?
If the Court decide that a driving ban of at least 6 months would cause exceptional hardship to you and those around you, your licence will be endorsed with the additional penalty points however, you avoid the disqualification and you can continue to drive
An exceptional hardship application can only be put forward once within a 3 year period unless you use completely different reasons/grounds therefore, it is essential that you give yourself the best chance of being successful by instructing expert lawyers.
What happens if I am unsuccessful with exceptional hardship?
If the Court does not believe that a minimum 6 month disqualification would cause exceptional hardship to you and those around you, the Court will disqualify you for a minimum of 6 months. This disqualification will have immediate effect and therefore, it is important you do not drive to Court if you are at risk of a totting up ban.
The totting up disqualification is however, the only disqualification that wipes your licence clean of penalty points therefore, once your ban is over, you will have a clean licence.
What is the process of an exceptional hardship hearing?
It is imperative that an exceptional hardship case is prepared and presented properly by lawyers who are experts in this field in order to give a motorist the best chance of being successful.
Although you will have an experienced barrister presenting your application on your behalf before the Court, you will need to confirm in Court on oath that the circumstances outlined by your barrister are accurate and true.
You will usually need to have supporting letters drafted by those that will be affected by this disqualification for example from your employer, partner or staff members in order to strengthen your application.
Example of a Successful Exceptional Hardship Application
Our client found himself liable to 6 penalty points following a failing to provide driver details charge. He already had 6 points on his licence at the time of the offence which meant a further 6 penalty points would take him to 12 and he would be at risk of a totting up ban.
If our client were to be disqualified, he would have lost his job which would have affected his partner and their living circumstances as he is the ‘breadwinner’. His partner also did not drive and had health conditions which meant she had to have regular medical appointments which the client was responsible of taking her to. Our client also assisted his mother-in-law with general duties and health appointments.
With our expert legal advice and representation in Court, the Magistrates’ found exceptional hardship and did not disqualify our client. Our client left Court with 12 penalty points on his licence however, he could continue to drive.
Do you require legal advice &/or representation?
If you are facing a driving offence prosecution and require expert legal representation at Court, call our lawyers on 0345 222 9955 or complete our Contact Form.