Broadly speaking, we can defend your licence by relying on special reasons and exceptional hardship. If accepted by the court, this can be the difference between an immediate driving ban, or penalty points that take you over the 12-point limit, and escaping the driving ban.
The High Court of Northern Ireland defined special reasons in 1939 and Lord Goddard approved the definition for use in the English courts in 1946. So, a special reason is defined as being:
“A mitigating or extenuating circumstance, not amounting in law to a defence to the charge, yet directly connected with the commission of the offence.”
The Court of Appeal in 1958 added a final point that the special reason needs to be something that the court should properly take into consideration when imposing sentence. This is helpful because it tells us what extenuating circumstances will not be acceptable, e.g. I was drink driving because it was a friends birthday party. The fact of the birthday part is not a defence but is directly connected with the commission of the offence. However, it fails as a special reason because it is not something that the court should properly consider when passing sentence.
The fact that a driver was only just over the drink driving limit will not amount to a special reason. This was made clear by Lord Parker in a 1969 case and in 1974, Lord Widgery, said:
“I would not accept the proposition that [a drunk driver] can be excused endorsement of his licence on the basis of special reasons merely because it was not a bad case”
Numerous courts have agreed with Lords Parker and Widgery in the years since those cases were decided.
All driving bans will cause hardship, in a way that is partly the point of a driving ban. However, where the hardship caused by the driving ban is more than is normally suffered you can rely on exceptional hardship escape the driving ban. However, the bar for exceptional hardship is very high and such claims are very difficult for Judges to accept.
The best exceptional hardship claims will involve hardship caused to somebody else rather than to you. For example:
- Loss of employment
- Harm to employer/employees
- Caring for others
These are examples only. Feel free to give us a call now on 020 7488 3029 to discuss your options.