The question I am asked most frequently by my ‘totter’ clients is, ‘will the court disqualify me?’
Loss of driving licence is, for many of us, nothing short of a catastrophe. This point was brought home to me once when I received an email from a client informing me that if she were to be convicted that she would lose her job, that if she lost her job she would lose her home as she would not be able to afford her mortgage, and, that if she lost her home she would lose her custody application for her child. Clearly, the consequences of a driving disqualification can be severe and
Although those committing offences resulting in the endorsement of 12 or more points on their driving licenses for offences committed within 3 years of each other are liable to be disqualified for a minimum period of 6 months this is by no means inevitable. There is a discretion within the court, in certain circumstances, to disqualify for a shorter period or not at all.
How to avoid a disqualification
The law allows a Defendant, or his advocate, to submit that ‘exceptional hardship’ would ensue were the Defendant to be disqualified. If the court finds this to be the case then there is a discretion either not to disqualify at all or to disqualify for a reduced period. Defendants should bear in mind that the onus of proving that ‘exceptional hardship’ would ensue is upon them; as it is a claim made by the defence to mitigate the penalty the burden of proving it is upon the defence. Defendants would be well advised to prepare documentary bundles for the court in support of their contentions as well as to be ready to give evidence on their own behalf. This could well involve being questioned by the court clerk or the prosecutor. Submissions and evidence should, therefore, be meticulously prepared.
What types of
factor are likely to be taken into account?
The courts are mindful of the fact that for a Defendant to find him or herself in such a position she is something of a serial offender. Guidance from reported cases is to the effect that, for example, even loss of a job, on its own, may not amount to exceptional hardship. Why? Simply because many people are at risk of losing their jobs if they lose their licences. In other words, loss of
So, if you, an employee, or, someone you know is a ‘totter’ what should be done? First of
If you are at risk of a driving disqualification you are welcome to contact me for advice.
Sunil Rupasinha (specialist road traffic offence barrister)