What is an obligatory disqualification ?
It is when the court must disqualify someone from driving for a motoring offence for at least the prescribed minimum period of time.
What are examples of offences that carry obligatory disqualification ?
The most common offences are:
- drink driving – 12 months minimum
- drug driving – 12 months minimum
- dangerous driving – 12 months minimum.
How can you avoid an obligatory disqualification ?
The only way to avoid being disqualified is if you have a defence to the matter or if there are ‘special reasons’ not to disqualify you from driving.
What could amount to a defence for an offence carrying obligatory disqualification ?
Drink driving – you were not driving or you were not on a public road
Dangerous driving – your driving did not fall far below the standard of a reasonable and competent driver.
What is a special reason ?
A special reason not to endorse your licence or disqualify you from driving would be a reason that is:
- Not a defence
- Is a mitigating or extenuating factor
- Is directly related to the commission of the offence
- Is a factor that the court ought properly to take into consideration when imposing a sentence.
What could amount to a special reason for an offence that carries an obligatory disqualification ?
This will depend on the actual offence but examples are:
- Drink driving – laced drinks
- Dangerous driving – emergency situation
Who has to prove there is a special reason ?
The onus is on the defence to establish there is a special reason not to disqualify a person from driving or to endorse points on their licence. The standard of proof is on the balance of probabilities i.e it is more likely than not. The defence will normally be required to call evidence to prove the special reason.
If the court find there is a special reason can they still disqualify you or endorse your licence ?
Yes because it simply gives the court a discretion not to disqualify you or endorse your licence.
Can you get an obligatory disqualification and penalty points for the same offence ?
No. The court will impose a disqualification or penalty points.They court cannot impose both for the same offence.
Can you appeal against the length of disqualification imposed by the court ?
Yes. The appeal will be heard in the Crown Court by a Judge and two magistrates.
Are there any risks involved in appealing ?
Yes. The Judge could increase the original sentence if you lose the appeal and order you to pay additional costs. Even if you win the appeal the Judge could order you to pay additional costs though this is unlikely.
Why would you need a solicitor ?
- To advise you whether you have a defence to the offence
- Indicate whether there are special reasons
- Advise you whether you are at risk of an obligatory disqualification
- Advise you whether you at risk of penalty points
- Tell you what supporting documents you need
- Consider those documents to ensure they are appropriate
- To write a letter to the court on your behalf
- Represent you in court
- Try and keep the length of disqualification to a minimum
- Assist you in appealing the Magistrates Court decision
- Apply for any disqualification to be suspended pending appeal
- To deal with the appeal in the Crown Court.