Penalty Points (Totting Up) Disqualification
What are penalty points ?
- They are points that may be endorsed on your driving licence for certain motoring offences
- There may be a fixed number of points for the offence or a variable number of points.
What are the most common offences that are endorsable ?
- Speeding – 3 to 6 points
- Failure to give driver details – 6 points
- Driving without due care – 3 to 9 points
- Failure to stop/report an accident – 5 to 10 points
- Using a mobile phone whilst driving – 6 points (increased from 3 points on the 1st March 2017)
- No Insurance – 6 to 8 points
How do the court decide how many points to impose ?
If the offence carries a fixed number of points the court has no discretion. If the offence carries a variable number of points the court will take into account the circumstances of the offence and be guided by the aggravating and mitigating features detailed in the Magistrates Court Sentencing Guidelines.
How many penalty points can you get before you are disqualified from driving ?
If you get 12 or more points within a 3 year period you will be liable to a penalty points/totting up disqualification for a minimum period of 6 months.
Which offences are relevant to calculate the total number of points ?
Any offences committed within 3 years of each other are relevant for totting purposes. It is the date of the offence that is used to calculate the 3 year period.
What will happen if you are a totter ?
You will be required to attend court because you will be facing a disqualification for a minimum period of 6 months.
What happens if you do not attend court ?
The court may issue a warrant for your arrest and they could disqualify you in your absence.
Can the court disqualify you for longer than 6 months ?
Yes they can if you have a previous period of disqualification of 56 days or more within the last 3 years. If you have one previous disqualification then the minimum period of disqualification would be 12 months, if two or more the minimum would be 2 years. The court can impose longer periods.
How can you avoid a penalty point/totting up disqualification ?
By satisfying the court that there are grounds for mitigating the normal consequences of the conviction.
What would amount to grounds to mitigate the normal consequences of the conviction ?
The ground most commonly relied upon is that it would cause you or another person exceptional hardship if you were disqualified from driving. This is more than just hardship or inconvenience because it must be ‘exceptional’ hardship.
What are examples of exceptional hardship ?
- Loss of job
- Loss of business
- Loss of ability to help any person solely reliant on the driver
- Effect upon family members or employees
How do you put the best case forward ?
It is very important to be properly prepared with supporting arguments and documentation. Many people lose their argument because they do not know what the court needs to see, hear or are too nervous to address the court and explain their situation.
What sort of documents should you take to court ?
This will depend on the argument you are putting forward but may include a letter from an employer, a letter from a relative, medical records, a statement from an accountant or a quote from a chauffeur.
Does the driver have to speak in court ?
Yes because evidence has to be given on oath or affirmed in respect of the exceptional hardship argument or the driver will need to confirm everything that has been said by the solicitor on their behalf. The prosecuting solicitor or the court may also ask questions.
How hard is it to prove exceptional hardship ?
Each case depends on its own facts but the court have to be satisfied on the balance of probabilities (more likely than not) that it would cause the driver or another exceptional hardship if they were disqualified from driving. The court are more likely to be sympathetic where a person other than the driver is likely to be caused exceptional hardship.
If the courts find exceptional hardship will they definitely allow you to keep your licence ?
No because the court has a discretion even when it finds exceptional hardship to disqualify you for any period it specifies in court.
If the court find exceptional hardship and do not disqualify you will it wipe the existing points off your licence ?
No they will remain on your licence.
What happens if the court allow you to keep your licence and then you commit another offence ?
You will fall liable to be disqualified under the totting provisions again if you have 12 or more points on your licence and the offences were committed within 3 years of each other.
How many times can you put forward an exceptional hardship argument ?
If you are successful in retaining you licence you cannot put the same argument forward again for 3 years.
Can you appeal if you lose the argument in the Magistrates Court ?
- You can appeal to the Crown Court that is linked to the sentencing Magistrates Court within 21 days of the sentence unless the Judge grants leave to appeal out of time
- You can apply to suspend any disqualification pending an appeal in either the Magistrates Court or the Crown Court
- There would be a rehearing of the matter in front of a Judge and two magistrates
- If you lost you could face a longer disqualification period and be ordered to pay a higher monetary penalty and additional costs
- You could be ordered to pay additional costs even if you win the appeal.
When would you need a solicitor ?
- To advise you on your chances of success
- To 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
- Present the case in court
- Assist you in appealing the Magistrates Court decision
- Apply for any disqualification to be suspended pending the appeal
- Make the application to suspend the disqualification pending the appeal
- To represent you at the appeal hearing in the Crown Court.
Extremely professional and very responsive. Listens well and reassures any concerns and questions you may have. After a long 8 month wait, the outcome was positive thanks to the help of Maria.