Avoiding Driving Bans & Totting up of Penalty Points & Exceptional Hardship

s.35 of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988  states that a person who accumulates 12 penalty points or more within a three year period must be disqualified from driving for a minimum period of six months.  This referred to as the totting up of penalty points or just "totting". Therefore you should not be offended if you hear yourself referred to as a "totter" in court!

On the serious side, being disqualified for months can have catastrophic consequences for many people. They may rely on their licence for their job, to pay their mortgage and rent, and have a family to support.  They may have other people such as elderly or disabled relatives who rely on them for transport and/or care.  They may run a business and their inability to drive would mean that their employees would lose their jobs or have to take a pay cut.

Depending on the severity of the circumstances, it may be possible to put forward what is known as an Exceptional Hardship argument to try and avoid the disqualification. Only if the court accepts the argument will it have power to exercise its discretion.

We have represented countless motorists and drivers who have found themselves in this position and have successfully avoided a driving ban or reduced the ban on appeal for them.

We will advise you at the outset in a free ten minute telephone consultation as to the prospects of success of your case so that you can make an informed decision whether to spend the money on having us represent you. We pride ourselves on giving honest advice and if there are doubts about the strength of your case, we will tell you.

That said, with our experience, should you choose to represent us, we’ll do our utmost to ensure your case is the strongest it can possibly be to ensure the best possible outcome for you. We’ll ensure you’re fully prepared for the court hearing so you know what to expect.

A driving ban as a result of reaching twelve or more points is supposed to cost a driver money, and cause inconvenience. After all it is meant to be a punishment. Therefore the court will only find exceptional hardship when the consequences are something 'out of the ordinary'. Loss of a job is not usually enough in itself, but the consequences of losing your livelihood may well be.

If you need representation in Nottingham, Derby, Leicester or anywhere else, please get in touch. We don't charge for the initial call, and you'll find we're cheaper than most other motoring solicitors.

The court may decide to do one of the following:

  • Impose the penalty points but not disqualify you
  • Disqualify you for a shorter period than the usual minimum of 6 months
  • Still disqualify you for 6 months

Yes, if you receive a ban as a result of totting up, then no matter what the length of the ban, when it expires you will have a clean licence for the purpose of totting up. Please note that you will still need to declare the convictions to your insurance company.

You can only put forward one successful Exceptional Hardship argument on any particular grounds once every three years. You can, however, put forward a second argument on different grounds.

No, as the points are relevant for three years from the date of the offence. The number of relevant points are those as at the time of the current offence, not the conviction or court hearing date.

This is to prevent people from being able to manipulate the system by deliberately delaying their court hearing to avoid a driving ban.

The minimum period of disqualification for the totting up of points is six months, but the court must increase the disqualification to one year if you have been previously disqualified for 56 days or more within the last three years.

If there are two such orders of disqualification the period is two years.

However, if you are convicted on the same occasion of more than one offence, the court can still only impose one driving ban for totting up.

Presenting an exceptional hardship argument involves the driver giving evidence on oath about the consequences a ban would have in order to persuade the court that it would result in Exceptional Hardship to themselves and/or others.

Often it will be necessary to provide certain documentary evidence to support that assertion and it is important you know what to take with you. Obviously, we can advise you on this whether you want us to represent you at court or not.

Yes, you can appeal against a finding by the magistrates that would be no exceptional hardship, but it's better to get it right the first time. It'll be cheaper and far less stressful for you if you do.

If you want to appeal, this will be to the Crown Court which is a higher court. Although essentially you effectively get a new hearing of your case, the Crown Court is slow to interfere with Magistrates' decisions unless they are clearly wrong. See more about appeals here.