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Exceptional Hardship

Should a driver amass 12 points within a three year period, they face a 6 month “totting up” disqualification from driving.

It is sometimes possible to avoid the 6 months disqualification under the Totting Up Provisions by arguing that such a disqualification would cause the driver exceptional hardship.

The key word here is “exceptional” and Exceptional Hardship means that you would face greater hardship than would normally be faced when being disqualified from driving. Whilst this is not defined by law it is commonly understood as something more than ordinary or expected. Simply being inconvenienced is certainly not sufficient and the case often turns on the facts of the individual driver, their personal circumstances such as work, family, dependents etc.

A common argument is the loss of employment, however, the court will need to be satisfied that the job is realistically at risk and thereafter the court will need to assess the consequences such as an inability to support a family. Exceptional Hardship will often come down to financial concerns but in most cases, this is not the only relevant factor.

Exceptional Hardship is not a simple exercise and a person’s circumstances must be carefully considered and any argument must be meticulously prepared in order to have the best prospects of avoiding a lengthy disqualification.

Furthermore, this is a two-stage process. Firstly, the Court must be convinced that exceptional hardship does exist before then being asked to exercise their discretion not to enforce the 6 months disqualification period at all or to enforce a lesser disqualification period.

A further consideration is that Exceptional Hardship can only be argued once within a 3 year period and if successful will leave the driver with the point on their licence. If that person reaches 12 or more points again within the 3 years following then they cannot argue Exceptional Hardship unless their circumstances have changed.

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