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Special Reasons – Failure To Provide A Specimen

April 2nd, 2014 by Just Motor Law

At Just Motor Law we often speak to drivers who have been charged with failing to provide a specimen who inform us that they didn’t cooperate with the police because they hadn’t been driving nor had they been intending to drive.

This does not provide them with a defence for not providing a specimen of breath, urine or blood. As long as the police officer made the arrest in good faith because he believed that an offence of drink driving or being drunk in charge had taken place, it doesn’t matter that the police were mistaken about whether you had actually been driving.

The law still penalises you if you do not provide the sample when requested. If the failure to provide a sample follows an arrest for being in charge of a vehicle then the court can sentence you to either 10 points or a discretionary disqualification. If the failure to provide a specimen follows an arrest for an allegation of drink driving (driving with excess alcohol), then after a guilty plea, the court have a power of mandatory disqualification from driving for a minimum of 12 months.

Does this seem grossly unfair if you were actually not driving nor was there any likelihood of you driving while over the legal limit? Unfortunately, there is no defence in such circumstances! However, our legal system generally does have the scope to deal with potential iniquities. This is where this particular special reasons argument comes in.

A special reason is in general terms, ‘a mitigating or extenuating factor, which relates to the circumstances of the offence, that a court should properly take account of when sentencing’. It cannot provide a defence of course, so in our situation the circumstances do not provide a defence in law. The fact that you were not driving or not attempting to or likely to drive can be taken on board by the court at the point of sentence. If the court accepts your argument, then it can decide not to disqualify you from driving or decide not to endorse penalty points on your licence.

This particular thread of special reasons argument was established in two cases in the High Court in the 1980’s and is one that the courts are generally unfamiliar with. Indeed, this is an argument that many solicitors are unfamiliar with! At Just Motor Law it’s always extremely rewarding to root out obscure case law that can make all the difference in a case.

Just Motor Law is experienced in winning cases of this kind and should you find yourself in a similar predicament then our team of experts will be happy to advise you on your options. It is important that you are not prejudiced by the magistrates being unaware of this little known special reasons argument that could actually save your driving licence.

Arguing Exceptional Hardship To Avoid A Totting Up Ban

March 31st, 2014 by Natali Farrell

Exceptional hardship is a legal argument used when a motorist incurs 12 or more penalty points on their driving licence. 12 or more points on a driving licence results in the motorist being disqualified from driving for a minimum of 6 months and so a successful exceptional hardship argument avoids the disqualification altogether or significantly reduces the period.

There are no set reasons on what exceptional hardship actually is and so every case is considered on its own merits.

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The reasons used to make the legal argument need to be something out of the ordinary and often something which results in other people being affected rather than just the motorist themselves.

Examples of reasons used in court might be cases when you need your licence for your employment, you care for an elderly or disabled relative that depends on you to get them around or you are disabled yourself and need your licence to get yourself around, the list goes on.

The most often argued reason would be loss of livelihood in situations when the motorist would lose their employment or business if they were to lose their driving licence. This said, loss of livelihood does not automatically guarantee a successful exceptional hardship argument!

To be successful in arguing loss of livelihood for exceptional hardship you need to be able to show that loss of your employment or business will impact on others as a result. For example, if you are a self-employed plumber who needs your driving licence to travel to your jobs; the loss of your driving licence would mean you could no longer earn a living. This reason alone would not be sufficient to argue exceptional hardship although if losing your licence means you have no income you would then be unable to provide for your family or pay your rent or mortgage, the argument is likely to be more successful.

You should not assume that you have exceptional hardship simply because loss of your licence would be a massive inconvenience as for most of us it would be an inconvenience. Exceptional hardship is a complex legal argument that needs to be carefully prepared and submitted in such a way to the court that only a specialist lawyer could do.

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Every single case is different to the next and so when a motorist finds themselves in such an unfortunate position they should immediately discuss their case with a specialist motoring lawyer. The lawyer would then assess the situation and advise on whether it is an argument that can be run with. You may have a good case but speak to the experts first!

Drink Driving Awareness from Sixt

March 31st, 2014 by admin

Driving under the influence of alcohol continues to be a huge concern in the UK. While collision statistics tend to fluctuate year-on-year, it’s fair to say that there are always campaigns running to raise awareness of the dangers  to try and reduce the amount of people who are getting behind the wheel after drinking alcohol.

This video from Sixt car hire does just that, but takes a new approach to spreading the message.

A Message that Resonates



‘Cocktail for Disaster’ uses a style that creates a memorable and hard-hitting message.

Using familiar cocktail names to introduce several characters and elements in the piece, this video makes a sudden transition between being seemingly cool and stylish, to showing the tragedy and emotional torment easily caused by drink driving.

A Tragic Tale

‘Cocktail for Disaster’ portrays the tragedy of a man that makes a poor decision, and as a consequence leaves a trail of devastation in his wake.

The key message for the viewer is that it is impossible to determine the specific amount of alcohol it will take to put someone over the legal limit. The best approach to keeping yourself and others safe on the road is to not drink any alcohol at all.

Help spread awareness of the dangers of drink driving and share this thought-provoking video with friends and family.

If you have been accused of a drink driving offence and require some professional help, get in touch with one of our experts using our contact form at the top of this page.

Exceptional Hardship Explained

March 28th, 2014 by Natali Farrell

Exceptional hardship is a legal argument that can be submitted to the court to avoid a disqualification from driving when a driver accumulates 12 or more penalty points on their driving licences.

Legislation stipulates that if a driver does acquire 12 or more penalty points they should be disqualified from driving for a minimum period of 6 months.
Under these provisions exceptional hardship can be argued, which if successful can result in a reduction of the 6 month disqualification or no disqualification at all.

Defining the word ‘exceptional’ is vital to any case, as just simply pleading ‘hardship’ would not be enough. Most people will suffer some kind of hardship when losing their driving licence although this is the aim of the legislation. What is not the aim of the legislation is when ‘exceptional hardship’ would be caused.

What circumstance are deemed to be considered ‘exceptional’?

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To be exceptional, the hardship to be suffered must be something out of the ordinary. For example, in the case of Brennan v McKay (1996) a taxi driver accumulated 12 points and argued that if he were to lose his licence he may lose his job and suffer financial difficulty. Although the court accepted the fact that the taxi driver would suffer hardship, they did not accept that the hardship would be exceptional and he was still disqualified for 6 months.

However, had the driver been able to prove is was the sole financial provider to his family and if he were to be disqualified it would have an effect on his mortgage repayments and risk losing his home, meaning his family would suffer from the consequences then the case would have been deemed exceptional by the Court.

The distinction between ‘hardship’ and ‘exceptional hardship’ is very important and one which needs to be determined well in advance of submitting any argument to the court by a motoring legal expert.

How do I know if my case is exceptional?

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As there is no set list of what is exceptional, the lawyer at court can argue whatever case they wish in an effort to persuade the Magistrates that the hardship to be suffered would be exceptional and it will be for the Magistrates Court to assess every case on its own merits.

This said, if not just you but others around you and who depend on you either financially or to assist them in getting around would be affected by the disqualification, this may be good starting point.

The lawyer representing at court would prepare and present the case in such a way as to show that exceptional hardship would in fact be caused. It would then be for the Magistrates to make their decision.

What would happen next?

Anybody who would be affected by a disqualification should consult a specialist lawyer to see whether they have any grounds to argue exceptional hardship. This can be a complex area of law and one where a driver has one opportunity to make their case. To ensure your case is professionally prepared from the outset to give you the very best possible chance of being successful, always contact a specialist motoring expert.

What To Do If You Are Facing A Driving Licence Ban

March 24th, 2014 by Natali Farrell

A driving ban arises as a result of motorists being convicted of a driving offence and varies in terms of length depending on the severity. A ban can be imposed via two avenues as follows:

  • Serious offence such as speeding where the speed is significantly high which attracts a disqualification due to the seriousness of the offence; or
  • In cases where a person receives points on their driving licence, which in turn equates to 12 points

When people find themselves in one of these situations it is important to explore the options available in an effort to establish what they need to do as attending court for most will be unfamiliar experience.

If you find yourself in the situation of facing a driving ban, consider the following three step process.

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Step 1

Establish why you are being disqualified. Is it as a result of accumulating 12 points or is it because the offence is so serious the court will first consider a disqualification?

The best way to establish this is to review the Magistrates Court Sentencing Guidelines for the offence in question. These guidelines are provided in a simple and comprehensive table format which outline each offence and the likely penalty.

If the penalty is accumulation of points you will need to check whether the amount of points to be imposed would take you to 12 or more points in total with any existing points on your licence.

If the penalty is a period of disqualification or penalty points, you may be able to avoid the disqualification.

Step 2

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If you are looking at a ban, whatever the avenue has taken you there, you need to consider whether your day-to-day life will be affected in the absence of your licence.

If the answer is yes then you need to find a specialist motoring lawyer to help prepare your case. There are ways of avoiding a ban altogether or reducing the period although in order to be successful in doing this, your case will need to be carefully prepared and presented to the court.

Step 3

Once you have established that your case requires a specialist motoring lawyer they will consider all your circumstances in great detail and prepare your case for court. They will also advise you on the strengths of your case and on how best to argue your case. Advice on what information and documentation you will need to obtain in order to help your case would also be provided.

Are You Still Tailgating?

March 21st, 2014 by Just Motor Law

In May 2013, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin announced new penalties for careless and inconsiderate driving. The changes were implemented to give the power to the police to issue fixed penalty notices for careless and inconsiderate driving, giving them more options for dealing with less serious driving offences like tailgating or middle lane hogging.

The implication was that the police would be more likely to tackle less serious incidents of bad driving if they didn’t have to go through the time intensive process of instituting court proceedings. This also meant that the police could also offer the safe driving courses as an alternative to penalty points and a fine. It only took a cursory reading of online forums to discover that many drivers considered that the changes were motivated by money making and just another example of the state cracking down further on our personal freedoms.

However, Department for Transport figures had indicated that careless, reckless or hurried driving had been recorded as a contributory factor in nearly 1/5 of all road traffic accidents and a failure to keep a proper look out was the most-reported contributory factor. It would appear entirely reasonable that the government had to do something to try and deal with poor driving and its consequences. Remember the  people who decried the introduction of compulsory wearing of seatbelts? 30 years on from the introduction of the seatbelt laws and vehicle deaths are at an all time low. In our view this is no coincidence and cannot be explained simply by the advances of vehicle safety technology, given that there are now 19 million more vehicles on the road than when the seatbelt laws came in.

At Just Motor Law we accept that laws, regulations and police powers (when used correctly!) are necessary to protect us all as we venture onto Britain’s roads.  If you believe you have done nothing wrong then you can reject the fixed penalty and still have your day in court and we will be happy to advise you on your options if you find yourself in that position.

It’s now 8 months since the police were given those new powers and Just Motor Law understand that over 5000 drivers have been dealt with by way of the new fixed penalties or driving improvement courses. We hope that in due course this will have an impact on accident rates but only time will tell. We are particularly pleased that more drivers are being offered courses in lieu of points, following incidents of careless or inconsiderate driving. This will hopefully achieve two outcomes – firstly, a reduction in the perception that motoring laws are all about making money for the state through fixed penalties – an unhelpful perception as it takes the focus away from concentrating on the real importance of safe driving. Secondly, that drivers who undertake these courses will come away as considerate, careful, sociable road users that are less likely to contribute to accidents.

Show consideration for other drivers on the roads as you do as a pedestrian and keep your distance, as a minute of impatience behind the wheel could cost you your licence!

Can You Win An Exceptional Hardship Argument?

March 21st, 2014 by Natali Farrell

Recent research conducted by Direct Line (Insurance Company) and Brake (Road Safety Charity), revealed that almost 50 per cent of motorists who accumulate 12 points on their licence escape a driving ban after pleading exceptional hardship in court.

At the time of research there were 10,072 motorists in the UK with 12 points or more who had not lost their licences and were continuing to drive. An additional 13,499 motorists, also with 12 points or more, had been banned and in the correct circumstances a plea of exceptional hardship can be won .

  • However, there is a world of difference between “hardship” and “exceptional hardship” by the Courts definitions.

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What are the grounds for an Exceptional Hardship argument?

If you want the Court to allow you to keep your licence you will need to prove that the hardship you would suffer in losing it is extraordinary in that it would have a negative impact on your day-to-day life significantly such as inability to get to work or unable to fulfil any care responsibilities. In the absence of such proof a disqualification may still be given. One recent case, involving a taxi driver who had been convicted of speeding and had accumulated 12 points on his licence, argued the fact that if he lost his licence it was likely he would lose his job and suffer difficulty with his finances.

Whilst it was accepted by the Court that he would suffer hardship, such hardship was not deemed to be exceptional and the Court and imposed a mandatory disqualification.

However, had the taxi driver submitted that as a result of losing his job, he would not be able to meet his mortgage payments, face bankruptcy and be unable to drive his elderly mother to hospital on a regular basis, the outcome may have been quite different. The Courts are reluctant to impose a driving ban when there is a real possibility that it will impact adversely on other people. An exceptional hardship argument can be won or lost on the basis of this important factor.

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What is the procedure for making an Exceptional Hardship argument?

The procedure for making an exceptional hardship argument would involve the court first being notified that such an argument was to be made and then an advocate would be expected to present the evidence in support of the argument in their submissions. The defendant is then asked on oath to confirm the truth of those submissions. Should the prosecution desire, the defendant can be cross examined by the Crown.

No matter the scenario, the presentation of comprehensive evidence of exceptional hardship is vitally important.

What are the potential outcomes?

  • If the court finds exceptional hardship they can either reduce the mandatory disqualification or not impose one at all. However, the defendant should be made aware that for the next 3 years the same successful grounds of the argument cannot be presented to the Court again.
  • If the court does not find exceptional hardship then the minimum mandatory disqualification of 6 months will be imposed. At the end of the disqualification period the penalty points which led to the ban being imposed will be removed from the driving licence and be returned clean of any penalty points.

You should instruct a specialist motoring offence solicitor from the outset who will be able to advise on whether there is any circumstances on which you could base an argument of exceptional hardship and potentially protect your licence.

At Just Motor Law, we have vast expertise of helping our clients keep their driving licence. If you are facing a ban and your day-to-day life will suffer as a result, contact us today on 0845 485 1228 or use our contact form – let us help you to stay on the road.

Avoiding A Driving Ban By Arguing Exceptional Hardship

March 17th, 2014 by Natali Farrell

In the UK thousands of drivers are prosecuted for road traffic offences each year and for many it is their first and only experience of criminal law. Most find the diverse provisions of the criminal justice system bewildering and its principles confusing.

A significant number of prosecutions will result in defendants accumulating points on their driving licenses which vary depending on the offence committed; and if the total points accumulated reach 12 there is a mandatory ban of 6 months. However, there is provision in the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 for such a ban, at the discretion of the Court, not to be applied or to be reduced if the defendant can prove that a disqualification would cause exceptional hardship.

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Proving exceptional hardship is not straightforward

A common misconception exists among people facing a possible driving ban, that merely suggesting a disqualification would cause exceptional hardship is sufficient for a court to be lenient which is not the case. Presenting a successful case of exceptional hardship requires the services of a specialist motoring offence solicitor if a convincing case for not imposing a driving ban is going to be presented to the court.

It is the obligation of the defendant to demonstrate to the court why a driving ban should not be imposed. The Court will allow time for the motorist to explain why a disqualification would cause exceptional hardship.

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What is Exceptional Hardship?

There is no precise definition in law since exceptional hardship depends on the specific circumstances of individual defendants but in order to avoid a driving ban the court will have to be convinced that the defendant will suffer more than would normally be expected through the loss of a driving license. The courts are well aware that when motorists lose their licenses a certain amount of hardship will ensue, indeed this forms part of the punishment for the offence so loss of employment as the sole mitigation is unlikely to impress the court. However, loss of the employment together with the implications of it may be considered exceptional hardship if for example, a driving disqualification that caused the motorist to lose his or her job. This would inevitably lead to mortgage debt or an inability to pay the rent, thereby rendering the family of the motorist homeless; or the motorist was an irreplaceable employee for the company he or she works for and it would cause the employer extreme difficulty and possible damage to the business if the motorist sustained a driving disqualification. In essence, the court is likely to be more lenient if the loss of a licence is going to adversely affect other people rather than just the motorist.

An experienced motoring offence advocate will be able to present the individual “exceptional” circumstances of the defendant in such a way as to convince a court to use its discretionary powers to impose an alternative punishment rather than impose a disqualification. The court will then consider the case together with the overall effect that losing the driving licence will have. This could result in the motorist accruing 12 points on the licence and a hefty fine but no disqualification.

At Just Motor Law, we have vast expertise of helping our clients keep their driving licence. If you are facing a ban and your day-to-day life will suffer as a result, contact us today on 0845 485 1228 or use our contact form – let us help you to stay on the road.

Learn More About The Totting Up Procedure

March 10th, 2014 by Natali Farrell

What does “totting up” actually mean?

If a driver accumulates 12 or more penalty points on their driving licence this is often referred to as ‘totting up’. If your licence has exceeded 12 points it will result in the court disqualifying that person from driving for a minimum period of 6 months up to a maximum of 12 months.

How will it affect you?

A disqualification from driving will affect most people as after all, we have learnt to drive to make our lives easier! We drive to work, to the shops, to take the children to school, all everyday tasks that lots of people do as part of their daily lives. If you were to ask yourself the question of what would happen if you were no longer able to drive, what would your answer be?

The answer in short would be that your life would be made so much more difficult to manage.

Consider how it would affect your commute to work if driving wasn’t an option. How would you get to work? Maybe a train and then a bus or a taxi to the office? Both Public transport and/or taxis can be costly and would take a much bigger proportion of time off your day as opposed to if you were to have driven. What about if you have children who you drive to school? Is it close enough for you to walk?

These are just a couple of examples of obstacles you could face if you were to be disqualified from driving.

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How can “totting up” be avoided? In an ideal world the answer to this would be do not commit any motoring offences and you will not then have your driving licence endorsed with any penalty points.

In reality however, rarely do people intentionally commit a motoring offence, they simply happen for a variety of reasons including rushing, not concentrating properly or driving in an area you’re unfamiliar with.

One might get 3 points for marginally exceeding the speed limit in one year then another the year after which equates to 6 points. In the third year you may have missed a monthly payment to your insurance company due to insufficient funds being in your account and your insurance provider cancels your policy. You are then stopped by the police for no insurance and get 6 penalty points on your license, finding yourself with 12 points on your license

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What will happen if the penalty points can’t be avoided? If you do find yourself in the position of having 12 points on your license, your case would be heard by the Magistrates Court who would consider a punishment of disqualification for at least 6 months.

However, if imposing the disqualification would cause hardship beyond what the legislation intended, you can argue ‘exceptional hardship’. A usual example of an exceptional hardship case would be in circumstances when it can be proved that other people would be affected by your loss of license such as any care responsibilities you have for an elderly or ill relative or family members. A successful argument would result in the 12 points remaining on your license although no disqualification would be imposed.

Exceptional hardship is not easy to plead although with a carefully thought out and prepared case by a specialist lawyer, you would be putting yourself in the best possible position to avoid the disqualification.

At Just Motor Law, we have vast expertise of helping our clients keep their driving licence. If you are facing a ban and your day-to-day life will suffer as a result, contact us today on 0845 485 1228 or use our contact form – let us help you to stay on the road.

Racking up 12 points doesn’t always signal a driving ban…but why?

March 3rd, 2014 by Just Motor Law

Clocking up 12 penalty points through speeding and other motoring offences usually means a minimum six-month driving ban.

According to latest figures released by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) courts are showing leniency towards thousands of motorists who rely on their driving licence for their living such as sales representatives, rural workers, long distance commuters or HGV drivers, taxi drivers and couriers.

In November 2013 there were 7,293 UK drivers with 12 points or more who avoided what would otherwise have been a six-month disqualification – 84% were male drivers.

A 43-year-old man from south Liverpool is still permitted to drive despite clocking up 45 penalty points – almost four times the usual driving ban threshold.

The second highest tally is 36 points by a 58-year-old male driver from Warrington.

The data reveals 2,317 motorists have even more points than the traditional ‘automatic ban’ threshold, including 1,183 on 15 points or more.

Analysis reveals that 1,183 motorists with a valid licence have 15 points or more, and 18 motorists with a valid licence have 25 points or more.

The vast majority of the exceptions are on the 12-point limit – 4,976 in total – indicating that magistrates are being swayed by a defendant’s solicitor arguing that disqualification would cause exceptional hardship.

Magistrates can use discretion to not enforce driving disqualification if it will cause exceptional hardship.

Losing your job and potentially penalising family members as a result fits into this category.

Other examples might be a child being deprived of contact with a divorced parent, a disabled or infirm dependent who requires regular transport or a business owner or employer who will suffer disproportionate additional expense from having to pay for extra staff.

In some circumstances, a court will not impose a ban if a business will be significantly affected by a key member of staff being banned.

Simply being inconvenienced by having to get a bus to work or walking the kids to school, however, probably would not persuade a magistrate to make an exception.

Some critics say solicitors are exploiting a ‘loophole’ – but this is not the case.

We are not bending or abusing the law, we are using it in a perfectly properly way in the best interest of clients.

The driver is not ‘getting off’ with breaking the law, they are being dealt with in a different but fair way.

Of course, those that depend on their driving licence to earn a living need to take extra care to protect their licences, rather than rely on either the expertise of motor law specialists or the discretion of magistrates.

At Just Motor Law, we have vast expertise of helping our clients keep their driving licence. If you are facing a ban and your day-to-day life will suffer as a result, contact us today on 0845 485 1228 or use our contact form – let us help you to stay on the road.