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Totting Up & Exceptional Hardship Explained

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At Emery Johnson Astills one of the most frequently asked questions we receive is regarding the totting up procedure.

We are aware that the risk of losing your licence can have a profound impact on your life. You may use your vehicle daily, driving to work, taking your children to school and going to the shops. Without it would cause you all types of difficulties. If you accrue (“tot up”) 12 penalty points on your licence within 3 years you will be disqualified from driving unless you can persuade the Court that to do so would cause you exceptional hardship.

What is “totting up”?

You can accrue penalty points for a whole host of driving offences, for example; driving with defective brakes, speeding and using a mobile phone whilst driving. If you admit the allegation your licence is endorsed with points and those points are live for 3 years.

If you accrue 12 points during the three year period you become what is known as a “totter” and will be summonsed to court for them to consider disqualifying you for a minimum period of 6 months. The minimum period may be automatically increased if you have been disqualified within the preceding three years.

How do I avoid being disqualified?

You may have seen in the media celebrities that have faced being disqualified only to be given a further chance by the Court and thought how did that happen? In those cases, it is almost certain that they have made a submission of Exceptional Hardship.

What is Exceptional Hardship?

Exceptional Hardship submissions are made where individuals face disqualification as a result of becoming a “totter” and therefore argue that any disqualification would cause them Exceptional Hardship. Exceptional Hardship is not available for serious driving matters including drink/drug driving as the Courts are obliged to disqualify in these cases.

There is no legal definition for Exceptional Hardship, however, hardship must be beyond what would be reasonably foreseeable. The hardship must be something out of the ordinary.

The Court will need to know what the impact a driving disqualification will have on you, your family and your employment. The Court will not be satisfied that a mere inconvenience is sufficient to avoid a disqualification.

Hardship can be caused to a family if the individual were to lose their job and as a result the mortgage or rent could not be paid. It could be caused to children who are dependent on a parent taking them to school or to extra-curricular activities. Hardship could be caused to an elderly relative or neighbour who is reliant on an individual to take them to hospital appointments or to employees who find themselves out of work as a result of their employer losing their licence.

It is important to provide as much information as possible regarding your circumstances, as even if you think it may not make a difference, it could.

If Exceptional Hardship has not been found in the Magistrates Court there is the opportunity to pursue the application before the Crown Court. A disqualification imposed by the Magistrates Court can be suspended subject to representations, pending the appeal hearing at the Crown Court.

Why choose us?

Each case is decided on its own merits and therefore it is vital that you obtain legal advice if you face disqualification. Our team at Emery Johnson Astills will be able to advise you on the merits of your case and prepare an effective argument on your behalf. We regularly make successful Exceptional Hardship arguments on behalf of our clients; meaning that they retain their licence.

For further information and advice in relation to motoring offences please contact the criminal defence team in Leicester on 0116 2554855, or in Loughborough on 01509 610312.