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Mitigating Circumstances To Avoid A Driving Ban: Tips From A Motoring Solicitor
Mitigating circumstances are factors that can influence the decision-making process in court, often reducing the severity of the punishment received. This could involve explaining that the offence was out of character, demonstrating remorse, or providing evidence of ‘exceptional hardship’, such as significant disruption to your work or personal life that a ban would cause.
If you are facing a disqualification from driving, which may happen if you have committed a speeding offence which is in the middle or top category and resulted in being classed as a serious offence or are facing a ‘totting up’ disqualification, then you may be wondering if there is any way to avoid a driving disqualification.
If you are facing a dangerous driving disqualification and are looking to plead guilty and present mitigating circumstances to the court as to why you should not be disqualified from driving, then the team at Caddick Davies Solicitors can help.
We are a motoring law specialist firm whose solicitors can give honest advice and guidance to help you to secure the most successful outcome possible when facing driving charges as well as identify and successfully present mitigating circumstances to the court. As we only deal with motoring law cases day in and day out, if you are looking to avoid a driving offence or disqualification then we can help.
Call our expert team today on 0151 944 4967
This article will provide you with a deep dive into these mitigating circumstances, how they can be effectively used in your defence, and how legal experts like Caddick Davies can guide you through the process.
If you have been caught speeding and you have fallen into the middle or top category, then you will be faced with a potential disqualification from driving due to the speed limit or seriousness of the speed itself.
The Magistrates’ sentencing guidelines provides the following:
|Speed Limit (mph)||Top Category (mph)||Middle Category (mph)||Lowest Category (mph)||Potential Penalties|
|20||41 and above||31 – 40||21 – 30||Disqualification of 7 – 56 days or 6 penalty points|
|30||51 and above||41 – 50||31 – 40||Disqualification of 7 – 28 days or 4 – 6 penalty points|
|40||66 and above||56 – 65||41 – 55||Disqualification of 7 – 28 days or 4 – 6 penalty points|
|50||76 and above||66 – 75||51 – 65||Disqualification of 7 – 28 days or 4 – 6 penalty points|
|60||91 and above||81 – 90||61 – 80||Disqualification of 7 – 28 days or 4 – 6 penalty points|
|70||101 and above||91 – 100||71 – 90||Disqualification of 7 – 56 days or 6 penalty points|
If you have been charged with an offence of driving without due care and attention, then you may be wondering when this warrants a discretionary disqualification. Where an offence of driving without due care and attention is deemed to indicate higher harm and higher culpability to other road users then this will warrant a discretionary disqualification.
The Magistrates’ sentencing guidelines provide the following endorsement/imposition:
|Level of seriousness||Disqualification / points|
|Category 1||Consider disqualification OR 7 – 9 points|
|Category 2||5 – 6 penalty points|
|Category 3||3 – 4 penalty points|
The Magistrates’ sentencing guidelines provides that factors indicating greater harm include:
The Magistrates’ sentencing guidelines provides that factors indicating higher culpability:
If you find that you have a factor present from both categories then this would indicate that your offence falls into category one and as a result you are facing a discretionary disqualification.
The court have discretionary powers to disqualify, the Magistrates will take into consideration mitigating and aggravating features when looking at the period of disqualification they intend to impose.
Understandably if you are faced with a driving disqualification then you will be very concerned and wondering if there is any way to avoid a careless driving disqualification.
The Magistrates’ sentencing guidelines provide discretion within each category as to whether to provide penalty points or a disqualification.
When considering whether to endorse penalty points or a disqualification the Magistrates’ will consider the circumstances as to how the offence occurred as well as mitigating circumstances such as good character as well as the impact a disqualification would have upon those around you should you be disqualified from driving. This is owing to proportionality as it would be in proportionate to the offence to disqualify someone from driving which will indirectly lead to punishing those around them through no fault of their own.
Even though the court do not require supporting documentation to consider mitigation, to have the best chance of avoiding a disqualification from driving then obtaining supporting letters is crucial.
Examples of letters to obtain to present mitigation to the court:
Section 35 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 provides that when a person accumulates 12 penalty points or more than they are subject to a ‘totting up’ disqualification of a minimum period of 6 months disqualification.
If you are facing a 6-month disqualification and receive penalty points as a result of ‘totting up’ then you will no doubt, be very concerned about this prospect. You may be wondering if there is a way whereby you can be endorsed with the penalty points but not be imposed with a driving disqualification. The only way to do this is by presenting an application for exceptional hardship to the court.
Exceptional hardship is a discretionary application which can be made before the court where a person has 12 or more penalty points, and they ask the court to take into consideration the impact that a disqualification would have upon those around them. When exceptional hardship is found the Magistrates’ use their discretionary powers to not disqualify you.
You may be wondering what is the definition of exceptional hardship? How do the court determine what exceptional hardship is? What do I need to present exceptional hardship?
Further Reading: Exceptional hardship and totting up
Exceptional hardship does not have a definitive definition as every individual is different and as a result every individual’s use of their licence will be different. Whilst this does not provide clarity, this ensures that the law takes into consideration an individual’s circumstances on a case-by-case basis.
The leading case of Cornwall v Coke  Crim L.R. 519, makes it clear that the courts have a duty to assess the implications of a disqualification upon persons not only including the Defendant but also other people besides the Defendant, bearing in mind that such persons are effectively innocent and will be punished irrespective of this.
Examples where exceptional hardship has been found:
When the Magistrates are considering an application for exceptional hardship, they consider the following guidelines which are provided to them by the legal advisor:
You may wonder how you can prove that a driving disqualification will cause severe hardship to yourself and those around you. The court requires evidence, what form does this need to be in? How high is the bar for exceptional hardship?
The bar for exceptional hardship is high as you will need to establish that special reasons for disqualification would be exceptional and not an inconvenience.
Top tips for presenting an exceptional hardship argument:
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As there is no definitive definition as to what exceptional hardship is and as a result this is considered on a case-by-case basis, if you would like honest advice as to the prospects of your application as well as the best approach then please contact us for free advice.
Owing to the discretionary nature of exceptional hardship there can never be a guarantee as to success in presenting these applications. To do so would be dishonest as the decision is ultimately down to the Court on the day as to whether they believe that a disqualification from driving would cause exceptional hardship to yourself and those around you and as a result they would like to exercise their discretion.
Usually where a person accumulates 12 or more penalty points the courts will impose a 6-month disqualification, however, this is a minimum and they can impose a higher disqualification. This occurs where the court concludes a person has numerous offences, or they have had a previous disqualification of over 56 days, which has been imposed within the three years prior to the date of which the current offence or most recent of the current offences was committed.
If you have been disqualified in the Magistrates’ Court as a result of ‘totting up’ then you have 21 days to appeal this decision to the Crown Court.
This is a complete re – hearing and enables you to present your application for exceptional hardship again. You may have been unsuccessful previously for a number of reasons e.g. insufficient evidence and so this enables you time and the ability to obtain help to ensure that this is as strong as possible.
In conclusion, when faced with a potential driving ban, understanding and applying mitigating circumstances can significantly impact the final decision. It’s crucial to consider factors like the nature of the offence, any remorse shown, your previous record, and potential exceptional hardship. Engaging a motoring solicitor, like our team of experts at Caddick Davies, can help to guide you effectively through this legal landscape.
At Caddick Davies Solicitors, we have a team of specialist motor defence lawyers that specialise in representing motorists at risk of a disqualification or a large number of penalty points. From the simplest to the most complex of cases, we are here to help. We start every enquiry with an informal discussion to get a clear understanding of your circumstances and are here to answer any questions that you may have in confidence.
For efficient and effective legal advice for motoring offences, please get in touch to discuss your case with our friendly team today.
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