Why 12 penalty points on your driving licence doesn’t always mean a ban

Tuesday 1st February 2022

There is a common misconception that if you accrue 12 penalty points on your driving licence you will inevitably face a six month driving ban for “totting-up”.

While a ban is a possible outcome, you do have the right to go to court to explain why it would be unfair to ban you, by putting forward what are often called submissions of “exceptional hardship”. The gist of your argument has to be that you, or someone else, would suffer exceptional hardship if you were to lose your licence for six months.

There is no legal definition or statutory test for “exceptional hardship” although the phrase is self-explanatory: the hardship you or someone else would suffer will need to be particularly difficult to bear. It’s a high threshold you have to meet. The Magistrates will want to see evidence of how you and/or others would be affected by a driving ban.

Some “totters” just focus on how they themselves would suffer if they were banned. Although this is undoubtedly a relevant consideration for the court, evidence of hardship to someone else, who is entirely blameless, is a more powerful argument to make. Examples may include demonstrating how a ban would affect a loved one or a colleague/your employer who relies on your ability to drive.

You should get legal advice as soon as possible if you think you are at risk of accumulating 12 penalty points within the three year window necessary for you to be disqualified as a “totter”. We have the experience and expertise to advise you on the strengths and weaknesses of your argument, and to put your case as persuasively as possible.