Tag Archives: disqualification

Driving disqualification avoided due to exceptional hardship

Chesterfield Motoring Solicitor Kevin Tomlinson was recently instructed in a case where his client was at real risk of a driving disqualification. Her latest offending left her with 19 penalty points on her licence.  In order to ensure the best result for her, Kevin had to ensure that offences from two different court centres were before a single court.

road traffic law solicitor ChesterfieldKevin’s client had received a requisition from a Court in Staffordshire.  This was as a result of new speeding offences. If convicted she would have been over the 12 point penalty limit for keeping her driving license and a ban was possible. Kevin knew that the client would have a strong argument to keep her license as losing it would cause her exceptional hardship.

His client then discovered that she was to have a further case before Derby Magistrates’ Court involving similar offence.

It was important that both cases be listed together.  This was because Kevin could only put forward the same reasons for exceptional hardship once within a three year period.   Kevin managed to delay the case in Staffordshire until the case in Derby had been listed.  He was then able to have both matters listed before the same Magistrates’ Court.

At the point of sentencing Kevin had the opportunity to put forward the exceptional hardship argument on behalf of his client.  This gave her an opportunity to keep her driving license even though she now had 19 penalty points on her driving licence as a result of her guilty pleas.

Exceptional hardship arguments

motoring law solicitor chesterfieldAs all drivers know when you reach 12 penalty points the Court will disqualify you from driving under the totting up procedure. However, if it can be shown that exceptional hardship will result from a disqualification a driver is enabled to keep their license even though they have passed the 12 point penalty limit.

The concept of “exceptional hardship” is not comprehensively defined by the law.  It does, however, have to be more than an inconvenience caused as a natural result of a driving ban.

Issues that can amount to hardship may include:

  • Loss of a job resulting in loss of accommodation for others such as children
  • An inability to get to any work due to geographical and public transport restrictions
  • Loss of other third persons employment due to businesses having to close
  • The requirement to take family members to urgent medical appointments when no other transport is available

In this case Kevin argued exceptional hardship before the Magistrates.  His client gave evidence to the court about the difficulties she would face if she lost her licence.  Although the case was initially heard before two Magistrates, they could not agree.  As a result a third Magistrate was brought in so Kevin had to present the case again.

No driving disqualification but 19 penalty points

Fortunately for his client, Kevin was successful in his representations and exceptional hardship was found. The court chose to exercise its discretion not to impose a driving disqualification. This meant the Client could continue driving and was simply ordered to pay financial penalties for these offences.

Kevin’s advocacy skills and ability to see the bigger picture when collecting together cases before making his argument enabled the client to keep his driving licence.

Privately funded cases

For this type of case legal aid was not available.  Instead an agreed fixed fee was agreed in advance of the work being undertaken.  In the event this was arguably a small price to pay in order that our client keep her driving license.

Contact a Chesterfield Motoring Law Solicitor

Chesterfield road traffic law solicitor VHS Fletchers driving disqualification
Chesterfield motoring law solicitor Kevin Tomlinson

If you require advice and representation from an expert road traffic law solicitor because you face a driving disqualification then please contact Kevin at our Chesterfield office on 01246 283000 or use the contact form below.  Details of our Chesterfield Office can be found here.  Alternatively you can find your nearest office here.

Kevin can provide you with detailed and affordable advice as to whether you are able to challenge the prosecution evidence relating to your road traffic offence, or how you are likely to be sentenced following a guilty plea.


Police Identification Challenged in Excess Alcohol Trial



not guilty trial excess alcohol identification evidence
Nottingham crime solicitor Alex Chapman

Nottingham crime solicitor Alex Chapman secured an acquittal for a client facing a charge of driving with excess alcohol.  The trial was heard before Nottingham Magistrates’ Court.

The issue at trial was the correctness of the identification.  A police officer out on patrol saw a vehicle driving with a faulty brake light so the officer drove alongside the vehicle and spoke to the driver.

In response, the driver then drove away around a corner at speed.  This aroused the police officer’s suspicions so he followed the vehicle. By the time he caught up with the vehicle a few seconds later, the vehicle was stationary. There was now nobody in the driver’s seat.

Defending a charge of excess alcohol

One male was stood outside the vehicle.  Two males were sat on the backseat. The police officer believed that he immediately recognised our client, one of the back seat passengers, as the driver of the vehicle. Because of this he asked him to provide a roadside breath test, which he failed.  As a result he was arrested for driving with excess alcohol.

Alex’s client, a Polish national, insisted throughout that the officer had made a mistake.  He claimed that one of the other males had been the driver.

The only issue in the case was the correctness of the identification.  In order to convict the Magistrates would have to be sure that the officer had not made a mistake.  If there was a reasonable doubt as to that, then Alex’s client would be found not guilty.

As a result, Alex directed all of his cross examination to showing that the necessary doubt was present.  The officer admitted that he had spoken to the driver for less than three seconds. He accepted that it was dark at the time.  Although there was street lighting, the driver was sat inside car.  The interior light was not on so the inside of the car was in darkness.

Can you be ‘1 million per cent’ sure?

Alex showed the officer a photograph of his client’s friend.  He had been the other male sat in the backseat at the time of the arrest. The photograph was taken on the night in question. The officer conceded that they looked very similar. He could not be moved, however, on the correctness of the identification.  He continued to maintain that he was “one million percent sure” that Alex’s client had been the driver.

Our client gave evidence along with his friend.  His friend’s evidence was that he had been the driver. He stated that he had been taking the car for a test drive and panicked when he saw the police because he did not have insurance. He acknowledged that he knew he was admitting an offence himself but told the court he could not let his friend be wrongly convicted.

The third male who had been outside the car was the owner of the vehicle. He also attended to give evidence and support our client’s case.

Turnbull Guidelines and Identification

The quality of identification as well as the weight to be placed upon it is governed by the case of R -v- Turnbull.  Alex directed his closing speech to the Magistrates to dealing with these issues.  Although the officer himself was sure of the correctness of his identification, a convincing witness can still be mistaken.  Alex argued that in all of the circumstances the officer could have made a mistake.

This argument was supported by his client’s full cooperation and consistent denials of responsibility.  His account was also corroborated by two other witnesses.

The Magistrates found that despite the police officer’s confidence, they could not be sure of the correctness of the identification.  Alex’s client was found not guilty of excess alcohol.  Because of this he was not subject to the driving disqualification that would have followed a conviction.

Legal aid available

Despite being in work, Alex’s client was able to receive legal aid to ensure his free representation before the Magistrates’ Court.  This was particularly important in his case as he required the assistance of an interpreter.  Had there not been legal aid, he would have had to fund not only the case but interpreter’s fees himself when he gave instructions.

We will always investigate your entitlement to legal aid so that you receive affordable advice.

Contact a Nottingham criminal defence solicitor

If you are under investigation by the police or face court proceedings you will want to instruct an expert.  Call our Nottingham office on 0115 9599550 or contact us using the form below.

If one of our other offices is more convenient then you can find our contact details here.