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Our driving offence lawyers are experts in road traffic offences, motoring law and exceptional hardship. We are based in Newcastle upon Tyne and South Shields, and offer representation throughout the North East. Our exceptional hardship solicitors have many years’ experience and are best ranked in the North East.

Can I avoid a ban by showing I would suffer exceptional hardship?

If you reach 12 penalty points in any 3-year period by ‘totting up’, Court guidelines state that an immediate ban of 6 months or more should be imposed. The period of the ban increases if you have been disqualified before.

Before considering whether a ban should be imposed, the Court will give you the opportunity to raise an exceptional hardship argument in order to persuade them that a ban should not be imposed.

In order to be successful, you must prove to the Court that the hardship you would suffer is beyond that which would normally be suffered by a person being disqualified.

Examples of exceptional hardship

Loss of your job does not automatically amount to exceptional hardship, as some Courts will regard this as a reasonably foreseeable outcome of losing your licence and therefore not “exceptional”.

However, the implications that arise from the loss of employment and the effect it would have on others could amount to exceptional hardship, such as an inability to pay your mortgage as a result of losing your job or not being able to take young children to school if you are the sole driver in the family. Other examples include:

  • Effect of disqualification on other people – if the defendant is a business owner and their driving ban would affect employees and colleagues
  • Caring for others – if the defendant needs their car to care for elderly or disabled relatives
  • Mortgage or financial loss – if there is a risk that the defendant could lose their home or go bankrupt because of the ban

Your case can be expertly prepared by us to ensure that it exceeds the requirements imposed by the Court, guaranteeing the best chance of forwarding a successful argument.

Has the law recently changed?

The Sentencing Guidelines have been amended in October 2020. However, this merely makes clearer the guidance which was previously being given in courts.

The full guidance to the court can be found on the sentencing council website ‘Totting up’ disqualification – Sentencing (sentencingcouncil.org.uk)

What will the procedure be?

Most minor road traffic offences now commence with the Single Justice Procedure. This refers to a private court where a single magistrate will deal with straight forward charges. You will be unable to attend this hearing in person.

You would receive a Single Justice Procedure Notice asking you to respond pleading guilty or not guilty. You can respond in writing or online. If you face disqualification under the totting up you would then receive a letter explaining the court is considering disqualification. You will be required to respond requesting a court hearing. The court will then arrange an “Exceptional Hardship” hearing.

You will be required to attend this hearing in order to put forward an Exceptional Hardship argument.

We recommend you contact one of our specialised exceptional hardship solicitors as soon as you are aware of the proceeding as this will allow more time to prepare your case. However, our solicitors can assist at short notice if required.

What happens if I do nothing?

If you do not respond – or if you do not receive the notice regarding the Single Justice Procedure, you will be found guilty in your absence. This can result in a higher fine and court costs being imposed.

If you do not respond to the notice of disqualification, you can be disqualified from driving in your absence. Please be aware that driving while disqualified is an imprisonable offence and viewed seriously by the courts, even if you were not present when the disqualification was imposed.

Contact us

This is the only opportunity you will get to avoid a disqualification from driving so contact our dedicated Customer Relationship Manager on 0191 243 8148, to arrange representation from our specialist exceptional hardship solicitors.

Northumbria Police road traffic cases are now being dealt with centrally at Gateshead Magistrates Court – click for directions.

The David Gray Exceptional Hardship Team

Janice Hall

Senior Associate Solicitor

Michael Gibson

Senior Associate Solicitor

Sophie Allinson-Howells

Associate Solicitor

Josh Hart


Amy Lamb


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