Taxi Today magazine
20th October 2011
Keeping your licence – the plain facts about totting up points bans
Oliver Gardner, a specialist taxi and motoring lawyer at Howards & Henry’s Solicitors, explains the facts when contesting a driving ban for totting up 12 points or more.
The vast majority of taxi drivers value their licences, respect other road users and drive responsibly. However, driving long hours and covering as many miles each year as taxi drivers do, it is more likely minor offences may be committed compared to most other road users.
‘Totting up’ – or accruing points on a driving licence – is one of the hazards that many taxi drivers must be aware of in the course of their working lives.
Points for driving offences can start as low as two points for a conviction although most begin with three points. More points can be incurred depending on the seriousness and specific nature of the offence. Some offences fall within a band, for example, driving without due care and attention carries a penalty of between three and nine points.
(Detailed information about offences and punishments can be found at www.legislation.gov.uk)
Should the points resulting from such offences total 12 or more within a three-year period, then the courts are obliged to impose a driving ban of at least six months – or if the driver has been disqualified for more than 56 days within the last three years, the minimum disqualification will be one year.
Many taxi drivers believe arguing “exceptional hardship” through the loss of work will allow them to avoid a ban. The legal facts do not tie in with this view.
While the courts do have the discretion to allow drivers to keep their licences if a ban will result in exceptional hardship, the emphasis is very much on the term “exceptional”. The whole point of the ban is to cause hardship. The courts will already be aware that where a taxi driver is concerned, a driving ban will result in the loss of employment. However, this will not necessarily in itself be regarded as “exceptional hardship.”
Therefore arguing against being banned on that basis is unlikely to be successful. The court has to be satisfied that the result of a driving ban will be exceptionally harsh.
It is not always easy to predict what will be accepted as “exceptional hardship” because interpretation between judges can differ, as can the circumstances of the driver in each case.
It is entirely the defendant’s responsibility to show why a driving disqualification should not be imposed. However any motorist facing a ban will always have the opportunity to present reasons why they should be allowed to keep their driving licence.
Defendants are not obliged to have legal representation though it is not straightforward or easy to achieve a favourable outcome without specialist advice and representation.
If a submission is not fully prepared or specific legal criteria established (in order that the court can exercise discretion) then the argument is likely to be quickly rejected.
A specialist motoring solicitor can prove crucial in offering expert knowledge and presentation.
A good motoring lawyer should also be able to guide you through all the court’s processes, which can be complex. He or she should prepare you for a possible cross-examination, as well as presenting technical issues in such a way that key criteria are met and the plea is fully considered with the best chance of retaining their driving licence.
Oliver Gardner is managing partner at specialist taxi and motoring legal practice Howards & Henry’s Solicitors
Oliver can be reached for a confidential chat on 0800 876 6749 or by e-mail on [email protected]