Exceptional Hardship & Penaly Points

What is Totting up?

If you are “unlucky” enough as a driver to accumulate 12 or more penalty points in a 3 year period, (or in the case of a new driver 6 points for the first two years of holding a full licence) you will face ban and risk losing your license. The ban following an accumulation of points will usually be a ban lasting a minimum of 6 months. This is commonly referred to the "totting up" rules and you face being banned as a “totter”. If you have had another disqualification of over 56 days in the last 3 years, then a totting up disqualification is for a minimum of 12 months. If you have had two disqualifications in the last 3 years, then the minimum disqualification is for 2 years.

Close up of ball on roulette wheel in number thirteen

In certain circumstances, the court has discretion not to impose a ban.

The most common question in this scenario is, how can I avoid a ban? or is there a way I can keep my license?


We appreciate that the prospect of losing your license is daunting, scary and in a lot of cases can lead to losing your job or worse. This is why we assess your circumstances and your case in great detail, look at producing evidence on your behalf and prepare a meticulous Exceptional Hardship argument with a view to fighting to keep your license.


Contact us today to begin the preparation of your fight to keep your license.

What is Exceptional Hardship?

If you are at risk of accumulating 12 penalty points in any 3 year period on your license, the Magistrates Court guidelines provide that an immediate ban should be imposed. This will usually be for a minimum period of 6 months. If you are in this position, you should contact expert road traffic lawyers to begin the preparation of your case. Click here to request a call back.


Before imposing a ban, the Magistrates Court will give you the opportunity to put forward any circumstances or mitigation. It is at this point that you would present an argument that a disqualification from driving (or a ban) would cause exceptional hardship and that a ban should not be imposed.

Exceptional-Hardship 1

This is the only circumstance that will avoid an immediate ban from driving. Arguments are very often put forward that are not really exceptional and it is therefore important to ensure that the argument that you put forward is supported with appropriate evidence and that the Magistrates are shown and convinced that exceptional hardship exist.


We should advise that the normal hardship that follows from a driving ban would not be “exceptional”.

What is the definition of Exceptional Hardship?

There is no statutory definition of the phrase exceptional hardship. Therefore, it is for the Magistrates court to decide on the individual facts of each case whether exceptional hardship is made out.


From our experience and expertise in this area, we can assess the circumstances of your case and advise on the concept of Exceptional Hardship. In general terms, exceptional hardship means either hardship that affects you as the licence holder or driver or hardship that goes beyond unpleasant consequences affecting innocent parties.

What would amount to Exceptional Hardship?

As a starting point, when examining the circumstances of your case, we would determine the effect of you losing your license and whether any of the following applied to you:


  • Whether and to what extent your employer or business owner might suffer if you were to lose your license.

  • Whether and to what extent you have health problems and the impact that a restriction on mobility would have for you.

  • Whether and to what extent other colleagues would be affected by you losing your license. For example, would members of your team stand to lose job stability if you as a manager or team leader were to lose your license.

  • Whether and to what extent family members would suffer as a result of ban from driving.

  • Whether you work in a profession with a high level of importance to the health or safety of the public, or a specific group of people.

  • Loss of a career. In most cases, loss of career would not of itself be sufficient to support an application not to be disqualified from driving due to exceptional hardship. However, with the correct presentation, supported by relevant supporting information or evidence and presented well, might be shown to amount to exceptional hardship.

It is important to stress that the above is not a complete list and the Magistrates Court will look at all of the circumstances of every case and will decide each on their own facts. Having carried out a thorough assessment of your case, it may well be the case that we are able to formulate an argument that you should not be banned on the grounds of exceptional hardship, for other reasons or a combination of reasons.

Do I Have to Have a Lawyer?

No. There is nothing preventing you from representing yourself. If you feel that you have the required expertise in putting together a sound case supported by sufficient documentary evidence and feel confident that you can present your case to the magistrates in coherent, lucid, succinct and compelling manner, then you might consider representing yourself.

Do I Need a Lawyer

Yes. These arguments are technical and require great skill and attention to detail in drafting and presenting. Allow us to represent you and show you that we can make a difference, let us:

  • Ensure the best Exceptional Hardship argument is advanced on your behalf;

  • Gather all of the necessary evidence to ensure that the best exceptional hardship argument is supported with documentation or evidence;

  • Actually spend time with you and fully understand your case from your perspective;

  • Represent you before the court and advocate on your behalf and present your argument to the court coherently and persuasively

Genuine horsehair barrister's wig on an antique desk

What Happens at Court?

Before you get to court let our team of expert motoring lawyers discuss matters with you in detail. We will explain the Magistrates’ court procedure in detail and answer any questions that you may have. Our aim is to ensure you are as prepared as you can be for your day in court.


During the hearings itself, the court clerk will usually ask you to identify yourself by your name and address. If there is any reason why your address should not be stated in open court, then we will advise the magistrates of this in advance and avoid the need for you to announce your address in open court.

The buiding of the former Bow Street Magistrates Court in London.

Following this, the court clerk will read out the charge to you and ask whether you plead guilty or not guilty. Once you have pleaded guilty, the prosecutor (who is usually from the Crown Prosecution Service) will provide the magistrates with the details or the facts of the allegation. The magistrates will then invite us to advance any mitigation on your behalf. It is at this point that we would invite the magistrates to consider “exceptional hardship”.


During the course of an exceptional hardship argument, it is usual for you to give evidence on oath. Your evidence will commence with one of our skilled barristers or solicitors asking you questions in such a way to support the contention that you should not be banned from driving and emphasising to the Magistrates the strength of your exceptional hardship arguments. At the conclusion of our questions, the prosecutor (usually from the Crown Prosecution Service) or the court may ask questions of you. If we have decided that other witnesses would also be called in support of your application, they will be called as well.


We would then provide the court and the prosecutor any other supporting documentation the person trying to keep their licence will have to give sworn evidence.

Why SJ Law?

You will find information about our firm on the about us page. In summary:

We are a specialist firm, established over 15 years.

There are many firms up and down the country who “specialise” in just about anything and everything. We have established a long time with a pedigree for success. So many of our clients are from referrals, which to us, is the mark of approval.

We are not a referral agency.

There are many companies and sites that appear to be lawyers, but they are referral sites to lawyers. Ask yourself this, why do those firms need to be signed up to referral agencies? There are a number of possible answers:

  • They have not been established very long and need help attracting clients

  • They have not taken the time, effort and financial resources to attract you directly, they would prefer to pay to get you to instruct them.

  • They are not very good.

Whatever the reason may be, we don’t think that it is anything that would benefit you or your case.

We are Solicitors & Barristers

We have one of the largest dedicated departments in the country. We have a number of solicitors, barristers and higher court advocates who are directly employed by us. We do not use unqualified “paralegals” or seek to fob you off with unqualified Clerks. Your case will be supervised by a partner and you will have continuity of representation in your case.



157a High Street
London E17 7BX

020 8520 6600

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