Making a case to avoid a driving ban
Today I’m going to talk to you about a real case: a client of mine who contacted me in the last few weeks, who had reached 12 penalty points on her driving licence.
She was petrified of being disqualified, and I’m going to explain to you how her case was prepared and presented, and how we managed to avoid a disqualification in her case.
12 points on your licence usually means a minimum6 month ban
As you know, if you reach 12 or more penalty points on your driving licence, you are liable to be disqualified for a minimum of six months, unless you can show that you would suffer exceptional hardship. If you can show that exceptional hardship would follow, then there’s a discretion within the court to either not disqualify at all, or to disqualify for a lesser period. Now, in my client’s case, (and, of course, I’m explaining all of this to you with her permission) she and her family lived in a rural village.
How exceptional hardship was used, when avoiding a driving ban:
The nearest railway station was 12 miles away. The nearest main town was 14 miles away. There was a very limited bus service in her village. It ran from Monday to Friday only, there were two buses in the morning and two in the late afternoon. Therefore, anyone who lived in this village, if they were going to have a normal life, had to have a car, or the benefit of a car.
In her case, she was married with two children.
The two children were teenage daughters. Each daughter had medical and physical disabilities, and each had been classified as a ‘special educational needs child’ (SEN Child). As a result of which, each had to attend special schools. One of the difficulties she faced was that the schools were several miles away from the village. Each school was several miles apart from the other school, and from the home address. Of course, she had to take the children to school at about the same time of the day, and they had to be brought back at about the same time of the day; so that alone was an onerous task.
In addition, in the case of these two children, because of their medical and mental conditions, they had to regularly go to GPs’ appointments, hospital appointments, consultants’ appointments, and so on, and so forth.
So the amount of driving that was required, just because of her two daughters, was enormous; and it would have been very difficult – if not impossible – to look after the children properly without the use of a car.
Hardship on fellow workers
Turning to the business side of things, the mother was one of two directors of a publishing company. She and her co-director had set up this company about two to three years before. It was very hard work in the early stages, but they were beginning to reap the rewards of the early hard work and the business had now taken on a few clients. Now, the mother’s role in the business was very much a marketing role, as well as delivering services. So she had to visit clients in London, she had to visit clients in Norfolk and the surrounding counties. She had to deliver presentations, teach on courses, and so on, and so forth. In order to do that, again, a car was necessary. Now, if she were disqualified, the co-director couldn’t have fulfilled her role, because the co-director’s role was very much an office based role. His duties were involved online marketing, and other office based activities. So if she were to have been disqualified, it would have adversely affected the interest of the business, and therefore of the co-director. And of course the court is particularly sensitive to hardship caused to innocent parties, such as, her own children or the co-director. By definition they are innocent; they have not been involved in any wrong doing. And if they are going to suffer hardship, a court will be quicker to find that exceptional hardship follows; as opposed to the situation where the only person is going to suffer is the driver.
Bringing focus on to the mitigation of your case
So therefore, essentially, we established two areas where the mitigation focused. The first is on her home life, and the interests of her daughters. The second was her business life, and the interest of her co-director and any employees of the business. Obviously, I saw my lay client in conference, long in advance before her court appearance, and we carefully went through her mitigation. Once we identified the areas of mitigation, we then needed to seek corroboration of that mitigation.
Finding evidence of your mitigation
So I therefore, advised her to obtain letters of reports from a number of people, such as the social worker who was familiar with the children and their difficulties, explaining what those difficulties were, and how the lack of a car would adversely impact upon the children. Secondly, from the GPs of the daughters, from consultants of the daughters, the consultants who attended to their various medical conditions, and so on, and so forth. I also asked her to obtain a google map for example, and to mark on the map where the village was where they lived; where the two schools were; where the nearest main town was; where the nearest rail way station was, and so on, and so forth. So that the court would be able to see at a glance the amount of the travelling that needed to be undertaken in a course of their ordinary lives. I asked for them to get the reports from the schools. And turning to the business side of things, I asked her to get a letter from her co-director explaining the divisions of roles, and how loss of her licence would adversely impact upon the business. I asked her to get letters from some of the business clients saying that the contracts stipulated she had to visit them not the other way around, and where they were located, and so on, and so forth. I even asked her to obtain a report from her accountant because sometimes the courts would say, “We’re going to ban you anyway, you can pay for taxis to take you and your family around.” So to deal with that, I needed a letter from the accountant to indicate that the overall level of the household income was actually very low, and there was no way that she would be able to afford taxis. So in this way, we were able to put together a bundle of material. Copies of this were obtained, and then when we attended court, copies of the bundles were handed up to the magistrate, so they could read these bundles before we addressed the court.
Preparing for your day in court
At court on the day, because of the burden of proofing the exceptional hardship would follow, I had to call my lay client to give evidence. Now, of course you would probably be daunted at the prospect of giving evidence before a court, but bear in mind, my lay client had been through this with me; I’d explained to her in advance, the kind of questions I would be asking her; we discussed in advance the kind of answers she would be giving; I’d explained to her in advance that she was liable to be cross examined, even if only gently, by the court clerk or prosecutor. And so she was fully prepared for giving evidence. And she was able to do that in a relatively relaxed way. Once she had finished giving evidence, the position was now it was my turn to address the court to draw it all together by reference to her evidence and to the documentation which we had supplied to the court. And to put her case at its highest, to make the most persuasive case possible for not disqualifying her, and I am glad to say, that in this case, it all worked very well, because at the end of the day, she wasn’t disqualified at all.
Find the best lawyer you can, to help you prepare your case.
So if you find yourself in this position; and if you think you are capable of doing that all on your own, by all means do. I would advise you to instruct the best lawyer that you can find, who specialises in this type of work, so that your case can be prepared at its highest. So that you can prepare a bundle of materials, which is directly relevant, and which corroborates your case, so that when you go into court, you are well prepared and you know what to expect. And so that when your case has finally to be summed up before the magistrates, that he is in the best possible position to put your case across in the most persuasive manner possible. If you do all of that, you may well find that despite your expectations, that in fact, you can avoid a disqualification all together.