Exceptional Hardship FAQ
Special Reasons (Section 34 of the Road Traffic Act1988)
“Where a person is convicted of an offence involving obligatory disqualification the court must order him to be disqualified for such period not less than 12 months as the court thinks fit unless the court for special reasons thinks fit to order him to be disqualified for a shorter period or not to order him to be disqualified.” This is not a defence to the charge, but if successfully argued can save you from being disqualified.
A special reason is one which is special to the facts of a particular case. It is a mitigating or extenuating circumstance which is directly connected with the commission of the offence and which can properly be taken into consideration by the sentencing court. It is not circumstances peculiar to the offender.
Special reasons particularly in relation to drink driving offices have generated a considerable body of case law.
In cases involving drink driving the court will consider factors such as under noted. This is not an exhaustive list as each case depends on its own facts and circumstances:
The onus of establishing special reasons lies on the defence, and the standard is that of the balance of probabilities.
The hardship must be exceptional and each case is decided on its own facts and circumstances.
The hardship must be exceptional and not something which results in a mere inconvenience to the accused.
The severity and degree of the hardship must be established and the court will assess the seriousness of the implications of the 6-month ban from driving.
The court will also consider the effects of disqualification on other persons. This can be a very important factor which weighs heavily in the court’s mind in coming to a decision.
The standard for what is considered exceptional hardship is set relatively high, it is therefore vital that the argument is prepared and presented properly.