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Exceptional Hardship

When a driver accumulates 12 or more penalty points within a 3 year period (counting back from the date of the most recent offence), the Court are obliged to impose a mandatory disqualification from driving of at least 6 months (it can sometimes be more) unless the Court can be persuaded that to do so would cause exceptional hardship.

Exceptional Hardship refers to extreme hardship or suffering beyond that what is deemed inevitable as a result of a totting up ban. It is a legal argument that can be submitted to the court to try and avoid or reduce a driving disqualification that is to be imposed under the totting up provisions.

The argument must show that the hardship to be caused is not merely inconvenience but exceptional hardship. As every driving disqualification will normally cause some hardship for a person and their family, therefore, the Court are looking for consequences which are out of the ordinary. The Court will need to satisfied, on the balance of probabilities as to whether exceptional hardship will be caused and the court must be presented with evidence (this is normally done by someone giving evidence about their circumstances under oath).


Trick or Truth:

  • There is a specific list of exceptional hardship redemptions that can apply. Trick or Truth?
  •  The most common Motoring offence that the Court deal with is speeding. Trick or Truth?
  •  Exceptional hardship can be argued in relation to any potential driving disqualification. Trick or Truth?
  •  By arguing exceptional hardship, you will automatically get a reduced sentence. Trick or Truth?
  •  There is no limit to the amount of times that exceptional hardship can be argued. Trick or Truth?
  • If you have to take the bus to work, or someone else might have to pick the children up from school. This could be exceptional hardship. Trick or Truth?
  •  Loss of employment alone will grant someone exceptional hardship. Trick or Truth?


Answers for Trick or Truth:

  • Trick: No, each case is considered on its own merits.
  • Truth: Speeding is the most common driving offence on UK roads.
  • Trick: No, exceptional hardship can only be used in relation to points based totting disqualifications. It cannot be argued in relation to mandatory disqualification for offences such as drink driving or dangerous driving.
  • Trick: It is at the judge’s discretion.
  • Trick: You cannot argue the same set of facts for exceptional hardship more than once in any 3-year period.
  • Trick: These are examples of things that may be a nuisance, but these things are not likely to amount to exceptional hardship.
  • Trick: It is a common misconception that loss of employment alone would constitute exceptional hardship, it would not. However, the effects of that loss of employment to include the loss of someone’s home or ability to support vulnerable persons, might.


For further information, or to speak to a member of the GR86, please email Kearna Manning, [email protected]

Nothing in this article constitutes legal advice. Please be aware that the relevant law may have changed since the date of publication of this article.