What Happens When I Reach 12 Penalty Points?
If you reach 12 points on your licence, this is classed as “totting up”.
When you tot up to 12 or more points on your licence, you automatically fall to be disqualified for 6 months.
You will have to go to court for this offence. The only way you can avoid a disqualification is if you plead Exceptional Hardship, and this is successful.
These are not easy applications to make. In effect, you are pleading guilty to an offence and asking not to be punished.
It’s not as simple as turning up to court and saying:
“I plead Exceptional Hardship. Can I keep my licence?”.
You need to have a fully prepared, steadfast application, showing the court that you have explored every possible option and there’s no feasible alternative to you keeping your licence.
There are no circumstances that guarantee an Exceptional Hardship’s success. Cases will always be stronger if you will suffer financial hardship (say you’re a lorry driver and without your licence you will lose your job), or if other people will suffer hardship as a result of your disqualification (for example, if you have a disabled sibling who can’t travel on public transport and there’s nobody else who could drive them). Having said that, there are plenty of circumstances outside the most common remits that can result in successful applications.
In order to plead Exceptional Hardship, you need to attend court and make a verbal application to the bench, explaining the hardship you and others may face if you were to be disqualified for 6 months. The key is in the wording, it has to be exceptional. An inconvenience, such as “I’d have to take a bus to work instead meaning I’d have to leave for work 40 minutes earlier than I normally do” isn’t going to be enough.
After your application is made, the Magistrates will retire and make a decision as to whether or not your application is successful or unsuccessful. If they agree your case amounts to Exceptional Hardship, then you won’t be banned. However, you will then be driving on 12 or more points until your current points expire. You need to be careful not to accrue any further points, as you can only make an Exceptional Hardship application on the same grounds once in a 3-year period. If they decide your case doesn’t amount to Exceptional Hardship then you’ll face the same outcome as if you didn’t plead Exceptional Hardship in the first case: a 6-month ban. You will never be penalised more harshly for making an application.
There is, in theory, a third option, whereby the court can decide to issue a short ban instead of the standard 6-month ban, however that power is very rarely used.
These cases can be fairly tricky to navigate, and we recommend you seek legal advice for something as important as keeping your driving licence.
All our lawyers are fully trained to give legal advice in relation to Exceptional Hardship cases, and can discuss the merits of your case as part of our free initial advice service.
We have a wealth of experience in these cases and boast over a 94% success rate on our Exceptional Hardship cases. Give us a call to discuss your case on 01623 397200.