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Another way to avoid a ban from driving...

View profile for Sean Joyce
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The latest news from the Magistrates Court involved a gentleman from Blackburn, in the County of Lancashire, who is driving on our public roads with a grand total of 30 points endorsed on his driving licence. He was able to convince Magistrates that he would be severely affected if they were to impose a six month disqualification on him. The 'totting up system' would mean under normal circumstances that should he reach 12 points on his licence it would result in a ban of six months after which he would get his licence back clean. 
The motorist was able to use an application known as 'Exceptional Hardship' which means that he would suffer a great deal of difficulty should his licence be taken away. The level of hardship needed though has steadily decreased over the last few years with social, domestic and financial aspects all being given great importance. The application can only be made on the same grounds once in three years and the application to the Court requires thorough preparation, preferably through a specialist solicitor with a good track record. 
Although this type of application has some critics it is clear that a sentence that involves a mandatory six month disqualification from driving requires an alternative for the Court to consider should the circumstances require it. The Courts have become very aware over the last decade that any sentence that cannot be varied in any shape or form rapidly becomes a problem rather than a solution.
Mr Jack Straw, the former Home Secretary, said it was surprising that someone could get so many points and not be banned. He was quoted as saying "It is quite right that the law does give magistrates the discretion to deal with cases of exceptional hardship, but I am very surprised that someone has got 30 points, I would be keen to know how anybody can have 30 points and still be driving. But there shouldn't be a rigid cut off point for an automatic ban, it is up to the magistrates to deal with each case."