What is a driving ban?
A driving ban is a driving disqualification imposed on a driver by the Court, as a result of committing a motoring offence. In certain cases, you may be able to avoid a driving ban by employing specific defences or circumstances which we will cover in this article. The type of ban and the duration of the ban will depend largely on the nature of the offence that was committed along with other circumstances that the Court may take into account.
There are four types of driving bans –
1. Instant or mandatory driving ban: An instant ban is usually imposed in circumstances where driving recklessly has caused death. Other circumstances include driving while drunk, driving under the influence of drugs, dangerous driving and refusing to provide a specimen for analysis. Typically, an instant driving ban would be for 12 months. However, depending on the severity of the offence, the Court can increase the ban significantly, as they see fit.
2. Totting up ban: This is a driving disqualification imposed due to totting up or accumulating 12 points on a driving licence within a three-year period of time. This would result in a 6-month ban from driving.
3. Discretionary ban: As the name suggests, a discretionary ban depends on the Court’s discretion. A driving ban for excessive speeding, careless driving, driving without insurance, failing to stop after an accident or failing to report it, are all instances when the Court has exercised its discretion. Typically, a discretionary driving ban would range in duration from seven to 56 days. However, depending on the severity of the offence, the Court can increase the ban significantly, as they see fit.
4. New Driver’s Act 1995: This applies to all drivers who passed their full driving test after 1st June 1997. The New Driver’s Act imposes a probationary period of 2 years within which, if the driver were to commit any offences that result in 6 points being added to their licence, their licence would then be revoked.
How to avoid a driving ban?
How to avoid a driving ban will depend entirely on the type of offence committed and the circumstances surrounding the situation. However, there are four methods that are commonly employed.
1. Not Guilty: A viable defence may be constructed based on the fact that the allegation brought forward is false or that the police do not have a well-prepared case with the right supporting evidence as required by the relevant act of parliament
2. Exceptional Hardship: In the case of a driving ban resulting from totting up, a driver may present an Exceptional Hardship argument. An Exceptional Hardship argument hinges on someone other than the driver suffering exceptional hardship as a result of a driving ban. For example, if it would mean employees would lose their jobs, family members / dependents would suffer as a result of the driver losing their job, or people who rely on the driver for care suffering. Presenting an Exceptional Hardship argument will require evidence to be given under oath and supported where possible by letters to the Court from employers or those who would suffer (assuming they are unable to come to Court to give evidence in person). A successful Exceptional Hardship argument could result in the ban being avoided but can only be used once in a three year period.
3. Special Reasons: Special Reasons take into account the circumstances when the offence was committed. For example, drink driving in an emergency or as a result of drinks being spiked. It is important to note that this is not a defence and should not be used as such. The Special Reasons argument does not negate the fact that the offence was committed. Rather, it accounts for any extenuating circumstances that would be reasonable to consider by the Court in order to reduce the driving ban imposed or avoid it entirely. Therefore, it is essential that when presenting a Special Reasons argument, the driver does not argue that the offence itself was not committed. The bar will be very high here and in one of the examples given, evidence would be required from the person who admits to spiking your drink!
4. Mitigating Circumstances: A plea of mitigation is a statement on behalf of the defendant to paint a positive picture and try to reduce the severity of the offence in the eyes of the Court. Pleading guilty at the earliest opportunity and not wasting the Court’s time also puts the defendant in a good position to avoid a ban where this is at the Court’s discretion. Defendants are given credit for early guilty pleas although it is everyone’s right to have the prosecution prove the case alleged against them – everyone will be aware of the commonly used phrase that you are innocent until proven guilty. It is important to remember that a Plea of Mitigation is not a defence and if the prosecution version of events is not accepted, it is possible that the Court will require a hearing in order to establish the facts of the alleged offence.
Examples of when mitigating circumstances can be used:
– To reduce the penalty points being imposed.
– To reduce the amount of a fine.
– To increase the time allowed to pay a particular fine.
– To reduce the duration of a ban if it cannot be avoided.
– In the event of an instant ban, to persuade the Court to impose points instead.
How to avoid a driving ban for speeding?
Speeding offences often result in a fine and three to six points being added to the driver’s licence. However, a driving ban for speeding is imposed as an instant or discretionary driving ban in the event of excessive speeding. This would be for a seven- to 56-day period. Generally, the higher the speed, the higher the likelihood of the Court imposing a ban. An instant ban is very likely if a driver has been caught exceeding the speed limit by 45% or over, or driving more than 30mph over the limit.
At Newtons Solicitors, we are experienced in dealing with motoring offences and can recognise how to avoid a driving ban for speeding by considering all the circumstances of the offence committed along with the evidence and defence that can be presented in Court.
How long do speeding points stay on licence?
In the case of totting up, points will remain live for three years, after which they no longer count towards a 12 point ban. It is important to remember that it is the number of live points at the time of an alleged offence that the Court takes into consideration, even if points have dropped off by the time that a case comes to Court.
Points stay on the driver’s record for anywhere between four to 11 years depending on the severity of the offence. Most offences will result in points staying on the licence for a duration of four years, after which they will automatically be removed. But severe offences such as causing death by reckless driving would result in the points remaining on the licence for up to 11 years.
Is speeding a driving conviction?
A driving conviction is when a motorist is caught breaking any motoring law. Common driving offences such as reckless driving, drink driving, drug driving or a driving ban for speeding, are all motoring offences that could result in a driving conviction.
Being caught for any criminal offence that results in penalty points added to a licence or being summoned to the Magistrates Courts is considered a driving conviction.
In some cases, if you are caught by the police for committing a motoring offence, they may decide to take no action, issue a warning or offer additional drivers training courses instead. This would therefore not result in a driving conviction.
A driving conviction is a criminal record that might have to be declared for travel visas or job applications, although in many cases, driving offences that aren’t serious aren’t taken into consideration.
Does a driving ban affect insurance?
A driving disqualification or any other driving conviction will unfortunately increase the premium of your car insurance significantly. If you have a driving conviction, you might struggle to find insurers that are willing to provide any insurance coverage at all. This is because drivers that have been convicted of motoring offences such as driving bans for speeding, drink driving or reckless driving, have been statistically found to be at higher risk of being involved in further accidents and are therefore considered to be a higher risk for insurers.
As a general rule, the higher the severity of the offence, the higher the premium will be. A driving conviction will most likely affect the cost of your car insurance for a period of five years at least and not disclosing previous convictions would be considered insurance fraud. This could result in your insurer either refusing to pay out a claim or claiming the cost of any claim back from the driver.
Can a judge overturn a driving ban?
An appeal to a higher court can be made against a driving ban if the court has wrongly interpreted the law or the sentence is wholly unreasonable based on the facts of the case. However a court, on appeal, can also increase the length of a ban.
A court will also offer to reduce a drink drive ban by 25% if the driver successfully completes a driver rehabilitation course.
A court can also remove a driving disqualification early. Half of a disqualification must have been served, being at least 2 years. The court will consider your conduct during the ban and the reason why you want to drive again (such as a job offer).
Newtons’ Driving Ban Solicitors
At Newtons Solicitors we understand that navigating driving convictions and attending court can be an overwhelming and intimidating process. We offer specialist motoring legal advice and non-judgemental support on matters such as how to avoid a driving ban, drink driving, driving bans for speeding and other motoring offences. We are committed to helping you present the most compelling case possible. If you would like to discuss your case with us, please contact our experienced solicitors today.