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Speeding offences and exceptional hardship: Can sales representatives avoid a driving ban?

Speeding offences and exceptional hardship: Can sales representatives avoid a driving ban?

Large commissions, good training and trips abroad often lure field sales representatives into the profession. As well as focus and initiative, a successful sales representative should enjoy driving as they are often on the road meeting a variety of clients. Points on your licence, and even worse – a previous driving ban, would be a huge hindrance to joining or progressing in the profession.

Speeding offences can be an issue – even for cautious drivers

Speeding cameras have been haunting drivers for decades since the introduction of the Road Traffic Act (1991). This Act resulted in speed cameras being used across England, Scotland and Wales and allowed evidence from approved cameras to be admissible in court.

Research conducted by the Institute of Advanced Motorists, the UK’s largest independent road safety charity, indicated that 80% of drivers found the use of speed cameras acceptable and an important factor in reducing road fatalities.

However, speeding offences could easily be committed – even by the most safety-conscious drivers. Local councils can set their own speed limits in certain areas, and these must be clearly signed. Therefore new visitors to an area could find themselves in a confusing situation if they are not aware of the local speed limits. A field sales representative with multiple appointments in the day could easily find themselves accumulating points if they are in unknown territory.

Despite the support for speeding cameras and their widespread use, over 92,000 people were disqualified from driving between July 2013 – June 2014 (Institute of Advanced Motorists).

Regular traffic offences and penalty points

The penalty points system was introduced by the courts to provide a flexible solution to dealing with driving offences, whereby repeat and serious offenders could be appropriately punished.

The minimum number of points for minor road traffic offences is three; a number of offences result in three points and other offences offer magistrates the scope to endorse a licence with between three to nine points. Speeding offences dealt with by Fixed Penalty Notices lead to three points; however, serious speeding offences could result in an endorsement of up to six points. Driving without due care could lead to between three and nine points depending on the circumstances.

Regular speeding or other traffic offences will accumulate points (known as “totting up”) and could result in a driving ban. If a driver obtains 12 points in a three year period, the courts must consider imposing a driving disqualification for the recommended mandatory period of six months.

Certain offences – such as drink-driving or death by dangerous driving- result in an obligatory driving ban. However for other less serious offences, the courts have a discretion.

Penalty points are valid for three years from the date of conviction, but cannot be removed from your licence until four years has passed.

Accepting fixed penalty notices

A Fixed Penalty Notice can only be accepted by a driver who has eight or fewer points on their licence. Drivers who have nine points on their licence should not accept the Fixed Penalty Notice (if it has been sent out in error by the Process Unit); instead they will receive a court summons / postal requisition. A totting up ban can only be applied by the Court.

Is it possible to avoid a driving ban?

According to the 2011 census, 57% of the UK population drove to work.

As well as making the commute to work more difficult, losing your licence could be a huge inconvenience in terms of family and social commitments.

If the defendant can persuade the courts that a driving ban would lead to “exceptional hardship”, they could possibly avoid losing their licence. The submission of this argument to the courts (to avoid a ban or to be disqualified for fewer than six months) is also known as “mitigating circumstances”. The basis of this argument is:

  1. The defendant must convince the court that there are mitigating circumstances to justify not disqualifying the driver;
  2. The obligation is on the defendant to show that a driving disqualification should not be imposed;
  3. The hardship experienced is not limited to the driver but could also include an innocent third party who depends on the driver.

Convincing the courts can be a complex matter as there is no specific legal definition of “exceptional hardship”.

Increasing the likelihood of a successful outcome

Appealing a driving disqualification can be a lengthy and complex process. The financial and employment consequences of losing your licence could significantly affect the next six (or more) months of your life. However, expert legal advice- especially early on- could significantly increase the likelihood of a positive outcome.

Don’t let a driving ban affect your career. Contact Caroline Dunne, road traffic and speeding offences solicitor, today to discuss your case. Call 0330 999 4999 for immediate help or 01895 207928. Alternatively, email us at roadtraffic@ibblaw.co.uk