Q I already have nine points on my licence and have just been caught speeding again. Three points were due to expire on the 1st November, but I was caught again on the 30th October. Is the important date when the speeding offence actually occurred, or the date that it goes before the court?
A The relevant dates for calculating whether you have accumulated 12 points within three years, known as ‘totting up’, are the dates of the offences, not the dates of conviction in court. The court must, with very few exceptions, endorse your licence with between three and six penalty points for speeding, so even the minimum points would bring your total number of points on your licence to 12.
Disqualification is for a minimum of six months for totting up 12 points in three years, but this would be increased where previous disqualifications are taken into account. The minimum period of disqualification is increased to 12 months if you had a previous totting up disqualification in the three years preceding the conviction that brings your points to 12 on this occasion, or 24 months if there was more than one totting up disqualification within that three years period.
It is possible to avoid a disqualification under the totting up rules if the court is persuaded that you would suffer exceptional hardship, and then they have a discretion to say whether or not that should result in no disqualification or a reduced disqualification. The courts do not regard losing your job automatically as exceptional hardship, as the law says that anyone losing their job may endure hardship, but that does not necessarily make it exceptional hardship.
If the loss of your job would make it harder than for most to obtain alternative work, or if the loss of your job is likely to lead to the loss of your home because you cannot keep up with mortgage or rent payments, these circumstances could amount to exceptional hardship. The exceptional hardship need not be confined to the offender, so if your family were to suffer through your inability to drive, or people that depend on you would also feel the consequences, these factors can be taken into account. The same circumstances amounting to exceptional hardship can be pleaded only once in a period of three years. You would be well advised to be represented by a solicitor or barrister at your court hearing.