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The starting point following a conviction for some driving offences can be either an automatic or discretionary ban. Various arguments can be deployed, however, to avoid such a ban.


If you are facing a potential ban as a result of accumulating 12 or more points on your licence, (commonly referred to as ‘totting-up’) it may be possible to avoid disqualification by advancing an argument that it would cause exceptional hardship.

If you have been convicted of drink-driving, the starting point is an automatic ban of a minimum of 12 months from driving. However, it may be possible to argue that there are what are in law known as “special reasons” not to disqualify you. A ‘special reason’ is a mitigating or extenuating circumstance, not amounting in law to a defence to the charge. The reason must be directly connected with the commission of the offence and ought to be properly considered by the court when imposing punishment. The concept of ‘special reasons’ exists to allow the court in appropriate circumstances to either reduce the length of a ban or provide no ban at all.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • I am charged with drink-driving, but my drink was laced - will I still be disqualified?

    If your drink was laced with alcohol, that could form a special reason to avoid disqualification. It will be necessary to demonstrate to the court that

    • Your drink had been laced
    • You did not know or suspect that your drink had been laced
    • If you had not had the laced drink, your level of alcohol would not have exceeded the prescribed limit

    It will typically be necessary to obtain expert evidence to support such an argument and Freemans road traffic lawyers will be able to instruct an appropriate expert, as part of the preparation of your case.

  • Will I still be disqualified for drink driving if I only drive a short distance?

    Driving a short distance is not a defence; however, it may be used as a special reason not to disqualify you, if you are otherwise facing a ban. A short distance driven on its own is not enough to avoid disqualification so the court will look at everything that happened before they decide if you should be disqualified from driving. The court should consider:

    • How far the vehicle was actually driven
    • In what manner was it driven
    • What was the state of the vehicle
    • Whether it was the intention of the driver to drive any further
    • The prevailing conditions with regard to the road and the traffic upon it
    • Whether there was a possibility of danger by coming into contact with other road users;
    • What the reason was for the car being driven at all

    A particular conclusion concerning one of these features will not automatically produce a particular result. The court are required to consider all of these features that apply and look at the overall picture before reaching a final decision.

  • I am charged with drink-driving, but I was only driving because of an emergency.

    Driving in an emergency can amount to a special reason. The court should examine the circumstances objectively. They should first determine whether the situation was a genuine emergency. If it was, they should go on to consider whether there were other reasonable methods of meeting it, that did not involve driving. In making an objective assessment the court will ask themselves whether a ‘reasonable and sober person’ would have advised the person to drive in the perceived emergency. The amount of actual alcohol that the driver had consumed and the potential danger to other road users will be factors to be considered.

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