Driving offences carry penalty points as punishment. The number of points you get depends on how serious the offence is – for example, for careless driving the punishment can be anywhere from 3-9 points (or for very serious cases even a ban). Points stay on your licence for three years. And all of the points you get are added together. If a driver reaches 12 points, then the driver becomes a ‘totter’. (For other forms of disqualificaiton see our disqualification and avoiding a ban page here.)
Disqualification and Mitigating Circumstances
If after the points of the new offence are added to the points on your licence you have 12 points or more and the new offence carries obligatory endorsement (i.e. you must get points) and discretionary disqualification or obligatory disqualification and no order was made under section 34 Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 (i.e. they don’t have to disqualify you outright, or decided not to – see our disqualification page here) then the court must disqualify you from driving for the minimum period unless after mitigation the court is satisfied that a lesser disqualification or no disqualification is suitable. It is open to argue hardship but the courts will only consider exceptional hardship.
The minimum period of disqualification is 6 months (if no account is to be taken of any previous disqualification) 12 months (if there is one relevant previous disqualification) and 2 years if there is more than one previous disqualification).
"When do you have to take account of a previous disqualification?"
When do you have to take account of a previous disqualification? If it was a fixed disqualification for 56 days or more and if it was imposed (i.e. when the decision was taken to apply it – or sentence) within 3 years of the commission (i.e. the date) of the new offence.
The minimum period won’t apply if your barrister can persuade the court that there are mitigating circumstances. Unlike ‘special reasons’ which relate to the facts of the offence, mitigating circumstances relate to facts about you. For example, your ability to care for properly for a sick relative or friend if you were unable to drive.
Exceptionally, the court can disqualify for any offence for any period although this power is really only used for more serious offences which couldn’t properly be described as driving offences.
Sentencing (New! Updated, 1 October 2012)
Sentencing in Magistrates’ Courts is governed by Her Majesty’s Court Service Sentencing Guidelines. You can find speeding at page 131, driving or attempting to drive with excess alcohol at page 124, drunk in charge at page 126 and no insurance at page 130. You can find a link to it here.