In many driving cases people commit offences in circumstances that are really not their fault. This stems from the fact that the vast majority of driving offences are what lawyers call ‘strict liability’ offences. This means that you are guilty whether or not you actually meant to commit the offence.
This often means that defences for many road traffic offences are difficult to come by, even when the commission of the offence may be no fault of yours or when you have a very good excuse for doing what you did.
Luckily the law accounts for this and allows a ‘special reasons’ argument to be put forward where you may otherwise lose your driving licence.
What offences qualify for a special reasons argument?
Special reasons can apply to any motoring offence where you are at risk of losing your driving licence or having your driving licence endorsed with penalty points.
What is the difference between 'Special Reasons' and 'Exceptional Hardship'?
Special reasons relate to the offence itself not the person committing the offence. In an exceptional hardship argument the court will look at the circumstances of the offender and their dependants. They will then decide whether to endorse a driving licence with penalty points where someone faces a ban for having too many points on their licence.
What are special reasons? What is a special reasons argument?
Special reasons must meet the following criteria:
- They must not amount to a defence in law
- They must be reasons that the Court should validly take into account when deciding what sentence to pass upon a defendant- they cannot be irrelevancies
- They must relate directly to the commission of the offence in question- they do not relate to the offender
- The reason must be a mitigating circumstance- something that lessens the severity of the offence.
A special reasons argument means that you are still guilty of the offence in question but that you argue that there are ‘special reasons’ why you should not receive the normal punishment. If the Court accepts a Special Reasons argument it is able to
- impose no penalty points at all in cases where the punishment would normally involve points going on one’s licence
- in cases of disqualification impose penalty points instead of an outright ban
Special reasons – case studies
The following may amount to special reasons under the current state of the law:
- RH was accused of driving without insurance. He had borrowed a friend’s car and was told by his friend that he was insured to drive the car under his friend’s policy of insurance. In the circumstances there was no reason for RH to disbelieve his friend.
- AD was accused of drink driving. He was a nominated driver for others on an evening out to the pub. Without his knowledge witnesses saw a ‘friend’ spike his drinks taking him over the drink driving limit. He was later stopped by police and found to be over the limit.
WL was accused of drink driving. He was at a party where he intended to stay the night. Having consumed enough alcohol to take him over the drink driving limit he was asked to move his car which was blocking in another partygoer who needed to leave. He drove a very short distance before being noticed by police.
- YB was driving her car on the motorway when she was involved in an incident with another driver which led to the other driver pursuing her car in a fit of ‘road rage’. She genuinely feared for her safety and the safety of others on the road and exceeded the speed limit as a necessity to get away from her pursuer.
- HW was at a set of red traffic lights. She noticed an ambulance in the road behind her and ‘jumped’ the traffic lights in order to let the ambulance through believing there to be a medical emergency.
Special reasons and newly qualified drivers
Newly qualified drivers must be very careful when driving. Under current legislation if a newly qualified driver receives 6 or more penalty points within 2 years of passing their test their driving licence will be revoked.
In those circumstances an exceptional hardship argument is not available and the only recourse to the driver will be a special reasons argument.
New drivers- special reasons and no insurance- This is especially relevant in cases where the driver is accused of no insurance as the offence automatically carries a penalty of 6 points meaning that any new driver who is convicted of no insurance automatically faces losing their licence unless they can persuade the court that special reasons apply.
A Special Reasons argument is difficult to put across both factually and legally. In order to have the maximum prospect of success a client should seek to find an expert lawyer who has experience in seeing which arguments are likely to work in which circumstances.
Quentin Hunt a huge wealth of experience and a proven record of success in special reasons arguments. If you find yourself accused of a road traffic offence and want to explore the possibility of a special reasons argument contact Quentin for a no obligation conversation.
UK's premier Road Traffic Lawyer Quentin Hunt is offering a promotion on ‘Road and Traffic and Driving Offence’ cases. The community of London based ‘Licensed Private Hire Car & Taxi Operators’ will be entitled to the 15% discount available from Monday the beginning of March until the end of April 2015.