LEGAL EAGLE: Seeking ‘special reasons’ not to impose driving penalty points

Q: I recently had to go to court about driving without insurance. I explained that I had thought the insurance was all sorted and in place, but it turns out it wasn’t. The court said I should get legal advice as if I pleaded guilty I wouldn’t be able to drive again for a while. I only have three points on my licence from last year for speeding so I don’t understand how that would be the case?

By Andrew Freckleton
Tuesday, 12th July 2022, 6:00 pm
Drivers are urged to get legal advice if they are being prosecuted for having no insurance when they were led to believe it had been sorted.
Drivers are urged to get legal advice if they are being prosecuted for having no insurance when they were led to believe it had been sorted.

A: Generally for driving without insurance the court must endorse your licence with at least six points. This would take you to nine points and disqualification.

However, for this offence (as with any where the court must impose penalty points) the court also has the discretion to disqualify you from driving rather than imposing points. This should normally only happen where for some reason the court considers the case to warrant it e.g. previous convictions for the same offence or something about the circumstances of this offence making it more serious. If that happened you would be disqualified from driving for the period of time the court directed and must not drive in breach of that disqualification. If you did so that would be a criminal offence for which you could receive a custodial sentence.

For ‘new drivers’, if you accumulate more than six penalty points in the two years following the first time you pass your test then the court must refer your case to the DVLA who should then revoke your licence. This means that you can reapply for your provisional licence but you cannot hold a full driving licence until you have again passed your driving test. In the meantime you can only drive in accordance with the rules for provisional licence holders. Depending on when you passed your test this may be what the court meant about you not being able to drive for a while.

It may be worth exploring whether you could argue that there are what are known as “special reasons” not to impose the normal amount/any penalty points/disqualification. Here, although you would plead guilty to the offence, there is a hearing where the court considers why you came to drive without insurance. If you were genuinely misled into believing you were insured, and particularly if you have supporting evidence, the court may find you have special reasons and exercise their discretion not to impose points or less than normal.

I don’t know all of the details or precisely what was said at court, but I think it would be worth seeing a solicitor to explore your options. To discuss further please contact Ben Hoare Bell LLP solicitors on 0191 565 3112 or email [email protected]. Visit www.benhoarebell.co.uk for further information.