Totting Bans - Penalty Point Disqualifications and Exceptional Hardship

What is a totting ban?

The law says that when a driver gets to 12 penalty points in a three year period the Court must disqualify for a minimum period of 6 months. Drivers who get to this position are known as “totters”.

The three year period is calculated from the date the first offence was committed to the date the current one was committed. It is the date of the offence that matters and not the date of sentence.

You take the date upon which you committed the current offence and go back three years. If you have points for offences committed in that period which when added to you what you might get for the current one could take you to 12, you are at risk of being disqualified as a totter and need to prepare for that.

You will have to appear at a Magistrates Court. If you have been disqualified before as a totter the minimum period goes up to either 12 months or two years depending on the circumstances.

Magistrates Courts in England and Wales deal with thousands of motorists every year who face lengthy disqualifications which can have serious consequences for them, their loved ones and work colleagues. For most people the ability to drive is vital for very many aspects of life, both business and domestic, and the consequences of a disqualification for 6 months or more can be very damaging and very expensive.

It can be quite easy to get to 12 points. Four modest speeding offences with 3 points for each will do it, or two mobile phone offences of 6 points each. There are many combinations but the end result is the same.

Exceptional hardship

How can a totting ban be avoided?

There are essentially 4 ways that a totting ban can be avoided:

  1. Defend the charge against you - is the charge correct? Did you commit the offence? Is the evidence accurate?
  2. Persuade the court to give you a short, discretionary disqualification instead of points 
  3. Plead special reasons to avoid the application of penalty points for the offence.
  4. Successfully argue exceptional hardship

In the majority of cases its options 2 or 4 that will apply, but taking expert advice will confirm this. There are circumstances in which the court will be willing to give a short discretionary disqualification instead of points and these need to be identified and then properly argued. I can help you with this.

The motorist has to prove it by giving evidence and presenting supporting documents, and it will be for the court to decide whether what it has heard is good enough.

The court takes into account the effect on the driver, his/her family and anyone else who might be impacted. It could be a business partner or employees. Magistrates are more inclined to be swayed by evidence of exceptional hardship suffered by thirds parties and they need to be identified and the effect clearly stated.

I have found that Magistrates are getting tougher on motorists facing totting bans and are becoming more resistant to exceptional hardship arguments. Your case must be thoroughly and carefully prepared with good evidence from other people to support you.

Magistrates examine these cases and skill is knowing what they will ask and having everything covered. They can be challenging hearings and if you haven’t prepared properly you increase the chance of failure.

What might be the outcome of a totting ban hearing?

There are a number of possible outcomes:

  1. The magistrates agree that there is a convincing exceptional hardship argument and they agree not to disqualify you. In this instance, you will be able to continue to drive but the points will remain on your license.
  2. The magistrates accept exceptional hardship argument and decide to give you a shorter disqualification. In this case, you will serve a ban but the points will all be removed from your license. This, in fact, may be the best outcome for some drivers.
  3. Obviously, the worst case is that your arguments are not accepted and you will be banned for the at least the minimum period. In this case, the points will be removed from your license.

The disqualification starts straight away.

Are there any limits on exceptional circumstances defences?

Yes is the simple answer. If you argue it successfully, the law says you can’t use the same facts again for 3 years. For most people that means you have to be very careful indeed until enough points fall off your record.

I can help

I have successfully defended many clients facing totting bans. I have experience, skill and judgement in presenting such cases and know what evidence will be required. If you face a lengthy ban and want some initial free advice on how I can help please contact me.

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