Early Removal of Disqualification
It is not widely known that the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 allows someone to make an application to the court for the early removal of their disqualification. Before this can be done certain conditions must be satisfied.
- Firstly, if the period of disqualification ordered by the court is less than four years, no application can be made until two years have expired.
- Secondly, if the period of disqualification is between four and 10 years, the driver must have served half that period.
- Thirdly, if the disqualification is for more than 10 years, then five years must have expired before an application can be made.
Periods of disqualification may be imposed for a variety of offences, and the courts will draw a distinction between drivers who have been disqualified pursuant to a discretionary power to do so, and those who have been subject to mandatory disqualification. Those convicted of drink-driving most commonly face mandatory lengthy periods and probably form the subject matter of most applications for the early removal of disqualification. They face a more difficult challenge because mandatory periods of 3 years or more usually apply to a driver convicted for the second time in 10 years.
However, where for example a driver has been disqualified for up to 4 years for a second drink drive offence in 10 years, the Court will look at an application seriously if the driver can show his life has changed and he has learned from earlier mistakes. Character evidence can be very valuable.
The procedure requires an application to be made in writing to the Magistrates’ Court that imposed the sentence, describing the disqualification and explaining the reason you want it removed. The Court will serve it on the police and list it for hearing. The police have the right to attend that and to oppose it, but they usually just leave it to the Court to decide.
When hearing the application, the Court will attach particular weight to your character and conduct since the sentence was imposed, and to the nature of the offence itself. Good quality character evidence is vital and can be obtained from family, friends and employers. You will have to give evidence and the Court has the right to question you.
If the application is allowed the court can remove the disqualification either from the date of the hearing or from some future date. It is more common for the Court to remove it from a future date, particularly if the application is made straight after the two year period is up.
If you want to consider making an application, get in touch with me and I will guide you through the procedure, help prepare the character and other evidence and deal with the hearing itself. You should expect the police to oppose such applications and so the hearings are not straightforward.