It is commonly known that when a driver reaches 12 penalty points an automatic disqualification from driving will be imposed by the Court. Many drivers do not appreciate however that for first occasion a driver hits 12 penalty points the automatic driving ban is for a 6 month period. The driver has an opportunity to argue that any disqualification from driving should not be imposed where it will cause ‘exceptional hardship’. Evidence must be called to support an application for exceptional hardship.
When the court comes to calculate the penalty points it will consider the date upon which the preexisting points were imposed by the court rather than the date of the original offence. For example, if the speeding offence took 3 months to come to Court and be dealt with, this could inadvertently extend the relevant period upon which the penalty points remain upon your driving licence. This calculation is sometimes confusing – given that the loss of your driving licence could depend upon the number of penalty points already endorsed upon the driving licence, it is vital that the calculation is accurate.
It is always worthwhile checking the position and the relevant date with the DVLA. Since the paper counter part to the driving licence has been abolished, a driver can check his/her driving record on the DVLA website. This helpfully shows all the relevant information that the DVLA holds and, most importantly, the number of relevant penalty points. This information will also be the same information available to the Court.
Whilst the penalty points will be relevant for disqualification purposes for 3 years the points will physically remain upon your record at the DVLA for 4 years – it is important to check the terms and conditions of your car insurance regarding disclosure of convictions and penalty points, often failure to disclose both penalty points and motoring convictions can result in a policy of insurance being void when you come to make a claim. Be aware of this obligation.
If there is any doubt about the number of penalty points presently on your driving licence and the relevant date, it would be worth taking legal advice given the potential impact upon your driving licence.