We are often asked to give our views on motoring stories, this story caught the eye of the press yesterday and we were invited onto a morning chat show on BBC Radio Wales to discuss totting up.
The issue here is that the law says that you should be banned from driving for a minimum of 6 months when you reach 12 points, this is the totting procedure.
We act for a lot of people who fall to be disqualified under the totting up provisions. If we can show that you would suffer exceptional hardship then the court will let you keep your licence.
We have a fantastic track record for these exceptional hardship applications and have only ever lost 2 cases (they still hurt even now!).
The press have got behind this story and have been questioning whether it is right that someone with 42 points on their licence should still be driving. We were asked this question and our response was ‘It depends’.
Lets be clear, if someone has 42 points because he or she is constantly speeding then they should be banned but most cases are not like that.
We have acted for people on exceptional hardship applications when they have faced 42 points. The scenario here was that he was as lorry driver who left his job. Someone else drove the lorry he used to drive and drove it badly by the looks of it because the driver racked up 7 speeding tickets in a week. The company received the notices of intended prosecution and indicated that our client was driving. He denied it but having since left the company they were not helping. They were a foreign based company and we could not get any co operation from them.
He was unable to name the driver and did not respond to the requests. He then faced 7 charges of failing to disclose the drivers details (just like the woman in the story above). They would have totaled 42 points but we persuaded the CPS to drop the charges. The court refunded his costs and even awarded him money to cover his travel from Scotland, hotel expenses and an allowance for meals whilst he was here! Now that’s what I call a good result!! Had we not been able to do this he would have argued that he would suffer exceptional hardship because he would lose his job. We have no doubt we would have won and he would then have been one of the drivers demonised for driving with 42 points.
The totting up provisions can produce very harsh results. The vast majority of people who get to 12 points have not been exceeding the speed limit by a high margin. The public perception of people driving around like maniacs and reaching 12 points is wrong.If someone exceeds the speed limit by a high amount then they are banned and do not get points so totting up does not become an issue.
It is very easy to criticise drivers getting 12 points if all you do is drive to and from work and pop to the supermarket once a week. A lot of drivers who fall foul of totting up drive considerable distances for work, up to 50,000 miles a year often in areas that they are not familiar with. They may make mistakes about the speed limit and get caught doing 36 in a 30 thinking it was a 40 for example. The consequences of being banned for 6 months can be devastating for a family, they could lose their job, their house and all that follows. It is right that the court allows them a further chance if they think that the circumstances merit it.
It is ironic that if someone is caught breaking into someones house or beating someone up then they may be ordered to do community service. The probation service are obliged to take into account someones job when setting the times they have to perform community service so that the job is not risked. Get caught speeding a few times and the very punishment leads to a loss of job. Have we really got our priorities right?