What Are The Special Reasons To Avoid Disqualification?
Special reasons are relevant if you are convicted of a road traffic offence which has a penalty of disqualification, or obligatory endorsement. Although special reasons are not technically a defence, they can significantly reduce the sentence you receive and can mean that you avoid a driving ban.
- Imposed for serious offences such as dangerous driving or drink driving.
- The court must disqualify for a period of at least 12 months (more if you have a similar previous conviction, or if the offence is particularly serious one).
- The court may shorten the period of disqualification or remove it altogether if it considers that there are “special reasons” to do so.
- Imposed for a range of offences, including speeding, using a mobile phone, not having insurance, as well as more serious offences where disqualification can also be imposed.
- The court may impose anything up to 11 penalty points.
- If the court thinks that there are “special reasons” for doing so, they will decide not to endorse your licence (it cannot reduce the number of points it imposes).
Special reasons can only relate to the facts and circumstances of the offence itself, such as the reason why it was committed. Your personal circumstances, for example the effect that the disqualification/endorsement will have on you or others, or the fact that the offence was “trivial” (for example if you only slightly exceeded the speed limit) do not count as special reasons.
Examples of special reasons
If you can show that you committed the offence only because of a medical emergency, then this will amount to a special reason. However, the emergency must be genuine and unforeseen. You must also show that you drove only as a last resort: you must have exhausted all other possibilities of dealing with the emergency, including contacting the emergency services. For example, if a driver who lived in a rural area drove (whilst over the legal limit) to take his seriously sick child to hospital because no ambulance was available, then this would probably amount to a special reason for not disqualifying.
Whether the fact that you only drove for a short distance amounts to a special reason depends on the whole circumstances of the incident. The law is complex in this area, but what is clear is that the distance must be very short indeed, and the court will carefully consider any danger that you posed to the public.
For offences involving alcohol, it will not be a special reason if you did not realise how much you drank. But if you don’t know that you are drinking alcohol (for example, if you are served regular beers when you asked for alcohol-free ones), or you don’t realise how alcoholic your drink is (for example, if someone “spiked” your pint with shots of tequila), then a special reason might be established if it was obvious that the unadulterated drink would not have put you over the legal limit.