A definition of exceptional hardship and the circumstances a court will consider when making a decision

Exceptional hardship is widely regarded as hardship that is more than ordinary, says Milton Keynes crime and regulatory solicitor Mike Hayward. Read Mike's blog post below or watch the short video. 

Some would say that losing a driving licence, which is one of people’s most treasured possessions, is exceptional hardship. But any disqualification is going to cause hardship for you, for example, in getting to the shops or being unable to get to work.


But it has to be shown to be more than ordinary and that it is not just you as the offender who is going to be caused hardship, but others around you - your family, your work employees, and people who rely on you for your job.

It is that that makes it ‘exceptional’, and the bar to prove that in the court is very high. Everybody is going to be caused ordinary hardship, but it has to be greater than that. And for that reason, the test of exceptional hardship is certainly getting greater - it has to be something that is out of the ordinary.

What type of circumstances will the court take into account?

The court will take into account the particular facts of every individual matter. While they don’t necessarily have any regard for the actual offending itself, it can be argued that if you have accrued a number of points over a very short space of time, that will be considered. But they are really looking at the particular circumstances surrounding the offender who is before the court and whether those circumstances attributed to you will have such an impact on you that you should be entitled to keep your driving licence.

They will be looking carefully at your work, the people who rely on you, and if you are an individual who needs to be on the road. They will consider if you have another job and if you are going to lose your job. Is that going to have an impact on your ability to pay your domestic bills and keep your mortgage going. So they will look at your personal circumstances such as how do you get your children to school, how you get to work on a daily basis if you have difficulties with public transport links.

So they look at all of those circumstances. But again, it must be to an exceptional level for the court to very carefully explore if there is any alternative available to you before making the decision that you shouldn’t be disqualified from driving, because their starting point is that you should be disqualified.

If you face losing your driving licence for a road traffic offence, and need advice, please contact crime and regulatory solicitor Mike Hayward in Milton Keynes.