Many driving offences result in a mandatory ban, so even if your livelihood is dependent on your being able to drive, the court will still impose a disqualification, despite pleas for leniency.
Sometimes defendants can instruct a solicitor, such as the experts from drinkdrivesolicitor.com, to argue exceptional hardship to try and persuade a Court not to disqualify someone is at risk of a so-called “totting-up” ban. However, this differs from special reasons which must be related to circumstances surrounding the offence rather than your wider personal circumstances.
If you present special reasons and they are accepted, the court may decide to impose penalty points instead of a ban, or to impose fewer or no penalty points if the offence warranted points. You would still be found guilty, but your special reasons would mean you would not be subject to the usual penalties for the offence.
Special reasons can be applied to any offence, not just driving offences, but they have to meet these criteria:
- They must be mitigating or extenuating circumstances;
- They do not amount to a defence;
- They must be related to the commission of the offence, and
- They must be reasons that a court can properly take into account when deciding upon punishment.
Normally it is for the prosecution to prove its case but where special reasons are being argued it is for the person putting them forward to prove that it is more likely than not that they apply. Common examples include:
If a spiked drink has taken you over the limit and you can prove it, you may be able to argue for a reduced punishment. However, it’s not a reliable or easy reason to use and it may be best to disregard it as there are sounder legal reasons that will get better results.
More and more people suffer from acid reflux or oesophageal reflux, when stomach contents are regurgitated. If someone is a sufferer, it’s possible that alcohol could be regurgitated into the mouth just prior to a breath test. This can cause inaccurately high readings on breath tests which are not properly representative of the amount of alcohol in the body, taking a reading over the legal limit.
However, for someone to be charged with drink driving, two breath specimens are needed as evidence, so both specimens will need to be examined by the court if this reason is used.
To succeed with this special reason, the person should have drunk insufficient alcohol to produce a “failing” breath specimen and mouth alcohol must have been present. The regurgitated alcohol must have taken readings over the limit.
Shortness of distance
The driver travelled a very short distance while over the limit (anything over 100 yards would normally be too far). Distance is only one factor considered by the court, however, as it will also want to know what the reason for driving was, how the vehicle was driven, whether it was in a good state of repair and whether the driver intended to travel further. It will also examine weather and traffic conditions, the reason for driving and whether the car was likely to encounter other vehicles or pedestrians.
This reason only really counts if you had no chance to call the emergency services instead of driving yourself – either over the speed limit or over the alcohol limit. If there were other alternatives other than driving then it is probably not worth arguing special reasons.