A leading solicitor who deals with transport matters has spoken out in support of the system currently in place that allows motorists who have received 12 points on their licence to carry on driving if losing their licence will result in exceptional financial hardship.
Anton Balkitis who works for the Nottinghambased law firm Rothera Dowson, has said that on the whole, decisions made by magistrates were fair and this is a much more flexible way to punish drivers rather than following the law to the letter.
His comments come in the wake of a study that was currently undertaken by the insurers Direct Line and Brake, the road safety charity. This study claims that over 10,000 UK drivers have avoided a disqualification, but Mr Balkitis says that every case in different and has to be judged on its own merits, rather than a blanket law that doesn’t take individual situations into account.
The survey also suggested that the number of drivers who have escaped the ban means that the concept of the hardship being ‘exceptional’ was being stretched.
He added: “Depending on the degree, hardship to the offender’s friends and family may more readily be regarded as Exceptional Hardship than hardship to the offender himself. Those people are innocent whereas the offender is not. As a percentage of people holding a UK driving licence, the 10,000 cases highlighted are a very insignificant number indeed.”
Mr Balkitis also explained how the vast majority of drivers could reach the maximum number of points and face a disproportionate punishment, simply through unfortunate circumstances.
“For instance, a motorist caught driving at 36mph within a 30mph restriction may, by administrative error, fail to name the driver at the time of the offence. Suddenly that driver is going to be faced with nine points in one foul swoop. Having received three points for a minor traffic offence two and a half years ago, the Magistrates must disqualify for a minimum period of six months. In the absence of any formal direction for such a situation being incorporated into law, it seems the Exceptional Hardship plea remains the most reliable way to ensure each case is judged individually.”
Anton Balkitis was recently named as a leader in his field in the Chambers and Partners UK Guide – a long-standing publication that recognises the country’s leading lawyers and law firms. The prestigious Legal 500 Guide also named Rothera Dowson’s Road Transport department as “the best in the country”.
For more information or legal advice on pleading Exceptional Hardship, contact Rothera Dowson solicitors on 0800 046 3066 or visit www.rotheradowson.co.uk. Motoring legal advice can also be found on Anton Balkitis’s blog at www.keepmeontheroad.co.uk.