Special Reasons Arguments to Not Disqualify or Give Points
Special Reasons is a principle which says that with certain driving offences, even if someone is technically guilty of an offence, the court may still not impose a ban, even for an offence like drink driving, where a ban is usually mandatory.
If a defendant can prove that he or she had an unusual circumstance which meant that even though he or she committed the offence, he or she should not be disqualified from driving or receive points.
The legal argument must be directly connected with the commission of the offence and one which the court should to take into consideration when imposing punishment.
A circumstance that relates to the offender as opposed to the commissioning of the offence does not satisfy the definition. So losing one’s job or not being able to look after a sick relative if given a driving ban does not count.
A Special Reasons Argument can apply to the following groups of offence:
- Insurance offences
- Alcohol related offences
- Speeding offences
- Offences of not obeying road signs or traffic lights
The law allows the court to exercise discretion in not disqualifying a motorist, or prevents the imposition of penalty points on a motorist. It is a discretion and not a duty. This means that the court can decide to find Special Reasons but still disqualify.
Examples of Special Reasons arguments might include:
- Driving someone to hospital while over the alcohol limit
- Driving to rescue a person from a danger and speeding to get there
- Driving whilst over the limit after your drinks have been €œspiked€ or laced
For the first and second examples above, the driver must usually feel that there is a genuine exceptional situation which cannot be solved by other means. So if someone else could have driven the ill person in the first example, then Special reasons are less likely to be accepted, and a ban could follow.
With laced or spiked drinks, it must be shown that if the drinks had not been laced, the defendant would have been under the limit. In nearly all cases, this has to be proven with medical evidence from an expert in alcohol calculations. Our motoring lawyers have access to some of the few expert toxicologists in the UK who mainly specialise in breath and blood alcohol readings.
A court will not allow a Special Reasons argument to succeed where the fact that the defendant was driving was not proportionate to the need to break the law. The court will also bear in mind, among other things, the driving conditions, the state of the vehicle being driven, the length of the journey, and, in alcohol cases, whether a sober person at the scene would have recommended driving. In non-emergency cases, or in situations where the Special Reason involves some type of mistake or error in understanding, the reasonableness of that mistake will be tested thoroughly by the prosecution, and examined closely by the magistrates.
The defence lawyer must make sure that any weak parts of the case are throughly prepared well in advance so that the prosecution lawyer in cross examination cannot do as much damage to an unprepared defendant. The client must have been asked every question by the defence lawyer in preparation that the prosecutor could ask at court.
So, to summarise, a Special Reasons argument must be:
- To do with the events, and not to do with the personal situation of the defendant.
- A good reason why someone should not be disqualified.
- Something done that was at the time and is in hindsight now a reasonable thing to do, considering all the circumstances.