Road Traffic

Keeping, Protecting and Defending your licence

At Austin & Carnley Solicitors we are aware of how important your driving licence is to you and the profound effect the loss of a licence can have on you and your family. The use by police of modern technology to assist in catching motorists has made this more likely than ever before. The modern motorist must be aware of mobile “speed-guns”, speed cameras, average speed checks, traffic light cameras and mobile patrols, not to mention random breathalyser checks.

Whether a driving ban entails the loss of employment in these difficult economic times or adds extra pressure and inconvenience to everyday life we are aware of the stresses this can cause. To help our team of specialist road traffic law solicitors have put together this short guide.

Types of disqualification

There are a myriad of modern motoring offences for drivers to contend with. Some will result in an obligatory ban such as dangerous driving, drink driving and failing to provide a specimen for analysis. Others give the court a discretion to impose a ban like driving without insurance and careless driving.

An individual may also lose their licence if they accumulate 12 penalty points in a 3 year period (this begins on the date the most recent offence was committed and includes points imposed for any offences committed in that period). This accumulation is known as “totting up” and the person concerned a “totter”. Offences for which points can be imposed include speeding and using a mobile phone.

New drivers should be aware that if they receive 6 penalty points in their first 2 years after passing their test their licence will be revoked and they must submit to a retest (both theory and practical).


There are three methods a motorist will be notified that they are to be prosecuted for a road traffic offence:

  • You will be warned this is a possibility at the time by a police officer; or

  • You will be charged or served with a  summons within 14 days of the offence; or

  • A notice of intended prosecution (NIP) will be sent to yourself or the registered keeper of the vehicle within 14 days.

You will be given a date to attend the Magistrates Court and will be expected to enter a plea on this occasion. A not guilty plea will result in your case being set down for trial in the Magistrates Court or sent to the Crown Court depending on the seriousness of the offence. A guilty plea may be dealt with on that occasion or may be adjourned so that a report can be prepared or sent to the Crown Court if it is a serious matter.

We recommend contacting a specialist road traffic solicitor well in advance of any court appearance.

Ways to avoid a disqualification

An obligatory and a discretionary ban can be avoided or reduced by arguing special reasons. A special reason is a mitigating or extenuating circumstance which does not amount to a defence in law but is directly connected with the commission of the offence. Successful arguments made have included ignorance of a medical condition, spiked drinks and driving in an emergency.

Where an individual has accumulated 12 penalty points in 3 years and is to be disqualified as a “totter” it is possible to make an exceptional hardship argument to avoid or reduce the ban.  It is accepted that hardship will result from the loss of a licence but you must prove to the court that the hardship in your case is “exceptional”. The court will take into account the hardship to be suffered by others such as family members or employees which would result from a disqualification. Whether “hardship” will be deemed “exceptional” is a question for the court to decide according to the unique circumstances of the case.

We suggest taking advice from a specialist motoring defence solicitor to assist in putting forward a special reason or exceptional hardship argument.  Even if you feel you do not have a special reason or exceptional hardship argument we can assist with putting forward other extenuating circumstances or mitigation to the court in an appropriate manner.

Already banned?

If you are the subject of a disqualification it is possible to appeal to the Crown Court against your conviction and sentence.  This should normally be done within 21 days of your conviction, however it is possible to appeal out of time. A member of our team would be happy to discuss this with you.

It is possible to apply to court to get your licence back early if banned. The time to apply will depend on the length of your original ban.

Length of ban                               Can apply for return

Less than 4 years                           After 2 years

4 – 10 years                                   At halfway point

10 years and over                          After 5 years

Remember the best way to avoid or mitigate a ban is to contact a solicitor as soon as possible.

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David Backhouse

David has Higher Rights of Audience which means he can represent Clients at the Crown Court as well as the Magistrates Court.

He undertakes Private and Legal Aid criminal cases including Road Traffic Offences. David qualified in 1997 and became Partner in 2010.

David is a Duty Solicitor on the Bedford Duty Solicitor Scheme, the Luton and Dunstable Duty Solicitor Scheme and the Milton Keynes Duty Solicitor Scheme.

Personal Assistant to Senior Partner, David Backhouse 

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Mary Donaghy

Mary trained with Austin and Carnley and qualified as a Solicitor in June 2010. She undertakes Private and Legal Aid criminal cases including Road Traffic Offences. Mary is also our Duty Solicitor on the Bedford Duty Solicitor Scheme, the Luton and Dunstable Duty Solicitor Scheme and the Milton Keynes Duty Solicitor Scheme.

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Legal Secretary

Susan Tompkins

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Jaclin Bastian

Jaclin qualified as a solicitor in 2004 when she worked for and was trained by David.

In 2009 Jaclin gained her Higher Rights of Audience enabling her to represent clients in the Crown Court. Jaclin undertakes Private and Legal Aid criminal cases including Road Traffic Offences.

Jaclin is a Duty Solicitor in Bedford, Luton & Dunstable and Milton Keynes.

Jaclin is a compassionate solicitor who, when preparing every case, tries to ensure that all clients’ feel that they are being listened to.

Kristina Richardson

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