Special Reasons in Driving Offence Cases
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Special Reasons – The Basics
Some more serious driving offences carry a mandatory driving ban unless special reasons exist. Examples include drink driving, dangerous driving and drug driving.
Most other driving offences carry penalty points. If you are convicted, the court must impose a minimum number of points.
Special reasons do not automatically enable you to escape disqualification or endorsement.
Where special reasons are found it means that the court has the discretion to:
- not impose penalty points,
- disqualify you for a shorter period,
- not disqualify you at all.
Special Reasons are not a defence
A special reason is not the same as a defence. For this reason, if you were intending to put forward special reasons, you would normally be accepting that the offence was committed.
You would enter a guilty plea but inform the court of your intention to put forward special reasons.
There are exceptions to this where for example you intend to put forward an argument which could constitute both a defence or a special reason such as emergency (necessity or duress of circumstance).
What are Special Reasons?
It is important to remember that special reasons must relate to the commission of the offence itself and not the individual’s own circumstances. This means that financial hardship or previous good character cannot be used as a special reason.
It is important that you understand the law before attempting to put forward an argument as you’ll only get one chance. Yes, you can appeal, but the reality is appearing in the Crown Court is a far more daunting and potentially costly experience than getting it the right first time in the Magistrates’ Court.
You’ll need to give evidence on oath when presenting your case and may need to provide documentary evidence to support your case.
Examples of special reasons
- Driving a short distance
- Being misled into committing the offence
- Having your drinks spiked
- Driving in an emergency (may also be a defence)
- Obscured road signage
You should not rely on these examples without ensuring you understand the law in full.
Special Reasons Summary
To amount to a “special reason” a matter must:
- a mitigating or extenuating circumstance;
- not amount in law to a defence to the charge;
- be directly connected with the commission of the offence; and
- be one which the court ought properly to take into consideration when imposing sentence.
What we do
If you think you may have a special reasons argument and need advice, we can help. Speak to us if you think there are special circumstances that the court should take into account. We can advise you on how to prepare for court and give yourself the best chance of success.
Magistrates' Court Hearings
We can represent you at a special reasons hearing. The hearing itself is similar to a trial and you will have to give evidence.
Our solicitors only deal with motoring offences so you will get the best advice. If you have an upcoming Magistrates’ Court hearing and need representation or advice on preparation, let us help.
Driving Offence Special Reasons FAQs
Will I have to go to court?
Yes. The burden is on you to establish special reasons.
You will need to give evidence to explain to the court why special reasons exist and why the court should exercise its discretion.
What happens at a special reasons hearing?
The hearing will be similar to a trial. This means you’ll have to give evidence on oath and face cross-examination by a prosecutor as well as questions from the Magistrates.
For these reasons, it’s important to be prepared
How do I argue Special Reasons?
You will need to put the court on notice that you intend to argue special reasons. The court will usually want to know the basis of your special reasons argument. It is also important to consider whether you will need any prosecution or defence witnesses to give evidence in support of your case. Usually, the court will require you to state which facts are and are not in dispute. This is often done at a Case Management hearing and the matter will then be listed for a full hearing some weeks thereafter.
Do I need to take witnesses to court?
It depends what the basis of your argument is. Witnesses can be helpful, but they can also harm your case if they say something unexpected in the witness box.
Your solicitor should take a detailed statement from them beforehand so they know roughly what the witness’s evidence will be.
If the court finds special reasons, will there be no penalty?
If the court finds special reasons, it gives them the discretion not to disqualify or endorse a licence. If the court doesn’t feel it is appropriate, it can choose not to exercise its discretion.
Note that the court may still impose a financial penalty and prosecution costs even if the argument is successful.
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