Last month Ian Brown, the lead singer of band the Stone Roses, hit the headlines when news emerged that he had managed to avoid a driving ban by pleading ‘exceptional hardship’. Brown was caught travelling 37mph in a 30mph zone and therefore fell victim to the ‘totting up’ procedure, having previously been caught speeding twice in 2015 and once in 2013.
As a result of racking up 12 points within a 3-year period, he was faced with the prospect of a 6-month disqualification. It’s not the first time Brown has faced a ban due to speeding. In 2011 he was disqualified having been caught doing 93mph in a 40mph zone.
However, this time, his solicitor argued that Mr Brown’s elderly parents relied on him to do daily errands such as shopping. It was also raised that Brown, who is about to embark on a tour with his band, needed to get to rehearsals in a remote location. The judge ruled that this was sufficient enough to warrant ‘exceptional hardship’ and, instead of receiving another ban, Brown was given three penalty points and told to pay a total fine of £350.
Whilst a driving ban in the case of totting up is viewed as compulsory, it is also at the discretion of the Court. This raises the question of what qualifies as ‘exceptional’ hardship to the Courts.
When the defendant chooses to raise an ‘exceptional hardship’ argument, the Court would have to be convinced that the individual would suffer hardship beyond what is ‘reasonably foreseeable’ as a result of a six-month disqualification. This would have to go further than mere inconvenience and even beyond the loss of employment, as this could be seen as a foreseeable consequence.
Whilst loss of employment might count as a foreseen outcome, for many, this can be financially crippling. This rings especially true if you are self-employed worker, of which there is a substantially growing number across the UK. Many of us rely on our driving license to perform daily duties.
For example, for a self-employed tradesman a car might be critical to getting to clients at certain times of the evening. However, it isn’t the loss of employment that is seen as ‘exceptional’ by the Court, but the potential implications of it on personal finances and the effects that it might have on third parties.
In some cases, the loss of income could lead to severe consequences such as defaulting on a mortgage or even bankruptcy. In cases such as these, the effect on the individual and their family – or anyone who relies on them – would be significant.
As those immediately affected are innocent of any wrongdoing, they would be suffering as a direct result of the driver’s ban and this is something that the court would be likely to view as ‘exceptional’ hardship. This appears to be the situation in the case of Ian Brown, whose elderly parents would suffer as a direct result of his ban.
George Lewzey, specialist Criminal Defence Solicitor at Giles Wilson, has a wealth of experience defending individuals whose lives would be changed irrevocably if they were to face a driving ban. If you would like to receive reliable advice from experienced driving offence solicitors, get in touch with our offices on 01702 477106.