If you accumulate 12 or more penalty points on your licence for offences that occur within a 3 year period (often referred to as “totting up”) then you will be subject to consideration of a disqualification from driving.

Usually it is for 6 months but there are circumstances which could lead to it being longer, for example if you have been disqualified for longer than 56 days in the three year period before the date of the most recent offence in which case it is likely to be 12 months. If you have more than one previous disqualification of longer than 56 days in the same period the totting up disqualification would most likely be for two years.

For the purposes of totting up they stay on your licence for 3 years from the date of the offence but will remain visible on your driver record for 4 years. Insurance companies require disclosure of penalty points for 5 years from the date of the offence and will take them into account when calculating the cost of your premium for the same period?

Previously all penalty points were endorsed on a paper licence issued by the DVLA but this is no longer the case. All points are now recorded on your electronic driver record which can be accessed at www.gov.uk/view-driving-licence. You will need your driving licence number and National Insurance number (if you have one) to access your record.

This depends on how many points are being offered for the alleged offence. Fixed penalties are either for 3 or 6 points. If the conditional offer is for 3 points, as is commonly the case for speeding and minor careless driving offences, then you may accept it as you can still drive with 9 penalty points on your licence. If the Offer is for 6 points it would not be open for you to accept a further 6 points as this would result in you being eligible for a possible totting up disqualification.

No, a fixed penalty cannot be accepted in this situation as the matter must proceed to Court in order for possible consideration of disqualification under totting up.

This may be because the police did not have access to your driver record when the fixed penalty was offered. However, once the police become aware of the existing points on your licence the case will be referred to a Magistrates’ Court.

Unfortunately yes as the Court will take into account the points which applied at the time of the alleged offence and not at the time of the hearing.

If you have 6 points on your licence and the speed was too high for you to be offered a fixed penalty it may be possible to persuade the Court to impose 4 or 5 points on your licence so that you do not reach 12 points. It may even possible to avoid any points by pleading not guilty to the charge as there are often legitimate defences available to speeding and other motoring offences which could attract penalty points.

First of all you need to decide whether to contest the charge or plead guilty. If you plead guilty then the only way you can avoid disqualification is arguing that exceptional hardship would be caused by it. If you plead not guilty then you could avoid conviction altogether but in the event that you are found guilty you can still submit an exceptional hardship argument.

There is no clear legal definition of exceptional hardship. As a general rule however it is not merely hardship in being disqualified (which everyone would suffer as a result of a penalty points disqualification) but something “exceptional.” If there are other people who would be affected by the imposition of a disqualification, for example children or elderly relatives who rely on you this will give you a better chance of success than if it is you alone who would suffer as a result of a disqualification. If it is only you who would be affected by a disqualification, this does not mean that the argument will not succeed, but it is important that you are able to explain why the hardship is different to the type that would be suffered to other drivers if they were to be disqualified.

In theory, when considering an exceptional hardship argument the Court cannot take into consideration any factors intended to make the offences less serious. In other words it is supposed to consider the effect of the disqualification only when deciding whether there is exceptional hardship and not how you reached 12 penalty points. In practice however, a Court cannot help but feel more sympathy to a driver whose points were endorsed as a result of less serious speeding offences all spread out over a long period than someone who has a long history of points for a variety of different offences.

If the Court finds that exceptional hardship does apply to your case it can either impose no penalty points disqualification or disqualify for a shorter period that the normal minimum period of 6 months. If the Court decides to impose no penalty points disqualification then the penalty points on your driving licence will continue to apply, meaning you may still be at risk should you commit further offences.

You may enter your plea by post initially but if disqualification is being considered the Court will adjourn your case for you to attend in person. If you do not attend the adjourned hearing then the Court could disqualify you in absences so it is essential that you do so.

Should you commit a further offence within 3 years which results in you appearing before a Court again with 12 or more penalty points on your licence, you will be unable to rely on the same circumstances relied upon previously to avoid a totting up disqualification. To be successful, you must show that the circumstances relied upon are different in nature to those put forward previously.

Unless a Court finds exceptional hardship it is 12 but the Court can still decide not to disqualify on the basis of exceptional hardship regardless of the number of points on your licence.

If a totting up disqualification is imposed then the points are wiped clean from your licence after it has ended and you successfully apply for a new licence.

If the Court finds grounds not to disqualify you the penalty points remain on your licence as before, meaning they could still result in you being subject to a totting up ban in the future. In that sense, a Court finding exceptional hardship is similar to a suspended disqualification as further offences could result in it being activated at a later date.

Since 2011, 92% of our clients who had 12 or more penalty points were able to continue driving.