Motoring offences: What is exceptional hardship?

Kang & Co Solicitors

Exceptional Hardship is an application which is put before the Magistrates’ Court to avoid a driving ban due to accumulating 12 or more penalty points on a driving licence within a three-year period. If successful, the Court has the discretion not to impose a ban at all or impose a shorter disqualification.

When Can You Raise Exceptional Hardship?

Exceptional Hardship can only be raised in driving offence cases which relate to accumulating too many penalty points within a three-year period. It can be raised in cases where motorists already have points, and the penalty points for the new offence would either result in a total of 12 or more points being endorsed.


You cannot raise exceptional hardship to avoid a disqualification following the conviction for offences where disqualification is compulsory, such as drink driving or dangerous driving. 

Penalty Points Driving Ban

If you already have points on your licence and the new motoring offence will take you up to 12 points, you will be called to attend Court, even if the new offence is not a very serious one, this is because the Court must disqualify you for a minimum of 6 months.

If you raise exceptional hardship and are successful, the points will still be added to your driving licence however, you can avoid the driving ban.


The Court will accept that anyone who is banned from driving will suffer some hardship and inconvenience. This alone will not enable a disqualification to be reduced or avoided. The Court must be satisfied that any hardship caused as a result of the ban will be “exceptional”. 

Definition of ‘Exceptional Hardship’

There is no set definition of exactly what ‘Exceptional Hardship’ is, because the Court must be given the discretion to assess each case on its own merits, because each application is unique to the Defendants personal and financial circumstances.

Examples of Exceptional Hardship

Below are some general examples of what the Court may accept as exceptional hardship:

  • Loss of employment: if you rely upon driving as part of your work and have financial dependents who would have their standard of living significantly reduced, because you are no longer able to contribute financially;
  • Mortgage default: If you are likely to lose your home because of the disqualification;
  • Impact on others: if you own your own business and a ban would have a negative impact upon your employees, for example having to reduce their hours or dismiss members of staff because of cashflow problems;
  • Caring for others: If you care for elderly or disabled relatives and a driving licence is essential for you to be able to continue providing care and assistance, and a ban would cause hardship to the person you care for

Should You Raise Exceptional Hardship?

If you have been called to Court because you have too many points on your driving licence, it is important to appreciate that you will be banned for a minimum of 6 months, unless exceptional hardship is raised and accepted.

There is no negative in raising the application, because the default position is that you will receive a ban of at least 6 months. If you raise exceptional hardship, there is a possibility that you may avoid the ban.

You should appoint a specialist lawyer early on so that you have the best possible chance of being successful.

Preparing an Exceptional Hardship case

At Kang & Co Solicitors, our lawyers often observe that a successful exceptional hardship argument requires substantial preparation combined with compelling and robust representation in Court.

All relevant evidence relating to the individual grounds should be gathered and you should be fully prepared to answer questions during cross examination from the prosecution and any questions the Court may have regarding the application.  

If you find yourself facing a ban and require representation in Court from Kang & Co Solicitors, please call us on 0345 222 9955 or visit our website.

Manjinder Kang
Kang & Co Solicitors