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disqualification from driving


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A ban from driving following conviction for a road traffic offence. It may be either obligatory or discretionary. Where a person is convicted of an offence involving obligatory disqualification, the court must order him to be disqualified for a minimum period of twelve months (s 34(1), Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988) in the absence of special reasons. There is no statutory maximum period of disqualification. The following offences carry obligatory disqualification: causing death by dangerous driving; dangerous driving; driving or attempting to drive when unfit through drink or drugs or with excess alcohol in breath, blood, or urine (see drunken driving); and failing to provide a specimen of breath, blood, or urine for analysis. If an offender is convicted of a second drunken driving offence within a ten year period then the minimum period of disqualification is increased to three years.

In the case of an offence carrying discretionary disqualification, the court may impose a disqualification, but is under no obligation to do so (s 34(2), Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988). There is no limit on the period of disqualification that may be imposed.

Many road traffic offences are endorsable; i.e. the court must order that the fact of conviction together with the number of penalty points applicable to the offence, are recorded on the offender's licence unless there are special reasons for not so doing (see also endorsement). Penalty points for the most important offences are as follows: three to eleven points: any offence involving obligatory disqualification for which disqualification was not ordered because of special reasons or mitigating circumstances; ten points: being in charge when unfit or with excess alcohol in the body (see drunken driving); failing to provide a specimen of breath; five to ten points: failing to stop after a road traffic accident; failing to report an accident; three to nine points: careless and inconsiderate driving; eight points: taking a conveyance; six to eight points: driving without insurance; seven points: driving while disqualified; four points: failing to provide a specimen for a preliminary breath test; three points: speeding (if a fixed penalty); leaving a car in a dangerous position (see obstruction); two points: driving without a licence; driving under age.If an offender accrues twelve penalty points or more in a three year period then he stands to be disqualified under the so‐called ‘totting‐up’ system (s 35, Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988). Such an offender must be disqualified for at least six months unless there are grounds for ‘mitigating the normal circumstances of the conviction’. Unlike special reasons, these need not be connected with the offence itself but may be personal to the offender, such as the hardship which disqualification would cause. If the offender has already been disqualified within the three years before the latest endorsable conviction, the minimum disqualification is for one year; if he has been disqualified more than once, the minimum is two years. Mitigating circumstances are still permitted (to prevent disqualification or shorten the period), but only upon proof of exceptional hardship. The effect of a disqualification under the penalty points procedure is to wipe the offender's licence clean. If he is subsequently convicted of a road traffic offence, previously endorsed points are not taken into consideration, but the fact of a penalty points disqualification is relevant to any future points disqualification. Under the Road Traffic (New Drivers) Act 1995, if a driver is convicted of an endorsable offence and accumulates six or more penalty points within two years of passing a driving test, his licence is revoked and he must retake the test.

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Subjects: Law.


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