21 July 2022

Court “cracks down” on anti-speeding Police Commissioner for breaking speed limit

cars passing by on motoway

Nottinghamshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner who pledged to “crack down on speeding” has been banned from driving and handed a £2,450 fine.

Caroline Henry has been given a six-month driving ban (and a £2,450 fine) for breaking speed limits on five separate occasions between 17th March and 8th June 2021. This is somewhat ironic, given her pledge to ‘crack down on speeding’.

Whilst it could be argued that she did not break the speed limits “significantly” – 35mph, 40mph, 38 mph, 38mph and 35 mph in chronological offence order – it appears that it was the consistency of the breaking of the speed limits, some of which were in place near primary schools, which ultimately led to the ban being imposed, as this consistent disregard for the speed limits displayed a concerning disregard for safety.

What is a 'totting up ban?'

These five offences would have been ‘totted up’ to total more than 12 points and as such disqualification from driving, known as a ‘totting up ban', was the most likely outcome in any event – subject to a defence of exceptional hardship being successfully pleaded.

What is the exceptional hardship argument?

Her defence solicitor attempted to plead the defence of ‘exceptional hardship’, which if pleaded successfully, could have avoided the imposed driving ban. In simple terms, exceptional hardship means that the individual would suffer exceptional inconvenience or suffering, beyond what is deemed appropriate.

Mere inconvenience will not satisfy the exceptional hardship standard. Examples of circumstances which could be used to plead exceptional hardship are:

  • Not being able to drive means you will struggle to care for vulnerable dependents

  • A driving ban would cause you, your employees, or your dependents to lose their jobs

  • Not being able to drive would prevent you from providing essential community services

  • Where a driving ban would prevent you from seeking ongoing medical care

However, there are no fixed circumstances where the defence of exceptional hardship will be applied. Each case must be argued on its own merits to seek to persuade the court that exceptional hardship would be suffered in the event disqualification was imposed.

Caroline Henry’s defence solicitor argued that the defence of exceptional hardship should apply because Mrs Henry needed to drive to visit her child in hospital in Salisbury. The court refused to accept this argument, because her husband could drive her. It is therefore overwhelmingly apparent that the court takes a very strict view on the circumstances which could be pleaded as ‘exceptional hardship’.

Whilst the most obvious way to avoid disqualification via totting up is to comply with the appropriate speed limits, we understand that mistakes can be made, and are here to help.

Whether you need advice on the defence of exceptional hardship or simply want representation in court, our specialist motoring offence solicitors are here to help.

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