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Applying to the Magistrates' Court to Reduce your Driving Disqualification Term
Being disqualified from driving can severely limit your life in many ways and, beyond the inconvenience of being unable to drive, reobtaining your licence may be of critical importance. For example, you may have been prevented from taking up employment opportunities due to your ban; you may need to drive because you are a carer for a family member; or maybe you have a disability that makes driving your only available method of transportation.
Fortunately, there may be a way for you to reduce the term of your driving disqualification, enabling you to get back on the road faster than you originally thought.
The process involves applying to the Magistrates’ Court during the term of disqualification to request that the term be shortened. Here, we outline the process, including what kind of reasons the court will require before accepting your request. Our expert driving offence solicitors regularly handle applications to the Magistrates’ Court for reductions in driving disqualifications, so contact us if you would like tailored advice about whether this might be the right option for you.
When can you apply to get your driving disqualification reduced?
You cannot apply to have the term of your disqualification reduced as soon as you receive the ban. You must wait a certain amount of time which varies depending on how long you have been banned for. You can apply to court after you have been disqualified from driving for:
- 2 years – if your original disqualification was for less than 4 years
- Half your disqualification term – if your original disqualification was between 4 and 10 years
- 5 years – if your original disqualification was 10 years or more
If your driving ban was for less than 2 years, the court will not hear an application to reduce it and you will need to serve the whole term.
When will the court reduce your driving disqualification term?
You need a very good reason for the court to consider reducing your driving disqualification term. Under the law (section 42 of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988), the court has wide discretion to take into account any relevant factors they see fit, including:
- The character of the person disqualified and his conduct subsequent to the order
- The nature of the offence, and
- Any other circumstances of the case
Acceptable reasons may include:
- There were reasons behind why you committed the driving offence that the court did not consider
- You are being prevented from obtaining employment
- You cannot get a promotion at work
- You need to assist family members who require care and extra support
- You want to take part in charitable work
- You need to visit family members, such as children, who live far away
- You need to drive due to personal mobility issues
You will need to set out your reasons for getting the disqualification period reduced in writing and submit it to court along with any evidence to support your case.
The court will consider all the information and supporting documents and make a decision about whether to reduce your ban. If it accepts your reasons, the court can lift the ban immediately or on a specific date in the future. They will tell the DVLA that the ban has been lifted but you will still need to reapply for your driving licence (you can do this during the disqualification period so you can start driving again as soon as the ban is lifted). Depending on the offence committed and the length of time you have been driving, you may need to retake your driving test.
If the court does not accept your reasons, you must wait at least 3 months before applying again.
Will you have to go to court?
Yes, there will be a hearing to consider your application and it is always a good idea that you attend. Having a specialist driving offences solicitor by your side is also beneficial as they can explain the proceedings and make representations on your behalf to help persuade the Magistrates or Judge in your favour.
What is the difference between an application to reduce your disqualification and an appeal?
If you believe that you were wrongly convicted of a driving offence or that the sentence is too harsh (e.g. the ban is too long), you may be able to appeal your ban to the Crown Court as soon as you are convicted rather than accepting the ban and waiting until you can apply to have it reduced. You must make your appeal within 21 days of your sentencing. If your appeal is successful, the court may overturn your conviction or send the case back to the Magistrates’ Court for another hearing.
Conversely, if you have been correctly convicted of a driving offence and the sentence is not too harsh, but there are very good reasons why your ban should be reduced, you should make an application to reduce your disqualification.
If you appeal your sentence, this does not prevent you from applying to reduce your ban later on. However, it is important to seek legal advice about whether an appeal is likely to be successful.
Do you need advice about applying to reduce the term of your driving disqualification?
Renshaw Derrick is a specialist criminal defence firm with particular expertise in driving and motoring offences. We will take all possible steps to get you back on the road.
Based in Bournemouth, we are one of the leading firms of criminal defence solicitors in Dorset and the surrounding areas. With over 20 years’ advising individuals about driving offences, we are confident that we can help you achieve the best possible outcome.