Losing your driving licence can be devastating and while you know you were in the wrong to break the speed limit, your life, and that of your family, may be severely affected if you can’t drive for a period of time. If you aren’t fighting the conviction, you need to look at ways to lessen the punishment and pleading exceptional hardship is one way.
A word of warning
There are many exceptional hardship letter templates online and you may think this is a better alternative to engaging a lawyer. However, you need expert help here, not someone else’s work! Avoid templates and concentrate on your offence and circumstances – you need to be able to answer questions in court about you, not someone else.
If you and your lawyers decide to plead exceptional hardship then you need to be prepared because you’ll be questioned in court.
You’ll have to answer questions from the prosecution, especially if you’re arguing that you’ll lose your job if you can’t get to work. Prosecutors will ask if you could use public transport or a cab instead, if someone else could drive you and your family about, if your company could engage a driver for you and if you’ll definitely lose your job if you’re disqualified.
You’ll need written proof of evidence here, as this is more effective than spoken testimony in court. Your proof should be factual and to the point, with no emotional phrases or profuse apologies. The sentences should be short – bullet points are useful. They should also be true and accurate.
Good examples of grounds for exceptional hardship include:
- job loss;
- inability to pay bills and mortgage as a result of job loss;
- inability to help or visit vulnerable family members, and
- the inability to perform community or charity work.
If you can demonstrate that others will suffer as much if not more than you – family members, a sports team, a charity or your company – then the judges are more likely to be sympathetic.
Is losing your job serious enough?
Sometimes, job loss alone isn’t enough. If you’re 30, live in a well-served city and work in a niche field, then you’ll probably find it easy to get another job, licence or not. If you’re 55 and have dozens of youngsters snapping at your heels, not so much.
Yes, doing the shopping will be a bit harder; no, you won’t be able to jump in the car for an impromptu beach day. You’re being punished, remember! Focus on concrete impacts and don’t list a lot of smaller negatives – the big ones should speak for themselves and they’ll be the only ones taken seriously.
Never be tempted to lie or exaggerate
This is why cross-examination was invented!
Gather your evidence
You need documentary evidence, so discuss with your lawyer what you can gather and how to present it. Evidence of this kind can win or lose cases, so spend time on it.
Letters from third parties are important – from your employer, your vulnerable mother, your spouse and any community organisations or charities that you volunteer for – if they can demonstrate that losing you as a driver will have a negative impact, then they’ll help a lot. Letters often work better than actual witnesses as they don’t forget things or fold under cross-examination.
Avoid mention of your charity work; let the letter from the charity itself do the talking, otherwise you can come across as manipulative.