Special Reasons

For any “endorsable offence” (one which is punishable by the endorsement of either penalty points or a disqualification) the Court has the authority to deviate from ordering the recommended, or in some cases mandatory, penalty. This is because the Court recognises that it would not always be appropriate to punish offenders for their actions in the particular circumstances.

If a driver has a reason for committing the offence, but it does not amount in law to a defence, then they may have a Special Reasons argument, which should be presented to the Court and considered before imposing sentence.

Arguing Special Reasons involves entering a guilty plea because, as a matter of fact, the defendant is guilty of the act. You would need to attend Court to give evidence, with witnesses if appropriate, and the hearing proceeds in the same way as a trial would, in that the defendant gives evidence and is cross-examined by the Prosecutor.

A Special Reasons argument is not always straightforward to make, and it should be thoroughly and robustly prepared. Examples of Special Reasons include (but are not limited to); shortness of distance driven; being misled into believing that insurance was in place; laced drinks; and genuine emergency.

Upon hearing your evidence, if the Court finds that there are Special Reasons for not endorsing the usual penalty then they have the discretion to reduce the period of disqualification, or not impose one at all.

The same discretion to vary does not apply when considering penalty points. If the Magistrates’ find Special Reasons then they must not impose any points. If they do not find that the argument reaches the threshold then they will impose the full number of points. They cannot find Special Reasons and reduce the number of penalty points.

Case law exists to support virtually every scenario, however there is one case which underpins the argument generally. The case of R v Wickens (1958) states that, to amount to a Special Reason a matter must;

  • 1. Be a mitigating or extenuating circumstance;
  • 2. Not amount in law to a defence to the allegation;
  • 3. Be directly connected with the commission of the offence; and
  • 4. Be one which the Court ought to properly take into consideration when imposing sentence.

If you are stopped by the police or receive a summons to Court for any motoring offence and you would like to discuss your options with genuine experts then contact our legal team. We will take your instructions and consider whether you have a defence or a Special Reasons argument and will give you clear advice on your options and how best to proceed.

  • We are specialist motoring defence solicitors, based in Plymouth in the South West. We provide expert legal advice and representation to clients both across Devon and Cornwall and nationally. Contact a member of our motoring legal team for an initial discussion about any road traffic matter.**