‘Special Reasons’ explained in simple terms

What are special reasons?

These have arisen through case law, and amount to reasons which enable a court, to refrain from disqualifying for the commission of an obligatorily disqualifiable offence, or to refrain from endorsing a driving licence with penalty points in respect of an endorsable offence. If the defence submit that special reasons exist then the court would hear evidence to establish if that is the case. if they do find that special reasons exist, they are not obliged either to not disqualify, or to not endorse with penalty points. The finding of special reasons by the court gives rise to a discretion within the court, which should only be exercised in a clear and compelling case. For example, while driving with excess alcohol, or driving whilst unfit, the court might decide not to disqualify if it found that special reasons existed. Or for an otherwise endorsable offence, such as speeding, it might decide not to endorse with penalty points, if it found that special reasons existed. 

So what is the the definition of a ‘Special Reason’ ?

Well it is generally considered that there are four elements which must be present before a circumstance can be found to be a special reason. 

  1. It must be a mitigating or extenuating circumstance;
  2. It must not amount, in law, to a defence to the charge;
  3. It must be directly connected with the commission of the offence; and
  4. It must be a factor the court ought properly to take into account when sentencing.

For example, with a drink-drive allegation, sometimes special reasons can be found to exist, where the distance driven was very short. Especially if there was a strong justification for moving the vehicle. For example it concerns somebody’s safety. Each case turns on its own facts, and is a matter of the court’s judgement.