Speeding motorists should no longer be able to avoid a driving ban because it would mean losing their job, according to senior judges.
Loss of employment will not automatically be deemed as exceptional hardship – resulting in a lighter punishment being handed out – under new guidelines for magistrates in England and Wales proposed by the Sentencing Council.
The judge-led organisation’s proposals state that “some hardship is likely to occur in many if not most orders of disqualification”, and courts should be “cautious” before claims of exceptional hardship are accepted.
Drivers are normally disqualified for a minimum of six months if they receive at least 12 penalty points within three years, unless they convince a court to issue an alternative sentence.
Actor Steve Coogan was handed a shorter, two-month driving ban in August 2019 after successfully arguing an extended disqualification would mean he could not film the new series of Alan Partridge.
The comedian faced a six-month ban after being given three points for driving at 36mph in a 30mph zone, which would have taken him up to the 12-point threshold.
Sentencing Council chairman Lord Justice Holroyde said: “Sentencing guidelines are used in magistrates’ courts throughout England and Wales on a daily basis and it is important that they provide clear guidance to court users.
“This consultation is in response to requests from magistrates for changes to provide more information and bring greater clarity to these guidelines.
“We are keen to hear views on the proposals from magistrates, others working in the criminal justice system and anyone else with an interest in sentencing.”