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What is a Totting Up Disqualification?

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A totting up disqualification is when you accumulate 12 or more penalty points on your licence, resulting in an automatic driving ban.

Totting up bans explained

When you commit a motor offence, your licence will normally be endorsed with penalty points. The number of points will depend on the nature of the offence. For instance, you might be handed three penalty points for a minor speeding offence, six points for using a mobile hand-held device, and up to nine points for careless driving.

Usually, penalty points remain valid for three full years, and on the fourth anniversary will be wiped from your licence.

However, you are not allowed to accumulate an indefinite number of penalty points – otherwise, the system would not act as much of a deterrent. In fact, you are only allowed to have 11 points on your licence at any one time. If you accumulate 12 or more, your licence will automatically be taken away. Hence the name, a ‘totting up’ ban.

Because penalty points usually remain valid for three years, the general rule is that you cannot accrue 12 or more points on your licence in a three-year period.

Therefore timing can be a key issue in totting up bans. Each set of points has an expiry date, and you need to be mindful of when these are. If you are sitting on 11 penalty points, you cannot accept any further points until some of your former endorsements have expired. If you do, the law states that you must be automatically disqualified.

How long will a totting up ban last?

When you accrue 12 or more penalty points on your licence, the court will decide how long to ban you for.

There is a mandatory disqualification of at least six months, although the court can exercise its discretion and give you a shorter ban. Normally this only happens if it is your first disqualification. For those who have already been disqualified in the previous three years, you may be banned for anywhere between 12 months and two years.

Anyone who has been disqualified for more than 56 days will need to apply for a new licence before driving again.

Can I avoid a totting up ban?

Having your licence taken away, even for a short period of time, can be extremely troubling. Many of us rely on our ability to drive, and a disqualification may cause all sorts of complications and inconveniences. If you need a licence for your job, it could also cost you your livelihood.

However, there is only one way to avoid a totting up ban, and that is to plead exceptional hardship.

There is no set definition of exceptional hardship, but it basically means that a driving disqualification would cause more than an inconvenience – it would result in hardship. This might be emotional or financial hardship. Each case will be assessed according to its individual merit, but you might be able to argue exceptional hardship if -

  • It would cause your employer or employees to lose their job
  • It would cause your dependants to suffer, including family, friends and members of the community
  • It would leave you unable to pay your debts
  • It would affect your health

This is not an exhaustive list, and the best way to find out if you can plead exceptional hardship is to speak to a specialist solicitor.

Expert legal advice

If you are facing a totting up ban, our team of motoring solicitors can provide you with expert legal advice, suggesting what your options are. If we believe that you are able to argue exceptional hardship, we can handle your case from start to finish, from We specialise in defending motor offences and can help you achieve a successful outcome.

If you would like to speak to a lawyer about a totting up ban, please contact us now.