An application for Special Reasons must be raised by the driver at the time of sentence. This should happen at the point at which he is convicted or where he accepts he committed the offence and pleads guilty. In the normal course of events, once an application for Special Reasons has been made the court will fix a date for a hearing which is called a Special Reasons Proof.
The onus or responsibility is on the driver to prove that Special Reasons exist and that these would justify the court from not imposing penalty points or disqualification. In practice the driver will give evidence and lead other evidence to establish that there are Special Reasons. Defence witnesses may also be called to support the application for Special Reasons. If this evidence is not accepted by the prosecutor the driver will be cross-examined and the evidence he relies on will be challenged. Conversely, the prosecutor may accept what is said by the driver. In this situation, the court can simply hear submissions in the absence of evidence.
The Court’s Decision
Some of the issues that a court may look at when considering special reasons include:
how far the vehicle was driventhe manner of drivingthe condition of the vehiclewhether the driver was intending to go furtherroad and traffic conditionsthe possibility of danger to other road users.
At the conclusion of the hearing the court will make a decision that Special Reasons have or have not been established. Where Special Reasons are established the court can order that no penalty points are endorsed on the licence. If the offence carries disqualification, the court can reduce the period of disqualification or impose no disqualifiaction at all.