I am about to lose my licence– What can I do?

Appealing a Licence Disqualification

Losing your licence can obviously have be very detrimental, particularly when it comes to requiring your licence for employment, school children duties, or for any reason that is important to you.  One of the most common traffic matters we come across is where a person loses their licence and wants to know if they can keep ‘just for work purposes’.

Where you are facing a disqualification for a loss of demerit points, you may be eligible to accept a good behaviour option.  This may give you the opportunity of retaining your licence, but it will come with conditions.

If you are a provisional licence holder, you may be able to appeal to the court for a review of the Registrar’s decision to disqualify your licence because of hardship.

There may be some avenues to try and appeal your disqualification. This obviously depends on your circumstances, the most significant being whether your disqualification was issued by the Registrar of Motor Vehicles or a court.

Court Imposed Disqualifications

Disqualifications can be imposed for certain offences that you either plead guilty to or are found guilty of and in many cases where a court imposes a licence disqualification it is a mandatory penalty.

A mandatory penalty is one where the law states that a magistrate or judge MUST impose that disqualification if a person is guilty of the offence and it cannot be reduced or mitigated in any way, no matter the circumstances of the offending or the detriment to you caused by the disqualification.

The only way a mandatory disqualification (or mandatory penalty of any kind) can be avoided is if the charge is withdrawn or the matter is taken to trial and you are acquitted (found not guilty) of the offence or if you make a successful trifling application.  In this instance however, the court can only reduce the disqualification to no less than 1 month.

The most common reasons that mandatory licence disqualifications are imposed are for offences relating to:

  • Drink driving (including failing to undertake testing);
  • Drug driving;
  • Driving in a careless manner or at a speed dangerous; or
  • Driving without due care (aggravated).

Registrar of Motor Vehicles Disqualification

Where disqualifications are issued by the Registrar of Motor Vehicles, this is most likely due to exceeding the amount of demerit points you can incur on your licence.

It is worth clarifying here, while most people think you ‘have 12 demerit points’ on a full licence and you lose them when you commit traffic offences, you actually have no demerit points to start and you only incur them when you commit offences. As soon you incur 12 or more demerit points, that is when you are subject to a disqualification period.

Similarly, for learner and provisional licence holders, you are not able to incur 4 or more demerit points, and probationary licence holders cannot incur 2 or more demerit points.

In instances where you receive a licence disqualification because you have accumulated 12 or more points on a full licence, you may be eligible to apply for what is known as a ‘good behaviour option’.

For provisional licence holders and you incur 4 or more points, or you breach a condition on your provisional licence, you may instead be eligible to enter into a ‘Safer Driving Agreement’ for the duration of your provisional licence.

A good behaviour option allows you to continue driving instead of serving the disqualification period, however if you incur 2 or more demerit points during the 12 month duration of that good behaviour option, you will then be disqualified from driving for twice the original disqualification period (e.g. if the original disqualification would have been 3 months, but you breach the good behaviour option, you would then face a 6 month disqualification) and there is no way out of it or any avenue of appeal if this occurs.

As to the Safer Driver Agreement for provisional licence holders, similarly you would be able to continue driving but if you incur 4 or more points during the duration of your provisional licence, you will be disqualified for 12 months and would again have no avenue of appeal if that were to occur.

The only avenues to avoid a further disqualification if you breach a good behaviour option or Safer Driver Agreement is to have the offence withdrawn, to be acquitted of the offence, or to seek a reduction of demerit points (however this is a much harder application than it once used to be).

Drivers are usually not eligible to apply for these options if you have already appealed / been subject to them within the last 5 years.

As with most legal matters, there are other sometimes other considerations to be taken into account as to whether you can appeal a licence disqualification. If you are facing a disqualification and wonder whether you may be able to avoid having to serve it, contact our traffic law specialist, Lauri, at our office on 8263 2400.