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Whenever you are charged with a traffic offence there is usually the scope to try and negotiate those charges with the police prosecutor or the Office of the Department of Public Prosecutions (“DPP”). This is known as case conferencing in Queensland.

For the purpose of this article, we will use two examples. One is an unlicensed driving charge, the other is a dangerous operation of a motor vehicle charge (“dangerous driving”).

Negotiations with the police prosecution unit or DPP are almost exclusively done by lawyers. You can of course self-represent yourself and negotiate with the prosecutor and prosecutors are always willing to listen to unrepresented people, however, most people simply don't have the skills to properly negotiate with the prosecutor as it is simply not skill that they have learnt or indeed would want or need to learn.

So let's first take the example of an unlicenced driving charge. Unlicenced driving carries different penalties depending on what exactly the unlicenced driving component relates to. For example, unlicensed driving charge at its worst can be a disqualified driving charge where a person has deliberately driven after the court disqualified their licence. In that case you are looking at a minimum of two years licence disqualification or it might be an unlicensed driving charge as a result of a licence becoming expired and you simply not realising it and that you drove on that expired licence and for that charge there is no mandatory licence disqualification.

Let's use the example of a demerit points suspension. That is where a person has driven whilst their licence has been suspended due to the accumulation of demerit points. This typically occurs where a person goes through their 12 (or 4 if a provisional licence holder) demerit points and then elects to lose their licence for three months or makes no election and is automatically assigned a three month licence suspension and then drives during that period. You will get a notice to appear in the Magistrates court on the unlicensed driving charge whilst the demerit points suspended. That charge carries with it a mandatory disqualification period of six months and there is no work licence or special hardship licence available for this charge. The ability to negotiate with the prosecution unit over the charge is a critical factor.

Negotiations are an informal process referred to amongst lawyers and prosecutors as case conferencing. It is not specified how case conferencing or negotiations need to take place. However, typically it is either face to face, over the phone or where the lawyer sends written submissions to the prosecutor to consider.

In the case of the demerit point suspension, given that there is a mandatory six months disqualification, what typically happens is the lawyer would seek to try and reduce the unlicensed driving (whilst demerit point suspended) charge down to a lesser charge of unlicensed driving charge that does not carry mandatory disqualification periods. Now there are a number of factors that need to go into whether or not the prosecutor would accept that reduced charge and a person’s traffic history is one of the main factors. Other things to look at is the need for that person to drive and exactly why their licence came to be suspended. For example, if you elected to lose your licence for three months and drove, then the prosecutor is less likely to agree to reduce the charge than if you had gone through your demerit points, not realised this and you had received an automatic three months suspension from Queensland Transport because you did not elect a good driving behaviour period.

What would typically happen is if the charge is reduced or withdrawn then on the next court date or on the first date if the first court mention date has not occurred yet the police prosecutor would seek to amend the current charges to that reduced charge or if they are withdrawing the charge they will offer no evidence in regards to the charge and the court will dismiss the charge and the client is free to go without any punishment.

Lets take a look at another example, that is dangerous operation of a motor vehicle (“dangerous driving”). This is a serious charge. It is a criminal charge as opposed to a traffic offence and carries with it the real risk that you will lose your licence for at least six months and possibly much, much longer.

Case conferencing often occurs once the police prosecutors brief (or most commonly known as the QP9) is provided to you or your lawyer. The QP9 will set out what the police prosecutor intends to tell the court happened, including the alleged driving and how that driving is alleged to be dangerous.

Negotiations or case conferencing with the prosecutor tends to look at trying to get that dangerous driving charge reduced to careless driving. A dangerous driving charge carries with it a minimum of six months disqualification if no one was seriously hurt or if there is no alcohol or drugs involved. A person found guilty of dangerous driving can also not apply for a work licence or special hardship licence. Careless driving on the other hand is a less serious charge, it is not a criminal offence it is a traffic offence and carries with it no mandatory disqualification. The court can still choose to disqualify a persons licence for a careless driving charge but handled correctly the court typically would not record a disqualification. Other areas of negotiation might be that the police won’t be able to prove that it was our client that was driving the vehicle or that there was some other legitimate reason for driving as they did. So you can see that negotiations and case conferencing in regards to dangerous driving is critical and if carried out successfully can save a person from losing licence for at least six months.

If you need any advice on a traffic related charge and have a court appearance in any South East Queensland court we can help you. We can be contacted on 1300 952 255 seven days a week. Our website is at www.drivinglaw.com.au

A drink driving charge is one of the most common offences dealt with in Queensland Courts. Over 30,000 people face court each year charged with drink driving. Knowing how a court will deal with a drink driving charge is important for anyone facing the court for this charge.

 

How Drink driving Offences are Dealt with Generally

In general terms, drink driving matters are dealt with “summarily”, which means that they are dealt with in a Queensland Magistrates Court, rather than in the higher courts, such as the District or Supreme Court. This is true whether you plead guilty or not guilty to the offence. If you plead not guilty, your matter will be heard and decided by a Magistrate, not by a judge and jury. Generally, the vast majority of people plead guilty to drink driving offences.

The different Magistrates Courts across Queensland deal with drink driving offences on their own or as part of a general, criminal law “call-over”. This depends on the size of the court. For example, Brisbane Magistrates Court has a dedicated courtroom that only deals with traffic matters. In Maroochydore the majority of drink driving charges are heard on a Monday, in smaller, regional courts (which usually only have 1 courtroom), you may find yourself in court with people charged with far more serious criminal offences. Regardless, when you are charged, the police will advise you of your court date.

In addition to the date, you will also be advised of what time you must be at court. Generally, you will be told to be at court at 8.30am or 9.00am (again, depending on the court). While you must be at court at this time, your matter will not be heard immediately. Instead, the court and the police prosecutor work together to decide the order in which matters will be heard that day. Most courts have volunteer support people who will be able to show you where you need to be.

As a rule, anyone who has legal representation will be heard first, followed by everyone who is representing themselves. Breaking that down further, it is a convention of most courts that barristers are heard first, followed by Solicitors who are seeking adjournments of their client’s matters, followed by Solicitors whose clients are pleading guilty, followed by people representing themselves who are applying for adjournments, and, finally, people representing themselves and pleading guilty. Note that not guilty pleas are dealt with on different days.

Of course, this is simply a convention, and Magistrates are free to choose how and when matters are dealt with in their courtroom.

 

What Happens when on the First Court Date

When you first get to court, your Solicitor will speak to the police prosecutor (or you will be directed to speak to them). The police prosecutor will give your Solicitor (or you) a copy of the police’s court brief (in Queensland, this document is referred to as a “QP9”). The QP9 describes the drink driving charge for with which you have been charged, a brief outline of the facts that the police allege constitutes the offence, your criminal history (if any), your traffic history (if any), and a copy of the breath analysis certificate (which you should have received at the time you were charged). It is important that you read the police’s outline of facts, criminal history, and traffic history carefully to ensure that you agree that these documents are correct. This is especially the case if you intend to plead guilty as a guilty plea is an admission of guilt to the charge and to the facts supporting the charge. If you think there is a problem you should discuss it with your Solicitor immediately.

On the first court date, you are not obligated to tell the court whether you wish to plead guilty or not guilty. You are entitled to get legal advice (if you do not already have a Solicitor) and the court will usually allow you to adjourn your matter for a few weeks to get this advice. While most courts offer a free, duty lawyer service, this service is not generally available for drink driving offences.

Alternatively, if you have read the QP9 and do not agree with everything in the police’s outline of facts or think that your criminal or traffic history is wrong, the court may allow you an adjournment to confer with the police about the problem. Your Solicitor will usually write to the police on your behalf and propose how to resolve the issue.

If you need to apply for a work licence, the court may adjourn your matter to a special day for hearing work licence applications (although not all courts do this). The legislation relating to work licence applications require them to be heard at the same time as the offence.

If you require an adjournment, the court will give you a date to come back to court. If you were given a Notice to Appear, the court will also consider granting you bail and require you to sign bail a bail form before you leave court. If you were arrested and bailed by the police, the court will extend your bail to the next court date.

If you were charged with a low-range drink driving offence, your drivers licence continues to be valid (unless it has been cancelled or suspended for other reasons) until the next court date and you may still drive. If you were charged with a mid-range or high-range drink driving offence, your drivers licence remains suspended until the next court date and you must not drive during this time.

If you intend to plead guilty and already have legal representation and do not need to discuss your matter with the police, the court will finalise your matter on the first court date. The process for this is discussed below.

If you intend to plead not guilty, the court will not deal with your matter on the first date but will adjourn your matter to a date for hearing. Your matter will be adjourned as per the process discussed above. The process for getting a drink driving matter is discussed below.

 

Pleading Guilty

If you plead guilty, the court will deal with your matter immediately. The Magistrate will read the charge to you and ask you how you plead. The Magistrate may also ask you if you are entering the plea of your own free will. The Police Prosecutor will then read the outline of facts and give the Magistrate copies of the breath analysis certificate, your criminal history and traffic history. The police prosecutor may also offer an opinion as to what penalties should be imposed on you.

After the Prosecutor has spoken, the Magistrate will give you an opportunity to speak. Your Solicitor (or you) will then put certain facts and circumstances to the court which support giving you the minimum penalty that can be argued for on the strength of those facts and circumstances. Queensland has legislation which dictates to the court the sorts of things that must be taken into account when deciding what penalty is appropriate in any given case. You Solicitor will tailor the information that you give to them to address those considerations contained in the legislation. This will form the basis of your Solicitor’s submissions to the court on your behalf.

This entire process will generally take less than 10 minutes.

Once your Solicitor has spoken, the Magistrate may seek further clarification of certain matter from the police, from your Solicitor, or from both. The Magistrate will then formally convict you, impose a penalty (which can cover the full range of penalties from fines, community service, probation, and up to imprisonment), and disqualify you from driving for a certain period of time. The licence disqualification takes effect immediately.

If you have applied for a work licence, the Magistrate will indicate whether the application is granted. If it is granted the Magistrate will state the conditions on which the licence is granted.

Once you are disqualified, you must immediately surrender your drivers licence to the police prosecutor. It is an offence to be in possession of your licence after you have been disqualified from driving. Your Solicitor will usually hand over your licence on your behalf. If you have been granted a work licence, you will not need to surrender your drivers licence.

Once this is done, your matter is finalised (apart from satisfying the requirements of the penalty, such as paying a fine, completing a period of probation, etc).

 

Pleading Not Guilty

If you plead not guilty to a drink driving offence, the Magistrate will adjourn your matter to a date for hearing. In the Magistrates Court, trials are referred to as “summary hearings”. In broad terms, the process for getting to a hearing is relatively straightforward. Once you tell the court that you intend to plead not guilty, the court will order the prosecution to prepare a “brief of evidence” which is a bundle of all the evidence that the police intend to use to prove the case against you. It generally takes about 6 to 8 weeks for the police to produce a brief of evidence.

The Magistrate will also set a date for summary hearing. Depending on the size of the court, and how many other people intend to fight their charges, you can expect to be given a date for hearing in about 3 to 5 months’ time. As with an adjournment, you will generally be given bail until that date and your licence status remains the same until the date of hearing.

Drink driving hearings are conducted in the same way as any criminal trial, and strict rules of evidence apply to these proceedings. In addition, if you intend to fight the charge on the basis that the police’s breath-analysing equipment was not calibrated or was faulty, there are specific rules and procedures that must be complied with before the hearing. If you fail to comply with these rules and procedures, the court will not allow you to challenge the accuracy of the police’s equipment at trial.

If you intend to fight your drink driving charge, it is vital that you (at the very minimum) get good legal advice prior to making the decision to have the matter set down for hearing. It is also important that you are properly represented at hearing to make sure that you give yourself the best possible chance of being successful in defeating the charge.

 

Conclusion

While drink driving matters may be considered among the more “simple” of matters dealt with in the court system, the process of having them dealt with can still be a daunting task to the uninitiated. With so much at stake, it is important to get it right and to get it right the first time. That is why it is crucial to get proper legal advice and representation as soon as possible after you have been charged.

 

How do I get more information or engage you to act for me? 

If you want to engage us or just need further information or advice, then you can either;

  1. Use our contact form and we will contact you by email or phone at a time that suits you
  2. Visit our main page at www.drivinglaw.com.au 
  3. Visit our drink driving page at www.drivinglaw.com.au/services/drink-driving.html
  4. See our guide to work licences at www.drivinglaw.com.au/services/work-licences.html
  5. Call us on 1300 952 255 seven days a week, 7am to 7pm
  6. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Whether you call it a hardship licence, a special hardship licence, a high speed suspension licence or demerit point licence you are likely to have questions about what will happen in court. From the almost 1,000 successful special hardship applications we at Clarity Law have made the following are the most frequently asked questions.  This information applies only to hardship licence applications in Queensland.

 

What time should I arrive?

You should arrive no later than 30 minutes before the time your special hardship application is to be heard (45 minutes is better). The time will be listed on your application form.

 

How long will this take?

The court hears matters with lawyers representing clients first; then adjournments and finally unrepresented people proceeding with their special hardship application. It might take up to 1-2 hours before your matter is heard.

 

What should I wear?

You should wear the most business like clothes you feel comfortable wearing. Perhaps it best to describe the clothing as what you would wear to a job interview. Please don’t wear clothes you are uncomfortable wearing.

 

What should I bring?

You should bring a copy of your application form and affidavits. The originals should already have been filed with the court and with Queensland Transport. Also bring your driver’s licence and if you attended QTOP or similar programs a copy of your attendance certificate.

 

What do I do after arriving at the court?

You need to talk to the Prosecutor from Queensland Transport about your special hardship application. However they don’t appear at every court. Ask at the registry if a prosecutor is present. If they are go and speak to them, if they aren’t wait in the assigned court room. The police don’t handle Special Hardship Applications.

 

What will happen in the court?

Basically the Magistrate will ask you what is happening with your application. If you are self-represented you need to go through your application and the affidavits with the Magistrate. You will suggest to the Magistrate what conditions they should impose on the Special Hardship Order. The Magistrate will have questions about your need to drive and whether you are a fit and proper person to be granted a Hardship Licence. After you are finished the Magistrate will give their decision. If you have a lawyer they will do all the talking.

Please refer to the Magistrate as “Your Honour” and follow basic court protocol like standing when the Magistrate enters the court room and standing when speaking to the Magistrate.  You should also turn your phone off and not consume food or drink in the courtroom.

 

What will happen after the Court?

If your Special Hardship Application is granted you will be required to attend your local Queensland Transport (‘QT’) office to have a new licence issued (you cannot drive from the court to QT). There is a fee for this. Your local QT office can be found by going to this site www.qld.gov.au/transport/contacts/centres The licence you get back has a X3 condition meaning you are subject to a SHO. Once that licence is issued you can drive as per the order i.e. you could drive to work from QT to work but not from QT to home. After 6 months (or the period of the suspension) you will need to return to QT to have a new licence issued.

If for some reason your special hardship is not granted you have the right to appeal that decision. The appeal must be made within 28 days of the date the decision was made.

 

What happens if the Magistrates Court refuses to grant my application for a SHO?

If the court does not grant the SHO, your licence suspension will continue for the period of the licence suspension that had not been served before the application for the SHO was made.

 

How long will my SHO apply for?

The SHO will apply for the length of the suspension period detailed on your suspension notice and begins from the date of the court order. Generally this is 6 months.

 

Can I apply to have my SHO driving restrictions varied?

Yes. You may apply to a Magistrates Court to vary the restrictions stated on your SHO if the circumstances under which you are required to drive have changed since the SHO was originally granted to you.  This might include changing your employment or role at work.

 

What happens if I do not comply with the restrictions under my SHO?

If a court convicts you for the offence of failing to comply with your SHO your licence will be disqualified as follows;

  • if your SHO still applies — the balance of the order period still to be served by you as well as an additional three months
  • if your SHO no longer applies — three months from the day of your conviction (this only applies where you are charged with an offence of failing to comply with your SHO conditions)

 

How many demerit points do I get on my special hardship licence?

The law has recently changed and you cannot incur any demerit points on the SHO. If you incur demerit points on the SHO your licence will be suspended for 12 months.

 

What happens when the period of my SHO ends?

When the SHO period has ended, you may return to Queensland Transport to have your licence reissued (at no charge) without the ‘X3’ condition code. We have received conflicting advice from Queensland Transport in regards to what happens to your demerit points incurred before the SHO was granted and that are still “on your record”, our understanding is that you will have no demerit points after the SHO finishes but you should check this when getting your licence back after the SHO finishes.

If your offence was a high speed offence then the 8 demerit points you received remains on your record for the 3 years.

 

How do I get more information or engage you to act for me? 

If you want to engage us or just need further information or advice then you can either;

  1. Use our contact form and we will contact you by email or phone at a time that suits you
  2. Visit our main page at www.drivinglaw.com.au 
  3. Visit our special hardship page at www.drivinglaw.com.au/services/hardship-licences.html
  4. See our essential guide to special hardship licences www.drivinglaw.com.au/blog/item/26-essential-guide-to-special-hardship-licences.html
  5. Call us on 1300 952 255 seven days a week, 7am to 7pm
  6. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

This article is for general information only and is not a substitute for legal advice. Please visit our disclaimer page at www.drivinglaw.com.au/disclaimer.html Clarity Law's liability limited by a scheme approved under professional standards legislation.

At Clarity Law we have been able to assist almost a thousand people obtain a Special Hardship Order ("SHO") since 2010. We have obviously been able to acquire a lot of knowledge during this time and this guide is meant to give people a basic understanding of what it might take to apply for a hardship licence in Queensland. Special hardship licences are also sometimes referred to demerit point licences or just hardship licences. For more information contact us on 1300 952 255 or visit our Special Hardship Order page or our main page at www.drivinglaw.com.au

 

Introduction

A special hardship licence is a special type of licence that may be issued by the court to persons who travel over the speed limit by more than 40 km/h or exceed their demerit points on a good driving behaviour period.   A special hardship licence allows you to drive during the suspension of your licence (generally 6 months but can be longer)

A special hardship licence can only be used for the purposes stated by the court; you cannot use a special hardship licence to drive to the shops or dropping kids off at school unless the court has specifically allowed this to happen. A special hardship licence is designed to allow you to continue to earn a living where a driver’s licence is an essential component to you earning that living or for some other specified serious reason.

 

Can I apply?

To be eligible to apply for a special hardship licence you must hold a current Queensland open or provisional driver's licence for the vehicle you were driving and in the last five years you must not have:

  • been convicted anywhere of drink driving or a similar offence
  • been convicted in Queensland of dangerous driving
  • had a licence suspended, disqualified or cancelled (except in some limited circumstances).
  • Applied for a special hardship licence

If you are unsure whether you can apply then contact us.

You will need to file an affidavit of yourself and if you are not self employed an affidavit of your employer saying without a licence you will be deprived of the means of earning your income.  It cannot be a letter it must be a signed and witnessed affdavit in the correct format.

How to apply

You must apply to the Magistrates Court in the district or division in which you live after your licence has been suspended (you can apply on the day your licence is suspended or if you want to apply before the suspension date you need to attend a Queensland Transport office and have your suspension start earlier.

Your affidavit should include your:

  • name, address and job details
  • details of your family
  • details about how your licence came to be suspended
  • Why you are a fit and proper person to get a special hardship licence
  • Details of your traffic history
  • details that you are a ‘fit and proper person’ that respects the safety of other road users and the public –
  • Your work details including
    • your current work and how long you have done it
    • what your work involves and the days and hours you work
    • why you need a licence to keep that job
    • why you cannot do your job without a licence e.g. why you can’t use public transport
  • Your financial situation –
    • what you get paid each week
    • any other family income, eg if your partner works, money from investments, rent etc
    • what you spend each week on the most important things, eg rent/mortgage, food, transport, health, school fees, phone, internet
    • other things you think are important that you need or want to spend money on.

You need to make sure the affidavits are signed and witnessed (in triplicate).  You then need to attend the court and file an application and the affidavit and pay the filing fee.  You then need to serve a copy of all those documents on your local Queensland Transport offence.

The court will give you the date and time your application will be heard.

How does the Court judge my application?

In order for the court to grant a special hardship licence you must show the court that you are;

  • a 'fit and proper person' and
  • that a refusal to grant the licence would cause extreme hardship to you or your family by depriving you of your means of earning a living or severe and unusual hardship to you or your family, other than by depriving you of your means of earning a living

The court will generally judge whether you are a fit and proper person based on your traffic history. Character references can also help a court decide you are a fit and proper person.

We strongly suggest you complete a traffic offender program before your court date. The one we recommended is the Queensland Traffic Offenders Program (“QTOP”). Their website is at www.qtop.com.au

The court judges whether you will lose your job based on yours and if applicable your employers affidavit.

 

What restrictions will the court impose?

The court may restrict the hours and circumstances in which you can drive. Generally unless there is a very good reason the court will not grant you a 24 hr / 7 day licence. The court can only grant you a special hardship licence for the licence classes you already hold.

Generally the court will be looking to impose one or more of the following conditions;

  1. Restricting the days and hours you can drive
  2. Restricting whether you can carry passengers
  3. Requiring you to complete a log book
  4. Requiring you to wear your work uniform when driving

 

What should I wear to court?

You should wear the most business like clothes you feel comfortable wearing. Perhaps it best to describe the clothing as what you would wear to a job interview. Please don’t wear clothes you are uncomfortable wearing.

 

What should I bring?

You should bring copies of;

  1. Your signed and witnessed affidavit
  2. Your Employers sign affidavit (if not self-employed)
  3. If you completed QTOP then the attendance certificate

You should also bring your driver drivers licence and around $30-50 to pay for your new licence at Queensland Transport if a special hardship licence is granted.

 

Will I get a Criminal Record?

No

 

How long will I lose my licence for?

Generally 6 months but this depends how many demerit points you incurred.

 

 

What will happen in the court?

Please arrive at least 30 minutes before your court time.

Find out which court you are in and wait outside that court. AT THIS POINT SWITCH OFF YOUR MOBILE, PLEASE TURN IT OFF COMPLETELY AND NOT JUST PUT IT ON SILENT

Eventually a Queensland Transport Prosecutor will arrive you should then go and speak to them and confirm who you are and that you are applying for a special hardship licence. Please make sure they have all your affidavits and references. They will indicate whether or not they oppose the application and if they do why. If they do oppose the application you should ask if there is any course or other things you can do so they will not object.  At this point is a good idea to check your traffic history with the prosecutor (they have a copy) and answer any questions they have.

If Queensland Transport does not send a prosecutor to the court they will likely have emailed the court outlining their position of whether you should get a hardship lcience or not.  The Magistrate in that case will tell you what Queensland Transport has said.

The court will start when the Magistrate enters, please stand whenever the depositions clerk calls ‘all rise’ and then wait for the Magistrate to sit down before sitting yourself.

Wait for your matter to be called and then approach the table where the Prosecutor is. You will stand to the far left of the table. Remain standing while the Magistrate asks what you are doing. Tell the Magistrate that you are applying for a special hardship licence. Please address the Magistrate as “Your Honour”. The Magistrate will then ask you to sit.

The Prosecutor will tell the court their position on the application Once the Prosecutor finishes the Magistrate will read the affidavits and if they have any queries they will ask you.

If a special hardship licence is granted a Magistrate will ask you to sit outside the court or at the registry to wait for your order. It is this document that you take to Queensland transport. Please check the order is correct before leaving the registry.

For more information on how a Magistrate court works go to www.justice.qld.gov.au/justice-services/courts-and-tribunals/going-to-court and select virtual tour from the menu to the left.

 

I was granted a special hardship licence – now what?

If you are granted the Licence then before you can drive again then you need to go to Queensland Transport and have your licence re-issued as a special hardship Licence. Also unless you are returning to work or driving for work purposes from Queensland Transport then you would need a lift home as your Licence would not cover for the trip between Queensland Transport and your home but it would cover you to drive from Queensland Transport back to work.

You must also comply with the requirements of any court order in relation to your licence, this may be the requirement to complete a logbook or similar. Also throughout the period of the special hardship Licence you must keep a copy of the court order in any motor vehicle you drive.

If you are caught driving outside the terms of your licence then you will be disqualified for the balance of the disqualification period left to run plus an additional 3 months.

REMINDER: YOU CANNOT DRIVE FROM THE COURT TO QUEENSLAND TRANSPORT

 

What happens if the Magistrates Court refuses to grant my application for a SHO?

If the court does not grant the SHO, your licence suspension will continue for the period of the licence suspension that had not been served before the application for the SHO was made. You my be able to appeal the decision not to grant the special hardship but very strict time limits apply.

 

How long will my SHO apply for?

The SHO will apply for the length of the suspension period detailed on your suspension notice and begins from the date of the court order.

 

Can I apply to have my SHO driving restrictions varied?

Yes. You may apply to a Magistrates Court to vary the restrictions stated on your SHO if the

circumstances under which you are required to drive have changed since the SHO was originally granted to you.

 

What happens if I do not comply with the restrictions under my SHO?

If a court convicts you for the offence of failing to comply with your SHO or you incur 2 or more points under the SHO, your licence will be disqualified as follows;

  • if your SHO still applies — the balance of the order period still to be served by you as well as an additional three months
  • if your SHO no longer applies — three months from the day of your conviction (this only applies where you are charged with an offence of failing to comply with your SHO conditions)

 You cannot incur any demerit points during a SHO, even incurring 1 demerit point will lead to your SHO being cancelled.

 

What happens when the period of my SHO ends?

When the SHO period has ended, you may return to Queensland Transport to have your licence reissued (at no charge) without the ‘X3’ condition code. We have received conflicting advice from Queensland Transport in regards to what happens to your demerit points incurred before the SHO was granted and that are still “on your record”, our understanding is that you will have no demerit points after the SHO finishes but you should check this when getting your licence back after the SHO finishes.

 

How do I get more information or engage you to act for me? 

If you want to engage us or just need further information or advice then you can either;

  1. Use our contact form and we will contact you by email or phone at a time that suits you
  2. Visit our website at www.drivinglaw.com.au
  3. Call us on 1300 952 255 seven days a week, 7am to 7pm
  4. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

This article is for general information only and is not a substitute for legal advice. Please visit our disclaimer page at www.drivinglaw.com.au/disclaimer.html Clarity Law's liability limited by a scheme approved under professional standards legislation.

If you appear in a Queensland court charged with a traffic offence such as drink driving, drug driving or dangerous driving and plead guilty or are found guilty then the court will likely disqualify your drivers licence (many offences such as drink driving and drug driving carry mandatory minimum periods of disqualification). The purpose of this article is to give people some guidance as to what occurs after you leave the court if your licence has been disqualified.

 

Do I Get to keep my Physical Licence?

No, you are required to surrender your licence to Queensland Transport by the day after the court disqualifies you or to the police prosecutor at the court. It is an offence to be in possession of a licence if you have been disqualified by a court.

The surrender of your licence may in some circumstances deprive you of your main form of identification, you may therefore wish to attend Queensland Transport before the court and obtain a proof of age card to help with identification during your period of disqualification.

When does the Disqualification Begin?

The disqualification starts immediately. You would not be able to drive once you leave the court

What does this mean if you hold a licence granted outside of Queensland?

If disqualified, you are not authorised to drive on a road in Queensland under your non-Queensland driver licence during the disqualification period.  If your licence is from another state in Australia then your disqualification should prevent you from driving anywhere in Australia. You will need to check with your local transport authority.

What happens if you have any Industry or Driver Authorisations?

The disqualification period will also apply to any Industry or Driver Authorisation held by you (for   example a taxi, tow truck, bus, limousine, dangerous goods, driver trainer or pilot vehicle licence).   At the end of the disqualification period you will be required to visit or contact a Queensland Transport Centre or licence issuing agent to have your eligibility to hold an Industry or Driver authorisation reassessed.

What happens if you drive during your disqualification?

If you are found driving during your disqualification period, you will be charged with disqualified driving and you will be required to appear in court. If the charge is proven, the court will further disqualify you for a period of at least 2 years to a maximum of 5 years and may impose a substantial fine or sentence you to term of imprisonment for up to 18 months.

How do I pay my fine?

Generally any fine can be referred to SPER. You can arrange with SPER to make payments on the fine or to pay it in one lump sum. For more information on SPER visit www.sper.qld.gov.au/. Alternatively you can pay the fine at the court but there may be a short delay as the information from the sentence is entered into the database.

Offender Levy

As from 21 August 2012 all people who plead guilty or are found guilty in the Magistrates Court must pay a levy (currently $125.80) in addition to any penalty imposed by the Magistrate.  The levy is separate from any monetary penalty we have advised the Magistrate may impose.  More details can be found at http://www.courts.qld.gov.au/about/offender-levy

What happens after my disqualification period?

After the period of disqualification has ended you will need to attend Queensland Transport and reapply for your licence. You cannot simply start driving after your disqualification period has ended. Please don’t drive to Queensland Transport as you are not entitled to drive until after you have been to Queensland Transport. Also remember to bring 100 points of ID.

After you have been disqualified you will be on a probationary licence for 1 year, this means that;

  1. You have only 4 demerit points available
  2. You have a zero alcohol limit for 1 years

You do not have to re-sit any tests to get your licence back (if you have held a licence in the past 5 years).

Please note that if you have more than one disqualification period imposed for example if you committed two offences that carried separate disqualification periods or you were already serving a disqualification then your disqualifications may run cumulatively meaning they run one after the other and not at the same time. You will need to check with Queensland Transport about this. If your licence disqualifications add up to more than 2 years you might be eligible to apply for a licence reinstatement after 2 years. More information on licence reinstatements is available on our website.

Interlock

Please note you may be required to have an interlock device fitted to your vehicle once you are eligible to obtain your driver’s licence back. This requirement applies to certain drink driving charges. The court has no discretion to allow you not to do this as it is a Queensland Transport licencing requirement. This is an area that is subject to constant change, for more information visit www.tmr.qld.gov.au/Licensing/Licence-suspensions-and-disqualifications/Alcohol-ignition-interlocks.aspx

How do I get more information or engage you to act for me? 

If you want to engage us or just need further information or advice then you can either;

  1. Use our contact form and we will contact you by email or phone at a time that suits you
  2. Call us on 1300 952 255 seven days a week, 7am to 7pm
  3. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

This article is for general information only and is not a substitute for legal advice. Please visit our disclaimer page at www.drivinglaw.com.au/disclaimer.html Clarity Law's liability limited by a scheme approved under professional standards legislation.

Recent changes to the legislation covering special hardship orders (SHO) will increase the amount of people who can apply in Queensland.

Currently people who elect to go on a good driving behaviour period after accruing too many demerit points and then exceed the demerit points on that driving behaviour period or those who commit a high speed offence (over 40 km/h) may be able to apply for a special hardship order to allow them to drive for certain specified reasons, generally work related. All the details on special hardship licences and the eligibility requirements can be found on our special hardship information page.

The time limit for applying for the special hardship licence was strictly 21 days after the licence became suspended.

However as of 1 April 2019, the application period for suspended drivers seeking a SHO was removed. The amendment provides flexibility by taking into account that a suspended driver may experience a change in circumstances at any point during their licence suspension period that would require them to apply for a SHO. From 1 April 2019, a driver on a suspended licence may apply at any point in time during their suspension for a SHO should they need to and should they meet the eligibility requirements.

None of the eligibility requirements have changed and the granting of the special hardship order is still up to a Magistrate but the amendment to the legislation provides more flexibility to people on a suspension who suddenly find their circumstances changing and the need to drive becoming a necessity.

Its important to note that the period of the special hardship order has not changed. The period of the suspension before applying for a special hardship licence will not count towards the period of the special hardship licence. In most cases the SHO runs for 6 months that means if a person’s licence was suspended 3 months ago and they then decided to apply for a special hardship order they would still have to serve at least 6 more months on the SHO.

For more information check out of website at www.drivinglaw.com.au

In Queensland, it is an offence to fail to provide a specimen of breath, or saliva for the purposes of determining a person’s blood alcohol concentration. Strictly speaking, there are two types of offences for failing to provide a specimen of breath or saliva. The first offence occurs when a person fails to provide a sample other than at a police station or in a booze bus. It is common for this kind of offence to occur at a roadside RBT, although it could happen somewhere else, such as a person’s home. The other offence occurs when a person fails to provide a specimen at a police station or booze bus.

Similarly high penalties attach to both offences.

The “roadside” failure offence attracts a maximum penalty of a fine in excess of $5,000 or 6 months’ imprisonment. Failure to provide a specimen of breath, after being taken to a police station or booze bus, is treated the same as a high-range drink-driving offence: the maximum penalty is a fine in excess of $3,500 or 9 months’ imprisonment and disqualification from driving for at least 6 months (for a first offence).

Work licences are available for anyone who is charged with a “roadside” failure to provide offence (as long as the person is eligible for a work licence). No work licence is available for the “police station” (or booze bus) failure to provide charge.

The word “fail” is broader than mere refusal (although it also includes refusal) – a person “fails” to provide a sample if that sample is insufficient to conduct the test or is not provided in such a way that allows for the test to be conducted. For example, if a person starts to breathe into a breathalyser, but stops before a sufficient sample is taken, that could amount to a “failure” to provide a sample, and the police could charge the person with failing to provide a sample. Similarly, if the person sucks in air, instead of blowing into the breathalyser, that person could also be charged with this offence.

Police Powers to Require a Sample of Breath, Saliva, or Blood

Police have the power to require someone to provide a specimen of breath, saliva, or blood for the purposes of determining that person’s blood-alcohol content. A police office may only make this request if the officer reasonably suspects that the person either drove a motor vehicle, attempted to drive it, or was in charge of the vehicle up to 3 hours prior (note that the definition of being “in charge” of a vehicle is quite broad – the person need only be in a position to be able to operate the vehicle without first taking control of the vehicle from someone else). The police may also require someone to provide a specimen of breath, saliva, or blood at the scene of a traffic accident that caused injury, death, or damage to property.

Once a police officer makes such a request, that officer may take the person to the nearest police station, or to some other place (such as a hospital) that has the necessary equipment for carrying out a breath or saliva test. The person may be taken there by force, if necessary. The police officer may require multiple samples of either breath or saliva (or both) if it is reasonably necessary to do so in order to complete testing.

Defences

It is a defence to the charge to prove that, at the time the request was made to provide a sample of breath or saliva, the person was suffering from an illness that made them incapable of providing such a sample. It is also a defence to prove that, at the time of the request, the person’s health could have been affected by giving the sample. Proof is provided by a medical certificate that the person carries with them and can show the police officer at the time of the request. Otherwise, the person must prove that they had such a medical condition in court, after they have been charged. Remember, however, that the police can ask the person for a different type of sample.

It is also a defence to prove, to the court, that the request was not made lawfully or that there was a substantially good reason to not provide a specimen (other than trying to avoid the results of the test).

Contact Clarity Law for any advice or information on a Queensland drink driving charge.  We are open 7 days a week, Phone 1300 952 255.

There seems to be some amount of confusion as to whether or not you can commit a drink driving charge in Queensland within a private are such as your driveway, or in a, say a private place such as a car park. We are often contacted by people who believe they should not have been charged with a drink driving charge as they were not on a road at the time of the offence. In Queensland the legislation is fairly clear when it comes to drink driving. The police have to essentially prove three things to obtain a conviction for a drink driving offence The first is the fact that the person had alcohol in their system, the second is that they were the driver or in charge of the vehicle at the time of the offence. The last thing that must be proven is where the offence occurred.  The legislation provides that the drink driving an offence can be committed can be committed on or upon a road or elsewhere.

 

Section 4 of the Transport Operations (Road Use Management) Act defines a road and elsewhere to mean any place other than a road, so in essence the definition where a drink driving offence can occur is on a road, or in any place other than a road. So you can see that there is no place where you can be driving and not be potentially charged with a drink driving charge. Interesting, a motor vehicle may still be considered a motor vehicle even if it is impossible to drive, although there are occasions where a person is caught in charge of a motor vehicle that is not actually driving a motor vehicle, but occupying the front seat of the vehicle, or being in charge by way of the fact that they have access to the vehicle and was shown intention to drive.

 

If you need any information on drink driving in Queensland visit our drink driving page at www.drivinglaw.com.au/services/drink-driving  or call 1300 952 255

 

Drink driving legislation in Queensland now provides that any person who is charged with a drink driving offence that is a mid-range or high-range offence will immediately lose the ability to drive. Those persons who have a low-range drink driving charge only have a 24-hour prohibition on driving after being arrested.  A low range drink driving offence applies to readings between .05 and .099, a mid range drink driving offence applies for readings between .1 and .149 and a high range drink driving offence is anything above that.

 

People who have received an immediate suspension notice from the police will often suffer a huge shock to both work and personal life arising from the inability to continue to drive. While it’s true in Queensland, we have mandatory periods of disqualification, the impact should not be overlooked.

 

The legislation does provide some levels of relief to the impact on the loss of a person's licence. The first area in which the legislation provides some relief is that the period of suspension that a person has served under the notice may be taken into account by the Magistrate when setting the disqualification period for the drink driving charge. This does not mean that the disqualification that the court sets will run from the date of arrest, it will still run from the day that the Magistrate disqualifies the person's licence, however in setting the penalty the Magistrate may take into an account the period that a person has spent off the road.

 

This is meant to work in the following way. If the Magistrate was considering imposing a disqualification of two months and the person had already been suspended for a period of one month, then the Magistrate should set a penalty of one month only.

 

In practise, the period of time a person has spent under suspension may very well be taken into account by the Magistrate but each Magistrate treats that period of suspension quite differently. As the legislation doesn't provide that the Magistrate must lower the disqualification as a result of the person's immediate suspension period, simply then it may be taken into account, each Magistrate will use their own judgement as to how much they take into account the immediate suspension period.

 

The other way the legislation provides some relief is that where a person is challenging a drink driving charge or applying for a work licence, then, under the act you are able to apply to the court for an immediate return of your licence. The requirements for the application are very similar to a work licence application in that a person must file an affidavit of themselves and an application form. This is known as a Section 79E Application. Further information could be found on our website at www.drivinglaw.com.au/blog/item/3-all-you-need-to-know-about-section-79e-applications.html

 

In practise this type of application is generally of most use where a person's court date for the hearing of a work licence application is some time in the future. For instance, Southport Magistrate's Court will not hear work licences on the first court date, so for example, say you had a mid-range drink driving charge and were immediately suspended and your first court date was three weeks into the future, then you will be suspended for the period up until your first court date plus whatever period runs from the date of your first court date to when the application for work licence is actually heard. This would generally be at least a week or two after the initial court date as Southport Magistrate Court only hear work licence applications on Tuesdays at 9am.

 

To mitigate that period of suspension, a person could lodge an application for a Section 79E Licence prior to the first court date and seek the ability to continue to drive up until the Magistrate ultimately deals with the entirety of the work licence application which as stated above, may be five weeks after the arrest.

 

There are strict timelines applying for people who are wanting to apply for a section 79E Licence and as such you need to take immediate legal advice should this be something you wish to pursue.

 

Finally, we need to discuss the consequences of driving whilst on the immediate suspension. The law is extremely harsh in this regard. If you are caught driving whilst immediately suspended and before the court ultimately rules on your drink driving offence, then that driving will be treated as essentially driving whilst disqualified and will attract a minimum licence disqualification of two years. This would then be added on top of any period of disqualification you may receive for your drink driving charge.

 

We have had many examples where clients have recorded a drink driving charge, been arrested, then released and have immediately gone back to their car and started to drive again.  As they breach the immediate suspension, their disqualification period can end up being in excess of three years when the drink driving disqualification is added on, especially where they have returned to the car still over the legal limit for driving.

 

In those cases the potential three-year disqualification cannot be mitigated by applying for a work licence as the driving under the immediate suspension charge eliminates that possibility.

 

For more information contact us on 1300 952 255. We appear in Southeast Queensland Courts every week conducting traffic matters such as drink driving, drug driving and disqualified driving. We can assist you should you be needing a 79E licence or work licence, or simply where you have a drink driving charge.

 

This article is subject to our disclaimer notice which can be read at www.drivinglaw.com.au/disclaimer.html

 

We recently appeared in the Sandgate Court for a client facing the real prospects of a prison sentence. The client had been charged with unlicensed driving due to a previous court ordered disqualification and high range drink driving or driving UIL (also sometimes referred to as a DUI).

 

Making the situation much worse for the client is that he had, in the words of the Magistrate, a terrible history that included eight previous disqualified driving charges and seven previous drink driving (UIL) charges. In the previous five years there were two high range drink driving charges alone. As a result of the legislation where a person has three high range drink driving charges within five years, a prison sentence must form part of the penalty imposed by the Magistrate. This doesn't mean that a person will necessarily go to jail, but it means a jail sentence will be imposed and the question will then become whether or not they should get an immediate parole release date.

 

In our client's circumstance, we had to fight very hard to try and keep him out of jail. Specifically, we were seeking that the court impose a jail sentence for the drink driving charge with an immediate parole release meaning the client would be released from the court that day with a jail sentence hanging over their head should they breach their parole.

 

We also had to deal the disqualified driving charge and in that circumstance we sought a probation order so that in essence, the client would be on a parole and a probation order at the same time.

 

Ultimately, we were able to convince the Magistrate to do this given that the client clearly had a long standing alcohol abuse issues, even though he had never sought treatment in the past. One of the things that was the most concerning for the Magistrate was that he had spent time in jail for the exact same charges two years ago. Therefore, our job was made particularly difficult as we could not argue that a jail sentence with actual imprisonment was not an appropriate sentence because that had previously been imposed by an earlier court for the exact same charges.

 

The client did not help himself in that he failed to obtain the type of references that we had suggested that he obtain and had not done any of the driving courses that we had suggested. We did have the client assessed by the Probation and Parole Officer at Sandgate Court and ultimately they informed the court that there were courses and structures that could be put in place to try and minimise the likelihood that the client would reoffend. The Magistrate said that she was faced with a difficult task in that deterrence is the number one issue for the court. That is deterrence specifically of our client from committing these offences again and deterrence of anyone else committing this offence. If a too light a sentence is imposed then deterrence of our client may not be effective and deterrence of the general public committing the same type of offences would also be diminished.

 

Ultimately, we were able to convince the Magistrate not to send our client to jail. But it was perhaps the closest you can come to a potential prison sentence without actually being sent to jail. Our client will now be subject to quite close and strict supervision by Probation and Parole to try and ensure that he does offend again.  If he does offend in the next year he could be sent to prison for 28 days for breaching his parole order with further punishment likely.

 

There are some important lessons to learn from this type of offending and that is, it is important for a person to ensure that they have done everything prior to the court case possible to try and convince the Magistrate that they deserve a further chance by not being sent to jail. The other lesson to be learned is that disqualified driving especially where it combined with a drink driving charge (UIL) will be treated seriously by the Courts and there is a high possibly of receiving actual prison time for these types of offences, especially where like our client, the traffic history is poor.

 

If you need any information on drink driving offences or disqualified driving offences please contact us on 1300 952 255.  We appear in all courts in South East Queensland from Southport to Gympie.  

 

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