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;
- Use our contact form and we will contact you by email or phone at a time that suits you
- Visit our main page at www.drivinglaw.com.au
- Visit our special hardship page at www.drivinglaw.com.au/services/hardship-licences.html
- See our essential guide to special hardship licences www.drivinglaw.com.au/blog/item/26-essential-guide-to-special-hardship-licences.html
- Call us on 1300 952 255 seven days a week, 7am to 7pm
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.