A special hardship licence is a type of licence that may be issued by a Queensland Court to persons who travel over the speed limit by more than 40kms over hour (high speed suspension) and/or exceed their points on a good driving behaviour period. There are no other circumstances in which you can apply for a special hardship licence. A special hardship licence allows you to drive during the suspension of your licence (generally 6 months).
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, university, or unpaid work experience unless this is specified in the Order. A special hardship licence is designed to allow you to keep your job and 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.
Depending on which Magistrates Court your application is to be heard in depends when your application will be heard. Some Courts hear Special Hardship Application weekly, some fortnightly and some only monthly. Again, as it is a nominated Court application you may request a date for a month or two away if you need to for any reason.
When you receive a fine which breaches your good driving behaviour period you can continue to drive as normal up until mid-night before your suspension date. However you cannot drive after that time until you have filed your Application for a Special Hardship with the Court and QLD Transport. You have 21 days from the suspension date in which to do this.
The suspension date is allocated by Queensland Transport. When you make payment, part payment of your fine or the debt is referred to the State Penalties Enforcement Register (SPER), Queensland Transport is then notified that you have breached your Good Driving Behaviour period and that you need to be issued a suspension date. A letter is then sent out to you, usually 2-3 weeks after you make payment, part payment or the debt is referred to SPER. The suspension date will be on the letter and will generally be a further 2-3 weeks from when you receive the letter.
If you wish to hurry the process along than make payment or a part payment as soon as you can so that Queensland Transport will become aware and issue a suspension date sooner. If you wish to put it off than do not make payment or a part payment until the day before the fine is due.
It is critical to ensure Queensland Transport has your current postal address as it is an extremely important letter. If you are unaware of your suspension date and are caught driving you will be charged with unlicensed driving.
You can file the Application for a Special Hardship Licence and supporting material on your suspension date, which ensures that you are only unable to drive on that day until you have filed your application and material. It is also good to your application if you do file the application on the suspension date in that it shows that you are unable to go for a period of time without a licence.
If you chose not to file your application for a special hardship application on the first day of the suspension you only have 21 days from the suspension date to file your application for a special hardship licence there is absolutely nothing can be done if you exceed the 21 days.
The application and material needs to be filed with the Magistrates Court closest to where you reside, where you will be issued a Court date. Then you just need to attend the corresponding Queensland Transport office to serve them with copies of your application and material. Once that is done you may continue to drive, as normal, up until midnight before your Court date.
Having a Lawyer prepare and undertake your Special Hardship Licence Application is critical to ensure that your application is successful.
This article is written by Steven Brough one of Queensland’s most experienced traffic lawyers and contains general advice only not legal advice. For more information on Special Hardship Applications visit the our Special Hardship Application webpage on our driving law website or call 1300 952 255 7am – 7pm seven days a week