Clarity Law - drivinglaw.com.au

South East Queensland's most experienced traffic law firm

Introduction

A work licence (also known as a restricted licence, section 87 licence or day licence) is a special type of licence that may be issued by the court to persons convicted of a low or mid-range range drink driving charge (a BAC reading under .15) or certain drug driving charges in Queensland.   A work licence replaces your normal Queensland drivers licence for the period of the disqualification imposed by the court.

A work licence can only be used for work purposes; you cannot use a work licence to drive to the shops or dropping kids off at school. A work 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.

It is also critical to understand that the work licence must be applied for before the court imposes a disqualification period for the drink or drug driving offence. Once the court imposes the licence disqualification you cannot apply for a work licence.

 

Can I apply?

To be eligible to apply for a work licence you must:

  1. hold a current Queensland open driver's licence for the vehicle you were driving. The open licence must have been held at the time of committing the offence.  Provisional and learner drivers cannot apply for a work licence
  2. have had a blood alcohol level of less than 0.15% or the drug driving offence must be been driving with a relevant drug and not drug driving UIL
  3. not have been driving for your job at the time you were charged. There are some exceptions where driving is not the main component of your job e.g. labourers driving to a work site or fencing contractors picking up materials to use onsite
  4. not have been driving under a licence that required your blood alcohol level (BAC) to be zero e.g. if you are on a learner, provisional, probationary or restricted license.

In the last five years you must not have:

  • been convicted anywhere of drink driving or a similar offence
  • been disqualified by any court
  • had a licence suspended or cancelled (except in some limited circumstances like certain SPER suspensions that did not go to court).
  • Applied for a work licence

 

What do I need to provide in my application?

To apply for a work licence you must file in the court where your drink driving charge is being heard (and serve on the police prosecutor) at least the following;

  1. An affidavit of yourself setting out;
    1. Your personal circumstances like where you live, with who etc
    2. What work you do and a detailed explanation of what driving for work you need to do
    3. The days and hours you work including any overtime
    4. Why you can’t use taxi’s or public transport
    5. Your financial circumstances including your income and expenses and those of you partner (if applicable)
    6. How your employment or if self-employed your income would be affected by not being granted a work licence
    7. How the drink driving charge came about and if necessary you will need to address other offences on your traffic history (or criminal history)
    8. What conditions the court should impose on your work licence
  1. If you are employed then your employer must provide an affidavit confirming the need for a work licence and if it not granted that you will be deprived of the means of earning your income
  1. An application form for a section 87 (Work licence) available at any court registry for a full use this link www.courts.qld.gov.au/contacts/courthouses

 

How does the Court judge my application?

In order for the court to grant a work licence you must show the court that you are a 'fit and proper person' and that if you don't get a work licence this will cause you or your family extreme hardship 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; this is especially true where your reading was mid-range (between .1 and .149). References can be from anyone who knows you well and thus can speak to your character but generally characters references from work colleagues or employers carry the most weight. The other effective thing you can do to improve the courts view of whether you are a fit and proper person is to complete a driving court. There are a number of courses but our strong recommendation is the Queensland Traffic Offenders Program (“QTOP”). The QTOP course is well regarded by the courts and can be done in person or online. Details can be found at their website www.qtop.com.au

The court judges whether you will be derived of the means of earning your income based on yours and if applicable your employer’s affidavit. It is critical to your application to show that you will suffer this extreme hardship. This is usually easier to prove for an employed person as your application must be accompanied by an affidavit of your employer that confirms you will be deprived of the means of earning your income if a work licence is not granted. It is harder to prove for self employed people and may require you to provide financial records to the court or to provide an additional affidavit of your accountant or the person you contract to.

 

Conditions the Court might impose on a work licence

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

  1. Restricting the days and hours you can drive to the bare minimum to complete you job or business requirements
  2. Restricting whether you can carry passengers
  3. Requiring you to complete a log book before driving
  4. Requiring you to wear your work uniform when driving
  5. Limiting what classes of vehicle you can drive

 

Before the Court Date

Your need to make sure that before your court date that;

  1. You and your employer need to take the Affidavits to a Justice of the Peace or Solicitor or commissioner of declarations and sign each and every page in their presence;
  2. ensure that the Justice of the Peace or Solicitor witnesses your signature by signing each and every page;
  3. Attend the Court Registry and collect an application form for a work licence (these are also available at Queensland Transport) file your original signed Affidavits with 2 photocopies. The Court will stamp them, keep the original and give you two copies back.  It is also a good time to file any character references you may wish the court to read.
  4. Then attend the Police Prosecutions unit (which is generally in the police station near the court, you should ask the court registry where this is) file on of the copies of the affidavits and the pink copy of the application for a work licence. Also give them a copy of any character reference you filed at the registry.
  5. Keep your copies of the affidavits, application form and references and take them to court on the court date.

 

Things to consider

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 but don’t wear your work uniform or clothes with prominent logos or writing. Never wear flip flops or shorts to court.

What should I bring to court?

You should have already filed and served on the police prosecutor all your written material.

You should bring a copy of;

  1. Your signed and witnessed affidavit
  2. Your Employers signed affidavit (if not self-employed)
  3. Any character references you wish to present to the court
  4. The application form you filed

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

Will I get a Criminal Record?

No all traffic convictions are just that, traffic convictions, they are not considered to be criminal charges. The courts are unlikely not to record a traffic conviction unless specific evidence is placed before it that a traffic conviction will harm you in some way. It is very rare to have no conviction recorded.

Will my matter be in the Paper?

Possibly, the court is an open court. What this means is that any person is entitled to watch the court proceedings. This also means that a reporter is entitled to report on what occurred in the court. It is not possible to have the court ban the reporting.

How long will I lose my licence for?

This is almost an impossible question to answer. It depends on your circumstances, your traffic history and criminal history (if any), your reading, the circumstances of your arrest and the Magistrate on the day.

Generally the courts will impose a longer disqualification period where you are granted a work licence. This can be up to double the period you would get without a work licence.

A very general guide to penalties is listed below; please note this is not legal advice as to your potential penalty it is merely a rough general guide. Some Magistrates will increase your disqualification period with a work licence, others will not and this is why we cannot give you an accurate idea of your potential disqualification.

 

BAC reading

Disqualification period

Fine

.05-.07

1-2 months

$300-400

.07-.08

2-3 months

$400-500

.08-.1

3-5 months

$500-600

.1-.12

5-6 months

$600-700

.12-.13

6-8 months

$700-800

.13-.15

8-11 months

$800-900

 

 

Generally any fine will 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.qld.gov.au/law/fines-and-penalties/state-penalties-enforcement-registry. Alternatively you can pay the fine at the court but there may be a delay as the information from the sentence is entered into the database.

 

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. Turn off your phone.

Eventually a Police Prosecutor will arrive you should then go and speak to them and confirm who you are and that you are applying for a work licence. Please make sure they have all your affidavits.

At this point is a good idea to ask the police for a copy of your charge documents and traffic history. Do this by asking for your “QP9” (this is the document number and is what it is referred to in the courts). Check the QP9 while you wait for the court to start to ensure it is correct. If it isn’t go and talk to the Police Prosecutor.

The court will start when the Magistrate enters, please stand whenever the depositions clerk or Police Prosecutor 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 Police 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 pleading guilty to the charge and that you wish to apply for a work licence. Please address the Magistrate as “Your Honour”. The Magistrate will then ask you to sit.

The Police Prosecutor will read a brief statement of facts and give the Magistrate a copy of your traffic history and breath analyst certificate. All of these documents will be in the QP9 so you should have already seen them.

Once the Police Prosecutor finishes the Magistrate will read the affidavits and if they have any queries they will ask you. Generally we find the Magistrates will not ask many questions. If you have not already filed any character reference tell the Magistrate you have some, the Police Prosecutor take them from you and will give them to the Magistrate.

If a work licence is granted a Magistrate will first give you a disqualification period and then a fine and finally will read out the terms of the work licence being granted.

You will then be asked to sit outside the court or at the registry to wait for your work licence 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 work licence – now what?

If you are granted the work licence then before you can drive again then you need to go to Queensland Transport and have your licence re-issued as a work licence. You cannot drive to the Queensland Transport office. Also unless you are returning to work or driving for work purposes from Queensland Transport then you would need a lift home as your work 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 work 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 work licence then you will be disqualified for the balance of the disqualification period left to run plus an additional 3 months.

 

What if I am not granted a Work Licence?

If you are not granted a work licence then you have the right to appeal and this must be done within one calendar month of your court date. Those time limits are very strict. It is beyond the scope of this article to provide information on appealing the refusal to grant work licence, you would need to obtain urgent legal advice.

 

What happens after my disqualification period?

After the period of disqualification has ended you will need to attend Queensland Transport and reapply for your proper 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 year. This 1 year started at the time your licence was disqualified by the court and the work licence granted so you may only have a few months to run at this point.

You do not have to re-sit any tests to get your licence back.

 

Should I engage a lawyer to apply for a work Licence?

While we obviously have a vested interest in people using a lawyer for a work licence application we are of the strong opinion that if your licence is critical to continuing to earn your livelihood then you use an experienced traffic lawyer.

Some advantages to using a lawyer for a work licence includes;

  1. It will increase the change of getting the work licence and the hours you require significantly
  2. Lawyers know what the Magistrates wants to hear to grant a work licence
  3. They can help minimise your disqualification period
  4. They will make the whole process easier and less stressful
  5. You will have at court someone on your side fighting to get the work licence granted

 

If I’m going to engage a lawyer why should I engage Clarity Law?

At Clarity Law we are experts in Queensland traffic law. We are in the court every single day helping people with traffic charges. We have successfully argued the court grant over 1,000 work licence applications. You simply can’t find a lawyer with more experience in the courts. We also have upfront fixed fees with no hidden charges.

We cover every court in South East Queensland from Coolangatta all the way to Gympie and out to Toowoomba.

 

Our offices are located at.

Sunshine Coast

Level 3, 14-18 Duporth Avenue

Maroochydore 4558

 

Brisbane

Bluedog Business Centre

Level 1, 16 McDougall Street

Milton

 

Southport

Corporate Centre One

Level 15, 2 Corporate Court

Bundall

 

Loganholme

M1 Business Centre

Level 2, 3972 Pacific Highway

Loganholme

 

Ipswich

Ipswich Corporate Office

16 East Street

Ipswich

 

Brendale

North Brisbane Serviced Offices

3/22-24 Strathwyn Street

Brendale

 

How do I get more information?

 

Email:                    This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Telephone:         1300 925 255

Website:              www.drivinglaw.com.au/services/work-licences.html

Contact Form:   www.drivinglaw.com.au/contact.html

 

Disclaimer: This article is for general information and is not legal advice.  The law or the practice of the court may have changed since this article was published.  Always obtain legal advice if you need a work licence.

Published in Legal Blog

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.
Published in Legal Blog

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.

Published in Legal Blog

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.

Published in Legal Blog

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

 

Published in Legal Blog

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

 

Published in Legal Blog

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.  

 

Published in Legal Blog

The legislation provides that where a person has two high range drink driving charges (a high range being above .15) and a person is again charged with another high range drink driving charge then the court must impose a sentence of imprisonment (all offences must occur within 5 years).  In those circumstances the question becomes whether the person will actually spend time in jail.  Whilst the legislation says a term of imprisonment must be imposed, there are options other than a person spending time in jail.  Those options are either a wholly suspended sentence or an immediate parole release date.

A wholly suspended sentence involves a person being sentenced to a term of imprisonment but not being required to serve that imprisonment if they keep out of trouble for a length of time, usually 12-18 months.  This way a person can remain in the community with the prison sentence hanging over them for a period of time, if they behave no further action is taken, if they commit an offence that carries a jail sentence then they will be bought before the court to serve the original suspended sentence.

An immediate parole release date is where a person is sentenced to imprisonment but is released from court into the supervision of a parole officer.  They will be required to undertake courses and other programs but if they remain trouble free they will not have to serve the original sentence.

It is critical where a person is facing a high range drink driving charge for the third time that they get immediate legal advice.

 

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
Published in Legal Blog

Often people are completely overwhelmed by the thought of attending the Brisbane Magistrates Court for a drink driving or DUI charge.  In Australia these types of matters are never televised and so people often have no idea what the process will be like or worse think it will be something like the American process they have seen on TV.

This article gives some idea what a typical Court appearance will be like for an unrepresented person in the Brisbane Magistrates Court.  It is important however to note that in almost all cases having a Lawyer represent you will result in a shorter disqualification period, smaller fine and much less stress. 

 

What will happen in Court?

Firstly you should arrive at least 25 minutes before your scheduled Court start time.  In the Brisbane Magistrates Court all drink driving matters begin at 9am and are generally heard in court 33 on level 7. 

The Brisbane Magistrates Court is located at 363 George Street.  There is another Magistrate Court in Brisbane known, very confusingly, as the Brisbane Magistrates Court – Roma Street.  It would be very unusual if your matter were to be held in the Roma Street Court as this is reserved for criminal matters.

When you enter the Brisbane Magistrate Court there is a security point which you must go through.  Once you have been through this on your right hand side is a number of electronic noticeboards which will list the Court number your matter will be heard in.  You should then take the elevator to the floor where the Court is.

Eventually a Police Prosecutor will arrive you should then go and speak to them in the Court room.  The Prosecutor will provide you the outline of the case against you, breath analyst certificate and your traffic history.  This document is generally known as the “QP9”.  The Police Prosecutor will only want to know whether you are pleading guilty, not guilty or seeking an adjournment.  Given the large amount of people waiting to see the Prosecutor they cannot and won’t be able to engage in any real discussion of your matter.

Check the QP9 while you wait for the Court to start to ensure it is correct.  If it isn’t go and talk to the Police Prosecutor.  If the details on the QP9 are wrong it might be appropriate to seek an adjournment.

The Court will start when the Magistrate enters, please stand whenever the depositions clerk (the Magistrates assistant) or Police Prosecutor calls ‘all rise’ and then wait for the Magistrate to sit down before sitting yourself.

Typically those with Lawyers will go first and then those people seeking an adjournment will go next and finally those people who are pleading guilty will go last.  There may be 30-60 people on any given day in the Court so it is not unusual for a unrepresented person pleading guilty not to be heard until 11am or even later.

 

Wait for your matter to be called and then approach the table where the Police Prosecutor is.  You will stand to the far left of the table.  Remain standing while the Magistrate asks what you are doing.  At this point you must tell the Magistrate what you want to do.  Please ensure you address the Magistrate as “Your Honour”.  If you are pleading guilty the Magistrate will ask you to confirm this and then the Magistrate will then ask you to sit.

The Police Prosecutor will read a brief statement of facts and give the Magistrate a copy of your traffic history and breath analyst certificate.  All of these documents will be in the QP9 so you should have already seen them.

Once the Police Prosecutor finishes the Magistrate will read the traffic history and breath analyst certificate and if they have any queries they will ask you. If you have not already filed any character reference tell the Magistrate if you have some, the Police Prosecutor will take them from you and will give them to the Magistrate.  You then have an opportunity to explain to the Magistrate what happened with your drink driving charge and anything else you wish to raise.

Once you have finished speaking and when the Magistrate has no further questions for you they will impose the sentence.  Given that all drink driving charges in Queensland carry a mandatory period of disqualification then you will be required to surrender your licence to the Prosecutor.  Once this is done you may leave the Court.

If you are eligible to apply for a work licence and are choosing to do so your matter will be adjourned to another day to hear that work licence application.  You must apply for a work licence before the court imposes your sentence, you cannot apply afterwards.  More details about work licences can be found here

For more information about drink driving or DUI’s visit our drink driving website.

 

Getting representation

While you are free to represent yourself in Court, engaging Clarity Law to act for you has a number of benefits including;

  • We know the judges and what they want to hear to give you the lowest penalty
  • We have good relationships with the Police prosecutors meaning we can often have them support the penalty we are asking the Court to impose or make changes to what they will tell the Court 
  • We will be able to get a copy of your QP9 before the Court date
  • We are there to help you through the process and make everything as stress free as possible, in most cases you will not have to say anything in Court
  • Engaging us shows the Court you are taking your charges seriously
  • Your matter will be heard early, often first, you do not have to wait for 30-50 other matters to be heard before you
  • You will be fully informed of what is to happen in Court and what this means for you after Court
  • Unlike the police or the Judge, we are there to look after you, your privacy and your interests

We appear in Brisbane Magistrates Court several times for with people charged with drink driving, it is this experience that allows us to get the best result for clients.  Other law firms simply don’t have the experience that we do and don’t know the judges like we do.  We offer one of the most competitive prices for drink driving charges in Queensland click here to see what we will charge.  If you want to engage us or just need further information or advice then you can either;

  1. Use our contact form,
  2. Call us on 1300 952 255 seven days a week, 7am to 7pm

 

 

Disclaimer – this article contains general advice only and is not intended to be a substitute for legal advice.  Its represents information about the law in Queensland and since publishing the law, the practice of the court or the interpretation of that law may have changed.

Published in Legal Blog
17/01/2017

High Range DUI

There are three different levels of drink driving for an Queensland open licence driver:

 

Low - .05-.099

Mid - .1-.149

High - .15 and above

 

If you are charged with a high range drink driving charge in Queensland (also known as DUI or UIL) the mandatory minimum disqualification, for a first time offender, is 6 months. Obviously your penalty will vary based on your exact alcohol reading, your traffic history, personal circumstances and the Magistrate handling your case. For more information see our link www.drivinglaw.com.au/services/drink-driving.html

 

Whilst it is a given that someone charged with a high range drink driving charge is going to get a more severe penalty than that of a low or mid-range offender there is also other repercussions that result from a high range drink driving charge.

 

You will not be able to apply for a work licence

 Work licences can only available to low to mid-range drink drivers. Regardless of your situation there is no way around this. There are other requirements you must meet to be eligible. For more information on this please see www.drivinglaw.com.au/services/work-licences.html

 

 

You will be subject to an Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device

Anyone charged in Queensland with a high range drink driving charge (or 2 low or mid-range drink driving charges within 5 years) will be subject to having an alcohol ignition interlock device fitted to their vehicle at the conclusion of their suspension. The alcohol ignition interlock device is similar to a breath test device and is connected to your vehicles ignition. You must blow into with a zero alcohol limit before your vehicle will start. You will need to have the alcohol ignition interlock device for a minimum of 1 year.

The alcohol ignition interlock device needs to be installed by an approved provider and costs vary depending on your vehicle size and if you are a pensioner.  You will incur the costs associated with the rental, installation, servicing and removal of the interlock from your nominated vehicle. 

If at the end of your suspension period you decide not to have an alcohol ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle, you will be unable to drive for a further 2 years from the date your Court suspension ended.

Whilst there are grounds for an exemption, there are few and it is difficult to obtain. Grounds of exemption can be if you are residing in a remote location (over 150kms from an alcohol ignition interlock installer) or living on an island, have a medical condition preventing you from being able to use the device or you have extenuating circumstances. Please note that extenuating circumstances cannot be that you are unable to install the interlock for employment or financial reasons. 

If you are facing a high range drink driving charge it is important to have an experienced Lawyer represent you to ensure you obtain the absolute shortest suspension period and fine possible.

 

Getting legal representation

Here at Clarity Law we represent drink driving charges in Courts across South East Queensland every day, it is this experience, and our expertise that allows us to get the absolute best result for clients.  Other law firms simply don’t have the experience that we do and don’t know the process and the Magistrates like we do.  We also offer the most competitive prices in Queensland that are all fixed fee so there are no nasty surprises when you receive your invoice.  Every week we appear in Brisbane, Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast courts helping clients with drink driving offences.

For more information visit our drink driving page or call 1300 952 255 7am – 7pm seven days a week

 

Disclaimer:

The information provided is for informational use only, and are in no way intended to constitute legal advice or to create a lawyer-client relationship, and you should not act or rely upon any information appearing in this article without seeking the advice of a lawyer. Moreover, because the law is constantly changing, the information appearing in this article are not guaranteed to be correct, complete, or up-to-date.  Steven and Clarity law only undertake matters in Queensland.

 

Clarity Law's liability limited by a scheme approved under professional standards legislation.

Published in Legal Blog
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