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
We often get calls from people needing a special hardship licence for work purposes who also desire to be able to drive their children to school or other activities under that hardship licence.
First a bit of background, a special hardship licence or special hardship order is a licence that may be available to people who exceed their demerit points, elect to go on a 12 month good driving behaviour period and then during that period incur further demerit points. In those circumstances unless a person applies for a special hardship licence then they will have their licence suspended for a minimum of 6 months and be unable to drive. A person who has their licence suspended for exceeding the speed limit by more than 40 km/h (a high speed suspension) may also be eligible to apply for a special hardship licence. For more information about special hardship licences see our webpage - www.drivinglaw.com.au/hardship-licences.html
The special hardship licence is only available to people who are on a Queensland open or provisional licence and who have in the previous 5 years not had a licence suspension or disqualification (excluding SPER suspensions).
The special hardship licence is available where if the court were not to grant the order the applicant or their family would;
1. suffer extreme hardship by depriving them of the means of earning a living; or
2. suffer severe and unusual hardship for some other reason
To apply for a special hardship licence a person must lodge affidavits for themselves and their employer (if they are not self-employed) and must appear in their local court before a Magistrate to argue for the special hardship licence to be granted. For information on the timeline of a special hardship application see our previous article www.drivinglaw.com.au/blog/item/6-special-hardship-application-time-frames.html
In most cases it is relatively easy to establish that a person would suffer financial hardship if they lost their licence and as a result could not work. What is much tougher is being able to establish that a person would suffer severe and unusual hardship if they could not drive their children to school or other activities.
It is important to note that a special hardship licence is not a licence to be able to drive whenever a person desires, the order for the special hardship licence, if granted by the Magistrate, will restrict the hours, days, reasons and places a person can drive. The order will also restrict who a person can have in the car with them. Therefore to be able to drive children a person would need to first convince the court that they or their family would suffer severe and unusual hardship if not able to drive the children and if that is established then the court will need to specify exactly where and when the children could be driven.
The general attitude of most Queensland Magistrates is that they will not grant a person the ability to drive their children to school or other activities. To be able to convince the Magistrate to grant the right to drive children to school generally a person would have to prove that;
1. There is no public transport available to transport the children to school;
2. There is no one else who could drive the children i.e a partner or family member (further Affidavits on behalf of these people may be required in some circumstances);
3. The hours the parents work is such that driving the children to school is the only viable option to get them to school; or
4. The children have special needs that means driving them to school is the only option.
When it comes to being able to drive the children to sporting or other activates the courts are even more reluctant to allow this. Generally a person would only be able to drive their children to these activities if they could prove that
1. The children have special needs such that the sporting or other activities help with or
2. The children are competing at such a high level that if the parents cannot drive them they are likely to suffer severe and unusual hardship
The court would be looking for affidavit evidence from a doctor or a coach confirming the need to drive the children.
Due to the complexity of special hardship licence application, especially when requesting the licence to cover children’s needs it is important to engage a professional to represent you.
Clarity Law is Queensland’s leading traffic law firm covering every court is South East Queensland.
We undertake special hardship applications 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. If you want to engage us or just need further information or advice then you can either;
For more information visit our drink driving page or call 1300 952 255 7am – 7pm seven days a week
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.
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