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
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;
- Restricting the days and hours you can drive
- Restricting whether you can carry passengers
- Requiring you to complete a log book
- 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;
- Your signed and witnessed affidavit
- Your Employers sign affidavit (if not self-employed)
- 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?
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;
- Use our contact form and we will contact you by email or phone at a time that suits you
- Visit our website at www.drivinglaw.com.au
- 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.