We are often contacted by Queensland drivers wondering what their options are when they receive notice that they have exceeded their allowable demerit points.
In Queensland all drivers start with zero points and if an offence is committed anywhere in Australia and that offence carries demerit points as part of the punishment then those demerit points are added to the drivers traffic record.
When do demerit points start from?
Demerit points apply from the date you commit an offence. They are recorded on your traffic history when any of the following has occurred:
How long are the demerit points on my driver’s licence?
For open licence holders the demerit points will stay on your traffic history for 3 years.
What if I exceed my demerit points?
If you exceed your demerit points you will be sent a notice to choose by Queensland Transport and will have two choices either;
If you elect to have your licence suspended, you cannot later change your mind and you cannot apply for a special hardship licence for the next 5 years.
What if I failed to make a choice?
If you do not make a decision of whether to suspend your licence or elect a good driving behaviour period then Queensland Transport will assume you wanted your licence suspended and your licence will then be automatically suspended from the due date for the requisite period.
What if I elect a driving suspension or fail to make a choice by the due date and are caught driving?
If you are caught driving without a licence you will be charged with unlicensed driving and subject to a 6 month court disqualification. You cannot apply for a special hardship or work licence at this point.
Good driving behaviour period
If you elect a good driving behaviour period by the due date then for a year you are subject to the requirement of a good driving behaviour period. There are no restrictions on your driving however the key point is you cannot incur more than 1 demerit point during this period. If you incur 2 or more demerit points within the year (the time runs from the date of the offence not the date the charge is finalised or paid) then you breach the good driving behaviour period.
What if I breach the good driving behaviour period?
If you breach the good driving behaviour period then your licence will be suspended for 6 months (it can be longer depending on how many demerit points you incurred on the good driving behaviour period).
What if I breach the good driving behaviour period but still need to drive?
If you breach your good driving behaviour period and still need to drive then you might be able to apply for a special hardship licence (also known as a hardship licence or special hardship order) to allow you to drive for specific reasons during the licence suspension.
A special hardship licence is only available where you are on a 12 month good driving behaviour period and incur a further traffic offence or are caught driving more than 40 km/h over the speed limit.
You are not eligible to apply for a Special Hardship Order (“SHO”) if, within the last five years before making the application:
You must prove to the court that losing your licence will cause severe and unusual hardship to you or your family (by depriving you of the means of earning your income or some other critical issue) and that you are a fit and proper person having regard to your traffic history.
You will receive a letter from QLD Transport advising of your suspension date. Please note unless you have lodged your application for a SHO before that date you will not be able to drive after your licence is suspended, until you have filed the documentation.
There is no longer a 21 day time limit from the date your licence is suspended to apply for a hardship licence however once your licence is suspended you cannot drive until you have lodged and filed the application and none of the days that elapsed from when your licence is suspended till the application is lodged with the court counts towards the period you will be on the special hardship licence. For example if you wait a month after your licence is suspended before applying for a special hardship licence and your special hardship will last 6 months then that one month does not reduce the 6 month period on the special hardship licence.
An application for a special hardship licence is heard in the Magistrates Court with jurisdiction closet to where you live and requires extensive affidavits of yourself and if employed from your employer.
If you are successful in obtaining a SHO your licence may restrict you to
Please note the court may impose other the following conditions on your licence including;
During the period of the SHO you can only drive as above. It is important for you to understand that you do not have a full licence during the period of the SHO. The SHO will apply for the period of your licence suspension, i.e. the period is usually 6 months.
The other critical aspect of a special hardship licence is you get zero demerit points which means even if you incur one demerit point your licence will then be suspended for 12 months.
Let us the example of a person found to have used a mobile phone (other than in a parked vehicle) In that case they will be fined $1,000 and incur 4 demerit points.
If they are an open licence holder with no demerit points then the addition of 4 demerit points to their traffic history won’t affect their licence. However what if they already had say 9 demerit points or if you were provisional licence holder then the addition of the 4 demerit points means they have exceeded their allowable amount of demerit points. If that case they be sent a notice to choose and given two choices either;
If they elect a suspension or don’t make any election by the due date then their licence is suspended.
If they elect a good driving behaviour period then for 12 months they must not commit an offence or offences that exceed 1 demerit point. If they do commit and offence while on a good driving behaviour period they might be able to apply for a special hardship licence.
How do I check how many demerit points I have?
You can check your demerit point balance using the demerit points online service provided by Queensland Transport.
What demerit points apply for different offences?
Queensland Transport has a list on their website of all the traffic offences and what demerit points apply. It can be accessed at www.qld.gov.au/transport/safety/fines/demerit/points
In Queensland we do not have period where all offences have double demerit points applying e.g. at Christmas however certain offences if committed twice in a 1 year period may incur double demerit points for the second offence. These include;
Can you help me get a Special Hardship Licence?
We absolutely can. Our firm has conducted thousands of successful special hardship applications. We have the knowledge and experience to give you the best chance of the court granting a special hardship licence. We have a have on our website a dedicated page to Special Hardship Licence’s
We can help with a special hardship application in any court in South East Queensland, from the Gold Coast up to Maryborough and out to Toowoomba.
We have offices at;
If you don’t live in South East Queensland we can still help draft the necessary affidavits.
How do I contact you or get more information?
We are open seven days a week from 7am to 7pm.
Telephone: 1300 925 255
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 to appear in court.
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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;
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;
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.
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.