Everything You Need to Know to Appeal a Licence Suspension as a Driver in NSW

In navigating the complexities of a licence suspension in New South Wales, it’s important to understand your rights and the appeals process to regain your driving privileges.

In this article, we will delve into appealing a licence suspension in NSW, providing you with valuable insights and the steps to follow to have the best chances of getting your licence reinstated.


How is a Driving Licence Suspended?

According to Services NSW, if you commit a traffic offence, you may have your licence suspended by the police – either on the spot or up to 48 hours of you being charged/receiving a penalty notice. You can also be disqualified from driving by a court.


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What is a Police Suspension?

A Police Suspension occurs automatically when you are pulled over and fined for some traffic or speeding offences. According to Services NSW, the police can suspend your licence on the spot if you:

  • have a serious accident causing death or grievous bodily harm
  • speed in excess of 45km/h over the speed limit (full licence holders)
  • speed in excess of 30km/h over the speed limit (learner or provisional licence holders)
  • drive with a prescribed concentration of alcohol (PCA) or under the influence of alcohol (DUI) or drugs 
  • take part in street racing and other hoon offences 
  • drive without supervision (learner licence holders)

If your licence is suspended on the spot, you will not be able to drive away and will need another person to pick up your vehicle. You may be charged with a driving offence, in which case the immediate suspension will remain in place until your case is heard by a court. The court will take into account the time you have already spent on suspension.

What Should I Do If I Have a Police Licence Suspension?

If you are facing a Police suspension, the only way to avoid any time off the road would be to elect to take the matter to Court.

How Do I Contest a Police Suspension?

If your driver’s licence has been suspended by the Police and you want to have the matter determined in court, you need to make an application to the Local Court within 28 days of receiving the ‘on the spot’ suspension.

How Do You Know if Your Licence is Suspended in NSW?

You will know your licence has been suspended, as you will receive a notice of suspension and you will also see the suspended status in your Service NSW app. When you go to your licence in the app, it will show a red cross on the status indicator.

What is a Notice of Suspension?

A Notice of Suspension is issued by Transport for NSW and will inform you of the date on which your licence will be suspended. Depending on the type of Suspension you face, there are different mechanisms in place to contest the Suspension.

These driver licence suspensions do not require a Court election, but rather a Licence Appeal. Again, the type of decisions that can be subject to a licence appeal varies based on the type of licence you hold.

Which Licence Suspensions Can Be Appealed?

Learner, Provisional P1 or P2 drivers

  • Transport for NSW licence suspensions for exceeding the demerit point limit
  • Transport for NSW licence suspensions for speeding 30 km/h or 45km/h over the limit (camera detected only)

Unrestricted drivers

  • Transport for NSW licence suspensions for speeding 30km/h over the limit
  • Transport for NSW licence suspensions for speeding 45km/h over the limit (camera detected only)

When Can You Not Appeal a Licence Suspension

You cannot appeal a licence suspension if:

  • you received a notice of suspension for exceeding the demerit point limit
  • you have breached a good behaviour licence

Breach of a Good Behaviour Licence

If you hold a Good Behaviour Licence, any traffic infringement for which you accrue 2 or more demerit points within the 12 months of the holding of that licence will result in your breaching the conditions of this licence.

The only way to avoid spending any time off the road in these circumstances would be to challenge the Speeding Fine by electing to have the matter heard in Court.

The options available to you would be:

  1. Plead not guilty and defend the offence; or
  2. Plead guilty and seek to have the matter dealt with under section 10 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act (NSW) 1999.

What is the Time Limit for an Appeal?

Suspension notices issued by the Transport for NSW are subject to a strict time frame of 28 days. The 28 day period begins when the notice of suspension is posted to you at the most recent address record on the Transport for NSW records. This date can be found on the top left corner of your suspension notice.

If you attempt to file an appeal outside of the 28-day timeframe, it will most likely be rejected. If you are able to file the appeal, the court may determine that it has no jurisdiction for the court to hear the matter and dismiss your appeal.


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Steps on How to Appeal a Licence Suspension in NSW

The licence appeal process can be a difficult one if you are unprepared. It can be broken down into the following steps:

  1. Receive an infringement notice for an excessive speed and/or an infringement which will result in you exceeding your demerit point threshold
  2. Pay the infringement in full or enter into a payment plan. Note: if you elected to have the matter heard by a court and were convicted, Transport for NSW will send you a notice of suspension.
  3. Receive notice of suspension from Transport for NSW indicating that Transport for NSW has made a decision to suspend your drivers licence
  4. Draft and lodge an appeal against the decision of Transport for NSW to suspend your licence within 28 days. Include details of the offence and any exceptional circumstances if relevant. A court date and location will be allocated.
  5. Attend court and proceed with the licence appeal hearing. After your case is heard the Magistrate will deliver their decision immediately. Note: There is no avenue of appeal if you are unhappy with the court’s decision.

How is a Transport for NSW Licence Suspension Appeal Determined?

Transport for NSW licence suspension appeals are heard in the Local Court of New South Wales.

When you appeal the decision of the Transport for NSW to suspend your drivers licence, the court considers many things including:

  • Whether or not you are a fit and proper person to hold a driver’s licence,
  • The circumstances of the Offence;
  • Your traffic record and
  • Whether you have a need for a licence.

In considering the circumstances of the offences which have caused the suspension, however, they cannot redetermine your guilt or innocence.

Possible Outcomes of a Transport for NSW Licence Suspension Appeal

The Local Court has the ability to exercise the same powers that Transport for NSW had when they made the decision to suspend you. The three outcomes of a licence appeal are:

The Appeal is Allowed

This means that you do not spend any time off the road, at all. If you are a provisional licence holder or learner appealing a demerit point suspension, the demerit points remain on your record, and they have the ability to count towards future suspensions.

The Appeal is Dismissed and Varied

This means that the court has seen fit to impose some period of suspension. The court can vary the period of suspension as much or as little as it deems appropriate.

If you are a provisional licence holder or learner appealing a demerit point suspension, the relevant demerit points are reset after the period of suspension imposed and will no longer have the ability to count towards future suspensions.

The Appeal is Dismissed

This means that the court has not seen fit to show leniency to you. You will be required to serve the period of suspension indicated on your notice of suspension. The suspension period will commence immediately unless the court specifically orders otherwise.

Transport for NSW and court will not send you another notification warning you that your licence is suspended. If you are caught driving after being suspended, you will not be able to defend the matter on the basis that Transport for NSW did not send you another letter notifying you of the suspension period.

If you are unhappy with the courts’ decision, you are unable to appeal the decision.

Other Outcomes of a Licence Suspension

There are other repercussions to expect when it comes to a suspended licence, depending on the type of licence you hold and if you have had multiple suspensions.

Do You Need to Take the Driver Knowledge Tests After a Suspension Period?

If you have had two or more suspensions in the last 5 years, regardless of the length of that suspension, Transport for NSW may require you to sit the Driver Knowledge Test before you are able to recommence driving.

Extension of Provisional Periods for P1 and P2 Licence Holders

Any time your P1 or P2 licence is suspended, the period of suspension is not counted towards the total minimum time required for that class of licence. This means that if you are a P1 licence holder that has been suspended for 3 months, that 3-month period does not count towards the 12-month total minimum period that you have to hold that licence.

At a minimum, everyone must hold a P2 licence for 24 months. Every suspension period you receive (either from Transport for NSW or Police) will add an extra 6 months to that 24 month period.

Key Takeaways

Looking to Appeal a Licence Suspension? 

Traffic Law in NSW is complex and can often have a number of underlying considerations that might not be evident. Hamilton Janke Lawyers are recognised as Leading Traffic Lawyers in NSW and can help you to understand your rights and obligations.

If you or someone you know needs advice or representation for a licence appeal, contact the team at Hamilton Janke today.

Written By
Picture of James Janke
James Janke

James Janke is founding partner at Hamilton Janke Lawyers, and has more then decade of experience as a Criminal Defence Lawyer. Admitted to both the Supreme Court of New South Wales and High Court of Australia