About the Scheme
In 2017, amendments to the Road Transport Act took effect, allowing individuals to apply to the Local Court to have their ‘long-term’ licence disqualification period removed, that is, a minimum of two years disqualification. The purpose of the reforms is to ensure that the penalties for unauthorised driving offenders are proportionate with the offence/s commit. The reforms also provide an incentive to disqualified drivers to comply with their licence disqualification conditions.
Who is eligible to have a licence disqualification removed?
Generally speaking, if you have been compliant with the disqualification conditions set by the Court, and have not committed any driving offences during the offence-free period that applies, you may be eligible to apply to the Local Court to have the remainder of their disqualification period set aside.
You cannot apply for a removal if you have ever been convicted a ‘serious driving offences’ which are:
- Murder or manslaughter caused by the use of a motor vehicle;
- An offence under the Crimes Act that caused the death, grievous bodily harm or wounding of a person by a motor vehicle;
- Predatory Driving or Police Pursuits (under the Crimes Act);
- Negligent driving causing death or grievous bodily harm;
- Intentional menacing driving;
- Failing to stop and assist after impact causing death or grievous bodily harm.
If you currently have a ‘mandatory interlock order’ against you – these particular disqualifications cannot be removed under the scheme.
The offence-free period
The ‘offence-free’ period depends on the offence that led to your licence being disqualified.
You will need to show you had no driving offences for either 4 years or 2 years before the date you apply.
It will be 4 years if you are disqualified from driving because of any of these offences:
- A major offence (for example, drink driving, driving in a manner or speed that is dangerous);
- Exceeding the speed limit by more than 30km/h;
- Street racing;
- Aggravated burnout.
It will be 2 years if you have been disqualified from driving because:
- you were declared a ‘habitual traffic offender’; or
- you committed any other driving offences
Process for applying to have a disqualification removed
The process is outlined in the Act which states that before applying to the Local Court, you must complete a preliminary application with the Roads and Maritimes Services (RMS) called the Driving Record Application for Disqualification Removal Order.
Once the RMS has reviewed an application and determined your eligibility, a copy of your driving record and an eligibility status letter is sent to you. If you are deemed eligible by the RMS, you are then able to apply to the Local Court by filing an Application to Remove Driver Licence Disqualification.
You will need to attach to your application the RMS Driving Record and the Eligibility Status documents received from the RMS.
A fee is payable to the Local Court when lodging their application.
What will the court consider in making a decision?
The magistrate will take several matters into account, including:
- The safety of the public;
- Overall driving record;
- The type of offences that led to your licence being disqualified;
- Ability to use other means of transport;
- Your family, carer, work, education or other commitments;
- Your health and finances; and
- Anything else that is relevant.
If the Local Court decides to remove a licence disqualification, you will not be eligible to drive immediately.
You must re-apply to the RMS for a licence and complete the standard road safety and knowledge tests (and any other required tests). There is no circumstance where a disqualified person’s licence is returned to them without conditions.
You must not drive until they have had a valid licence issued to them from the RMS. Persons found driving before then could face a charge of unauthorised driving. This could cause the Court to reinstate the original disqualification with further penalties.
If the Local Court rejects an application to remove a licence disqualification, you cannot make another application to the Local Court until twelve (12) months have passed from the date of the Court decision refusing the removal. When the twelve months have elapsed, you will need to re-commence the application process and must meet the eligibility criteria outlined above.
Given the complexity of these applications, and the fact that legal aid is no longer available for applications to the Local Court to remove driver licence disqualifications, contacting a private lawyer is now even more important.