The Roads and Maritime Services (formerly the RTA) and Police may suspend your driver licence in certain circumstances.
For instance, you may have accrued too many demerit points resulting from traffic infringements or you may have committed a serious speeding offence. In many instances, you may be able to appeal the decision to suspend your licence to the magistrate in the Local Court. Section 266 of the Road Transport Act 2013 outlines the offences which can be appealed to the Local Court. The following types of suspensions are the common offences which are appealed:
1. A decision by the RMS to suspend a P1 or P2 driver for incurring more than 4 demerit points in the case of a P1 driver and more than 7 points or a P2 driver
2. A decision by the RMS to suspend licence for speeding over 30km/hr or over 45km/hr
3. A decision by the police to immediately suspend your licence
Considerations of the court
The Court will have regard to a range of factors when determining whether to quash or reduce the suspension.
In particular, the Magistrate will consider:
1. Your traffic record, driving history (where the offence is out of character your prospects of successfully appealing the suspension are stronger)
2. Your need for driver licence (eg work commitments, family commitments)
3. The circumstances of the offending (there may be extenuating circumstances at the time of the offence mitigating its objective seriousness)
4. Your good character
Completion of a traffic offender’s program may increase an offender’s prospects of successfully appealing a suspension as it demonstrates that the offender has taken steps to rehabilitate themselves. The program is offered at various locations throughout Sydney and our experts can help you seek an adjournment to participate in the program.
Many different types of offences will result in demerit points being noted on your traffic record.
The more serious the offence, the greater the demerit points attracted. The table below lists some traffic offences and the demerit points they attract:
|Exceed speed limit by 45km/hr||6|
|Exceed speed limit by 30km/hr but less than 45km/hr||5|
|Exceed speed limit by more than 20km/hr but less than 30km/hr||4|
|Exceed speed limit by more than 10km/hr but less than 20km/hr||3|
|Exceed speed limit by not more than 10km/hr||1|
|Disobey traffic light||3|
|Overtaking Vehicle when unsafe||2|
|Driver not wear seat belt||3|
|Failing to give way||3|
|Drive using mobile phone when not permitted||3|
|Disobey give way sign||3|
|Drive on path/nature strip||3|
|Not give way when merging||3|
|Not obey direction of police||3|
|Drive in bus lane||1|
During the long weekend, double demerit points apply for certain offences. Additionally, committing some offences in school zones result in the incursion of additional demerit points to that listed above. For a full list of traffic offences and corresponding demerit points refer to RMS website at... Reaching or exceeding the demerit points threshold within a 3 year period results in automatic licence suspension. The threshold limits are as follows:
• Unrestricted licence: 13 points
• Professional drivers: 14 points
• Provisional P2 licence: 7 points
• Provisional P1 Licence: 4 points
• Learner licence: 4 points
The period that you are suspended will depend on your type of licence and the number of points incurred. A learner driver and provisional driver will be suspended for 3 months. An unrestricted licence holder can be suspended between 3 to 5 months.
For full licence holders, it is not possible to appeal against a demerit points suspension, however you have the option of electing to be placed on a 12 month good behaviour licence instead of serving the period of suspension. If you incur 2 or more demerit points during the good behaviour period, you will be suspended for twice the length of the original period of suspension.
Provisional licence holders may on the other hand appeal to the Local Court against a demerit points suspension.
Immediate Police Suspensions
Police may immediately suspend your driver licence for the following offences pursuant to section 224 of the Road Transport Act 2013:
(a) if the driver is charged by a police officer (whether or not the same police officer) with an offence involving the death of, or grievous bodily harm to, another person caused by the use of a motor vehicle, being an offence that comprises:
(i) the crime of murder or manslaughter, or
(ii) an offence against section 33, 35 (2), 52A or 54 of the Crimes Act 1900 (i.e. A serious driving offence resulting in death or grievous bodily harm)
(b) if the driver is charged by the police officer or another police officer with offence against section 110 (4) or (5), 115 or 116 (2) or clause 16 (1) (b), 17 (1) (a1) or (2) or 18 (1) (a), (b) or (e) of Schedule 3 (i.e. Mid/high range drink driving offences)
(c) if it appears to a police officer (whether or not the same police officer) that the driver has committed an offence against this Act or the statutory rules (other than a camera recorded offence within the meaning of Division 2 of Part 7.3) of:
(i) exceeding a speed limit prescribed under this Act by more than 45 kilometres per hour, or
(ii) exceeding a speed limit prescribed under this Act by more than 30 kilometres per hour but not more than 45 kilometres per hour, as the holder of an applicable learner licence or applicable provisional licence for the class of vehicle being driven (i.e. serious speeding offences)
(d) if it appears to a police officer (whether or not the same police officer) that the driver has committed an offence against the statutory rules of being the holder of an applicable learner licence driving unaccompanied by a supervising driver.
Where police have exercised their discretion to suspend your licence on the spot, an appeal must be lodged within 28 days of the suspension notice being issued. The suspension will remain operative until the matter is heard by a Magistrate of the Local Court, therefore you must not drive a motor vehicle unless the court allows your appeal.
In determining an appeal against a decision by police to suspend your licence immediately, the Local Court will only make an order to vary or set aside the decision if satisfied that there are exceptional circumstances justifying a lifting or variation of the suspension.
Licence Appeal Process
Upon paying the fine for the offence attracting a period of suspension, the RMS will normally issue a Notice of Suspension, advising that your driver licence will be suspended at a date in the near future. Pursuant to section 267 of the Road Transport Act 2013, there is a 28 day deadline after the receipt of the notice to lodge an appeal to the Local Court. An extension of time cannot be granted. Similarly where Police have immediately suspended your licence, you have 28 days from the date the suspension was issued to lodge an appeal. The Court will allocate a date to hear your appeal once the application has been lodged.
Basis for Appeal
The Magistrate has wide powers to deal with appeals, including allowing the appeal (ie you retain your licence), dismissing the appeal (ie confirm the RMS suspension) or varying the period of suspension. Section 268 of the Road Transport Act 2013, states that the Local Court may determine an appeal:
(a) By setting aside the decision, or
(b) By varying the decision, or
(c) By dismissing the appeal, or
(d) By making such other order as seems just to the Court in the circumstances.
If you have been found to speed in excess of 30km/hr, the RMS will suspend your licence for 3 months and for an offence of speeding in excess of 45km/hr, you will be suspended for a 6 month period. In these circumstances it is possible to lodge a licence appeal after payment of the fine with the view to either quashing the suspension or reducing the period of the suspension.
At Bainbridge Legal we understand that going to court can be a nervous time for our clients.
We also understand that losing your driver licence can have a significant impact on you and your family. If you are facing a licence suspension it is important to obtain advice from experienced traffic lawyers. Our experienced team of lawyers have dealt with all types of driving matters and can provide you with the best advice and representation. Book an appointment with our traffic law experts and we will advise you on the best course of action in your circumstances.