Changes to Traffic Legislation – October 2017

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There are significant changes to traffic legislation which will start from 28 October 2017.

The important changes are as follows:

  1.     Reducing the penalties and disqualification periods for the offences of Driving whilst Suspended, Driving whilst Licence Refused, Driving whilst Licence Cancelled and Driving Whilst Disqualified;
  2.     To allow applications to be made at Court before your Court ordered disqualification has expired to obtain your licence earlier; and
  3.     The abolition of the Habitual Traffic Offender declaration.

New Disqualification Periods

OffenceDefault PeriodMinimum Period
Never Licensed (2nd or subsequent offence).12 months3 months
Drive Disqualified, Suspended, Licence Refused or Licence Cancelled (1st offence).6 months3 months
Drive Disqualified, Suspended, Licence Refused or Licence Cancelled (2nd offence).12 months6 months
Drive Licence Suspended or Cancelled for non-payment of fine (1st offence).3 months1 month
Drive Licence Suspended or Cancelled for non-payment of fine (2nd offence).12 months3 months

*2nd Offence means second offence within 5 years.

New Maximum Gaol Terms

OffenceMaximum Gaol Term
Never Licensed (2nd or subsequent offence).6 months
Drive Disqualified, Suspended, Licence Refused or Licence Cancelled (1st offence).6 months
Drive Disqualified, Suspended, Licence Refused or Licence Cancelled (2nd offence).12 months
Drive Licence Suspended or Cancelled for non-payment of fine (2nd offence).6 months

*2nd Offence means second offence within 5 years.

Commencement of Disqualification Period

Prior to the legislative amendments, when a Court convicted and made an order for a disqualification of licence, the disqualification period would have started at the end of the current disqualification period that you were serving at the time you appeared in court for the new offence.

As a result of the new amendments, any disqualification period imposed by a court will date from the date of conviction. However, the court still has the power to specify a later commencement date.

The court is also required to take into account any period of immediate suspension when deciding the appropriate disqualification period.

Removing Existing Disqualification Periods (getting your license back earlier)

A disqualified person is now able to make an application to the Local Court to remove licence disqualifications if:

(a) the disqualified person has not been convicted of any driving offence conduct during the relevant offence – free period before the removal of the licence disqualifications, and

(b) the Local Court considers that it is appropriate to do so.

The relevant offence – free period is as follows:

(i) 4 years, if the disqualification was for a ‘major offence’(e.g. drink-driving), speeding more than 30 km/h or more, street racing, aggravated burnout  or driving in a dangerous (which is itself a major offence).

(ii) 2 years, if the disqualification period arises out of being declared a habitual traffic offender or any other offence (e.g. driving disqualified or suspended).

When the Local Court is considering whether to remove the licence disqualifications, will take into account the following factors:

(a) the safety of the public,       

(b) driving record,

(c) whether you drove or was in a position to drive a vehicle during the relevant offence – free period,

(d) any relevant conduct of subsequent to the licence disqualifications,

(e) the nature of the offence or offences giving rise to the licence disqualification is,

(f) any other relevant circumstances (e.g. the capacity to carry out family or carer responsibilities, travel for employment purposes etc, and

(g) any other matter prescribed by the statutory rules.

A disqualified person will not be eligible to make an application to the Local Court for the removal of licence qualifications if you have been convicted of the offence of murder or manslaughter caused by using a motor vehicle, an offence under the Crimes Act 1900 causing death, grievous bodily harm or wounding by the use of a motor vehicle, predatory driving or being involved in a police pursuit, negligent driving causing death or grievous bodily harm, menacing driving, failing to stop and assist after a vehicle impact causing death or grievous bodily harm, or if you are subject to a mandatory interlock order.

Habitual Traffic Offenders Declaration

The Habitual Traffic Offenders scheme has now been abolished. However, any existing disqualifications under a Habitual Traffic Offender Declaration remains in place. One can still make an application to the Local Court to quash an existing Habitual Traffic Offenders Declaration so that you can obtain your licence earlier.

Increased Police Powers

The Police now have further powers to impose vehicle sanctions which include confiscating number-plates or vehicles for a period of three or six months.

If you have been charged with any of the above offences or you believe that you are able to obtain your licence earlier, you should contact the lawyers at Benjamin and Leonardo Criminal Defence Lawyers to see how we can achieve the best possible outcome for you.