Impact of an automatic driver’s licence suspension
The privilege to drive is an essential part of everyday life. We all need our driver’s licence to drive to work, to take our kids to school, to get our elderly relatives to the doctors and even run our businesses. So when your licence is suspended, the effects can be very debilitating – the hardship occasioned may have far-reaching consequences for you and your family.
What does it mean when my driver’s licence is suspended?
When your driver’s licence is suspended, you are no longer permitted to drive for a specified period of time. Driving whilst your licence is suspended is a criminal offence.
How can my driver’s licence get suspended?
There are two types of driver’s licence suspensions that may apply.
1. Demerit point suspension
A demerit point suspension applies when you have been penalised with enough demerit points to get you over the suspension threshold.
The thresholds are:
- Unrestricted licence – 13 demerit points
- Provisional P2 licence – 7 demerit points
- Provisional P1 licence – 4 demerit points
- Learner licence – 4 demerit points
The Roads and Maritime Service (RMS) will issue a Notice of Suspension and advise you of the period for which you cannot drive.
For full-licenced drivers, the period of licence suspension depends on the number of demerit points accrued:
- 13 to 15 demerit points – 3 months
- 16 to 19 demerit points – 4 months
- 20 or more demerit points – 5 months
For provisional and learner licence holders, the suspension period is three months.
2. Automatic suspension
An automatic suspension is imposed by police when you are caught committing a serious traffic offence. When this happens, you may be brought back to a Police Station and have your driver’s licence confiscated, potentially not getting it back until your traffic offence is finalised in court.
- Excess speed by more than 45 km/hr (6 months suspension)
- Excess speed by more than 30 km/hr (3 months suspension)
- Drive whilst with Mid-range PCA (Suspended until court date)
- Drive whilst with High-range PCA (Suspended until court date)
Any period of automatic suspension is in addition to any period of demerit point suspension that may apply.
By way of illustration, suppose Sam is a full-licenced driver who is presently on 7 demerit points. Sam is caught by Police in Sydney speeding at 45km/hr over the limit. As a result, Sam will have his licence automatically suspended by Police for a period of 6 months. Also, Sam will be penalised with 6 demerit points for this traffic offence. This will take him over the threshold for a demerit point suspension, and he will be penalised with an additional 3 months suspension.
I can’t afford to lose my driver’s licence. What can I do?
The law recognises that people do make mistakes, and so gives people a second-chance. There are different ways of getting your driver’s licence back depending on whether you receive a Demerit Point Suspension or Automatic Suspension.
When you receive a Demerit Point Suspension, you have the option of electing to go on good-behaviour. This means that you will not serve the period of suspension, but that you must not commit any offences during the course of one year. If however you accumulate 2 or more points during the good-behaviour period (one year), your driver’s licence will be suspended for double the original suspension period. When this happens, you should consult a traffic lawyer to see what your options are.
When you receive an Automatic Suspension, you may lodge a Licence Appeal. A Licence Appeal is an appeal against an automatic suspension. This involves going to the Local Court with a traffic lawyer and proving extenuating circumstances as to why the automatic suspension should either be waived entirely, or reduced.
Full-licenced drivers cannot lodge an appeal against a Demerit Point Suspension. Only Provisional P1 and P2 Drivers can.
Time limits apply – 28 days is the time in which any Appeal must be lodged after you receive the RMS notification letter or find out that you are suspended.