The complex traffic laws in NSW are changing again. Some big changes include:

  • the abolition of the Habitual Offender Declaration;
  • Reduction in maximum penalties for certain traffic offences;
  • Reduction in how long your licence can be disqualified for certain traffic offences; and
  • The ability to apply to the Court for the early removal of all your licence disqualifications.

These changes are expected to come into effect in October 2017.

Magistrates Will have Power to Remove all Licence Disqualifications

One of the big changes will allow you to make an application in the Local Court to remove all existing licence disqualifications.

You can only ask the court to remove all your periods of licence disqualification if any one of the following circumstances apply to you:

  • Circumstance 1:
    • Where any of the disqualifications were received due to a conviction for any one of the following offences:
    • You have not been convicted for any driving offence in the last 4 years
  • Circumstance 2:
    • Where your current disqualifications are from habitual traffic offender declarations; And
    • You have not been convicted for any driving offence in the last 2 years
  • Circumstance 3:
    • Where you do not fall in the above 2 circumstances; And
    • You have not been convicted for any driving offence in the last 2 years

Parking offences do not count as a driving offence here.

Who is Not Eligible to Make Applications to Remove Licence Disqualifications?

You will not be allowed to make an application to remove your licence disqualification if you have ever been convicted of any of the following offences (even if you were not disqualified from it):

  • Murder or manslaughter case by using a motor vehicle.
  • Offences of driving causing death, grievous bodily harm, or wounding under the Crimes Act.
  • Predatory driving, police pursuit (Sky’s law) under the Crimes Act.
  • Negligent driving causing death or grievous bodily harm.
  • Intentional menacing driving.
  • Failing to stop and assist after impact causing injury.

How to Convince the Court to Remove Licence Disqualifications

If you are eligible to make an application to remove your licence disqualifications, you can maximise your chances if you address the court on the following main points:

  • You are not a danger to the public.
  • The period you have been driving, and how often you drive on a daily basis.
  • Completion of an accredited traffic offenders program, and other positive things you have done since your disqualification. This is to demonstrate you are not a danger to the public.
  • Compelling explanation for the offences that resulted in the disqualifications.
  • Impact of the disqualifications on your family commitments.
  • Impact of the disqualification on your job and income. Your financial circumstances should be explained with evidence of bank documents.
  • Whether there is limited to no alternative way to transport- due to the odd hours you work or remote location(s) you are required to attend.

Can You Appeal if Court Refuses to Remove your Licence Disqualifications?

Unfortunately, you cannot appeal the Magistrate’s refusal to remove your disqualification period.

However, that doesn’t stop you from making another application in the Local Court to remove your licence disqualification. You will have to wait one year before you can make another application.

Abolition of the Habitual Traffic Offenders Declaration Scheme

Good news- The Habitual Offenders Declaration is being abolished. The RMS will no longer be allowed to disqualify your licence for a further 5 years by declaring you a habitual offender.

The habitual offenders declaration is where the RMS authority in NSW will disqualify your licence for a 5-year period- if you commit 3 or more ‘relevant offences’ in the last 5 years. Relevant offences include offences such as:

  • Drink driving
  • Drive while disqualified or suspended
  • Presence of illicit drug in your body while driving
  • Refuse or fail to give breath test, or altering amount of alcohol or drugs in your body
  • Attempt to use vehicle while under influence of alcohol
  • Exceeding speed limit by more than 45km/h
  • Driving in circumstances you have never been licensed

What Happens if Declared a Habitual Offender Immediately Before the Habitual Offender Declaration Scheme is Abolished?

You can still make an application to have your existing habitual traffic offenders declaration quashed, if you were declared a Habitual offender (receiving 5 years disqualification) immediately before it becomes abolished.

In other words, your 5 years habitual traffic offenders disqualification period will still apply, unless its quashed by the local court. In those circumstances, it may be quashed by the court before or after the introduction of its abolition in NSW.

Greater Police Power

Police will be given greater power to now:

  • confiscate your number plates, or
  • Impound your car

They can do this for a period of 3 months, or 6 months. They can only do this for 6 months where they do this due to you committing an offence of high range drink driving, racing, drag racing or police pursuit under the Crimes Act.

The further conditions in which police can confiscate your plate or impound your car is where the following apply to you:

  • You were caught driving while disqualified on this occasion; and
  • While committing this offence, you committed the offence of speeding over 30km/h or were never licensed in the last 5 years; and
  • In the last 5 years, you have at least 2 convictions of driving while disqualified or driving never licensed in the last 5 years; and
  • The vehicle being driven was registered in your name

There are other changes towards a reduction in penalties and disqualification periods for certain driving offences. This will give Courts more discretion to better recognise the devastating effects on people who are disqualified for unjustifiable periods of time.

AUTHOR Jimmy Singh

Mr. Jimmy Singh is the Principal Lawyer at Criminal Defence Lawyers Australia - Leading Criminal Lawyers in Sydney, Delivering Exceptional Results in all Australian Criminal Courts.

View all posts by Jimmy Singh