Key Takeaways

A restricted work licence allows a person to drive for work purposes while he or she is suspended or disqualified from driving. Driving on a restricted license is only available in Queensland, Western Australia, Australian Capital Territory and Tasmania. It’s not available in NSW, Victoria, SA and NT.

While this article outlines the laws on restricted work licences across Australia. Here is more on drink driving disqualifications in New South Wales.

Work License | Restricted Work Licence NSW

Can you get your licence early for work in NSW? A restricted licence, often referred to as a ‘work licence’, enables a person who has lost their licence to drive for employment purposes only.

Unfortunately, work licences are not available for drivers in New South Wales. Nor is there available a work exemption driver’s license in NSW.

If you have lost your licence, there is no provision enabling an application to be made to the court to be able to drive purely for the purposes of attending work.

They are also unavailable in Victoria, South Australia, and the Northern Territory.

However, work licences are available in Queensland, Western Australia, the ACT, and Tasmania.

Work licences can restrict the times of day you drive, the reasons for which you can drive, the locations, distance, the type of vehicle, and who can be a passenger in the vehicle.

This is essentially to restrict the use of one’s vehicle to the specified circumstances directly connected with a driver’s employment means.

Those with restricted licences may be required to complete a logbook or have their work uniform on whilst driving.

While a restricted drivers licence in NSW is not available, New South Wales laws do provide good behaviour licence options in certain circumstances.

Work Licence Qld | Restrict Licence Qld

Applying for a work licence in Qld? In Queensland, you may only apply for a restricted licence if you have been disqualified of certain offences, pursuant to section 87 of the Transport Operations (Road Use Management) Act 1995 (QLD).

These offences are:

  • Drink driving (drink driving Qld work licence),
  • Driving with a relevant drug (cannabis, ecstasy, or ice) in the blood or saliva, or
  • Refusing to provide a roadside breathe sample.

Those who have been charged with driving or being in charge of a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, will not be eligible for a restricted licence, as these are considered more serious offences.

A blood alcohol content of 0.15 percent or more will be considered ‘under the influence’.

Furthermore, one will be ineligible if they refused to provide a breath sample at the police station, rather than at roadside when pulled over.

The application must be made at the time one is convicted of a relevant offence, and before the court orders the disqualification period.

Pursuant to section 87(5), an application will not be granted if the applicant, within 5 years before the application is made:

  • Has been disqualified from driving, or had their licence suspended or cancelled, or
  • Has been previously convicted of a drink driving, drug driving or dangerous driving offence.

A restricted license will also not be granted if the offence was committed whilst driving for work purposes, whilst driving a vehicle they were not authorised to or whilst already under a work licence.

In an application for a work licence, the court must be satisfied that:

  • the applicant is a fit and proper person to hold a restricted licence, having regard to the safety of other road users and the public generally, and
  • a refusal would cause extreme hardship to the applicant or their family by depriving the applicant of their means of earning.

To satisfy ‘extreme hardship’ it must be shown that you’ll lose your job, and thus your income, if you’re unable to get a work licence.

This can include if there is no public transport available or if no one is able to drive the applicant to and from work.

If an applicant is not self-employed, they must produce an affidavit from their employer confirming that they would lose their job and income if they can’t be provided with a work licence.

If granted a work licence, a person must drive the moto vehicle in accordance with the restrictions imposed, or they may face further penalties, as outlined in section 87(10).

A maximum penalty of a fine of up to $2,757 is applicable.

Pursuant to section 87(10A), the person’s work licence will also be cancelled upon conviction, with an additional disqualification period of 3 months applicable (on top of the disqualification for the original offence that prompted the person to apply for a work licence).

Restrict Work Licence in the ACT

In the Australian Capital Territory, restricted licences may be granted, upon application, by the court, pursuant to various conditions outlined in Division 3.7 of the Road Transport (Driver Licensing) Regulation 2000 (ACT).

Pursuant to the Road Transport (General) Act 1999 (ACT), those subject to the following circumstances will be ineligible to apply for a restricted licence:

  • Those disqualified from driving in another Australian jurisdiction, (section 66A),
  • Those who have been disqualified as a result of an offence, and are a ‘repeat offender’ for the offence to which the disqualification relates (section 67),
  • Drink driving, where the prescribed concentration of alcohol for the person is 0.05g or more (section 67A(2)),
  • Those who have been disqualified until a court orders otherwise (section 67B),
  • Those who have been disqualified while already holding an existing restricted licence (section 67C),
  • Those disqualified as a result of default in payment of an outstanding fine (section 88(4)),
  • Those disqualified from holding a licence through incurring 2 or more demerit points while holding a probationary licence (section 133(2)(b)) or restricted licence (section 130(6)(b)).

If a person has been convicted of an offence carrying an automatic disqualification period, they are unable to apply for a restricted licence until the end of the minimum period of disqualification applying to that offence.

The court will only authorise a restricted licence to be issued if the person establishes that there are exceptional circumstances justifying the issue of the licence, as per section 47 in the Road Transport (Driver Licensing) Regulation 2000 (ACT).

Section 47(2) outlines the considerations that the court must have regard to when considering whether exceptional circumstances exist, including:

  • The person’s history of traffic offences,
  • any relevant rehabilitation or remedial action undertaken, or to be undertaken, by the person,
  • the risk to the safety of other road users,
  • the likelihood that the person, or anyone else affected by the outcome of the application, would suffer, or incur any unreasonable inconvenience or loss (actual or potential) if a restricted licence were not to be issued to the person,
  • whether it would be unreasonable for the person to use an alternative means of transport, including public transport,
  • the likelihood of the person’s health, or the health of a dependant of the person, suffering or being put at risk, if a restricted licence were not to be issued to the person,
  • the likelihood of the person complying with any conditions of a restricted licence.

Any application for a restricted licence must be accompanied by an affidavit setting out the grounds for what exceptional circumstances are proposed to exist.

Supporting evidence must also be supplied such as a statement from ones’ employer or other documentation.

Those convicted of eligible drink or drug driving offences must complete an alcohol and drug awareness course before they can be granted a restricted licence.

It is an offence to, without reasonable excuse, contravene a condition to which a restricted licence is subject, pursuant to section 33 of the Road Transport (Driver Licensing) Act 1999 (ACT).

A maximum penalty of a $8,000 fine and/or 6 months imprisonment is applicable.

The restricted licence will automatically be cancelled upon conviction.

The holder of the restricted licence will then be unable to apply for another restricted licence for the duration of the period for which they were originally disqualified from holding or obtaining a driver licence.

Restricted Licence Tasmania

In Tasmania, a restricted licence may be granted to those liable to be suspended or cancelled because of an accumulation of demerit points, a disqualification order made by the court or as a result of an automatic suspension associated with a traffic offence.

Restricted licences are governed under section 18 of the Vehicle and Traffic Act 1999 (Tas).

Those who fall into the following circumstances are not entitled to apply for a restricted licence:

  • your licence is, or is liable to be, suspended because of an accumulation of demerit points, and you are able to enter into an undertaking for a period of good driving behaviour, but have not done so,
  • you never have or do not currently hold a current Australian driver licence and can’t apply for one, because of the demerit points you’ve accumulated,
  • you are a novice driver who has not held a provisional licence for a continuous period of 12 months or; you are a P1 licence holder who has been (or will be) regressed to an L2 licence
  • you have been disqualified from driving due to an excessive drink driving notice that hasn’t been cancelled or determined by a Court.

Furthermore, those who have committed the following offences, under the Road Safety (Alcohol and Drugs) Act 1972 (Tas), are ineligible to apply:

  • you were driving with a blood alcohol content equal to or greater than 0.15%,
  • you were driving under the influence of a drug or alcohol,
  • you objected to a blood/urine sample analysis,
  • you refused or failed to submit to a breath analysis/blood sample/medical examination
  • you held a learner or provisional licence at the time of your offence (unless your offence was driving with an illicit prescribed drug in your blood), or
  • you drove a vehicle without the appropriate licence at the time of the offence.

Pursuant to section 18(5) of the Vehicle and Traffic Act 1999 (Tas), the court will only make an order for a restricted licence if it is satisfied that:

  • the licence suspension or disqualification is imposing, or will impose, severe and unusual hardship on the applicant or the applicant’s dependants; and
  • a restricted driver licence should be issued to mitigate or alleviate that hardship; and
  • the issue of the restricted driver licence would not be contrary to the public interest.

An application will need to include a statement of available forms of transport and why they are not adequate for the needs of the applicant or the applicant’s dependants.

This can include public transport timetables, taxi or other rideshare quotes, or proof that relatives or other associates cannot drive you.

If a person issued with a restricted licence breaches its conditions, penalties apply, as outlined in section 18(10).

A maximum penalty of a $6,920 fine and/or 6 months imprisonment is applicable in the case of a first offence, and a fine of $13,840 and/or 12 months imprisonment for a second or subsequent offence.

It is also an offence to employ, cause or permit the holder of a restricted driver licence to drive a motor vehicle in breach of a condition of the licence, as per section 18(11).

For a first offence, a maximum penalty of a $34,600 fine is applicable for a corporation, or a $6,920 fine and/or 6 months imprisonment for an individual.

For a second or subsequent offence, a maximum penalty of a $69,200 fine is applicable for a corporation, or a fine of $13,840 and/or 12 months imprisonment for an individual.

A defence is provided where it is proven that the defendant did not know, and could not reasonably be expected to have known, that the driver was driving in breach of a condition.

Restrict Court Licence Western Australia

In Westen Australia, a restricted licence is referred to as an ‘extraordinary licence’ and is governed under Division 3 of the Road Traffic (Authorisation to Drive) Act 2008 (WA).

An application for an extraordinary licence cannot be made while subject to:

  • immediate disqualification notice for an alcohol offence,
  • a disqualification period related to an accumulation of demerit points,
  • a licence suspension order imposed due to unpaid fines, and
  • a disqualification period imposed by a Court in another Australian jurisdiction.

There are minimum waiting periods before an extraordinary licence application can be made, dependant on the number or nature of offences resulting in the disqualification, are outlined in section 28.

Whilst the most common waiting period is 28 days, they can also be up to 4 months.

In the event an unsuccessful application is made, a person must wait 6 months prior to making another.

As per section 30(4), the applicable test that must be satisfied if the court is to grant an extraordinary licence, is that the refusal of the application would:

  • deprive the applicant of the means of obtaining urgent medical treatment for an illness, disease or disability known to be suffered by the applicant or a person who is a member of their family;
  • place an undue financial burden on the applicant or their family, by depriving the applicant of their principal means of obtaining income; or
  • deprive the applicant or a person who is a member of the applicant’s family of the only practicable means of travelling to and from the place at which the applicant or that person is employed.

Pursuant to section 30(2), the court is to have regard to the:

  • safety of the public generally,
  • character of the applicant,
  • circumstances of the case,
  • nature of the offence or offences giving rise to the disqualification,
  • conduct of the applicant subsequent to the disqualification.

It is an offence to breach the conditions imposed by an extraordinary licence, with an applicable maximum penalty of a $1,200 fine, as per section 38.

The court is able to cancel the extraordinary licence, however, may decide not to do so where a fine is determined to be an adequate punishment for the offence.

Here is more on demerit points suspensions in NSW.

For more personalised advice, speak to our drink driving lawyers today.


By Poppy Morandin.

AUTHOR Criminal Defence Lawyers Australia

Criminal Defence Lawyers Australia are Leading Criminal Defence Lawyers, Delivering Exceptional Results in all Australian Courts.

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