Road Traffic Offences

I Might Lose My Drivers Licence, What If I Need It For Work?

TGB's criminal law team write about the legal options available to people facing a drivers licence disqualification in South Australia.

TGB’s criminal law team write about the legal options available to people facing a drivers licence disqualification in South Australia.


A common reaction from clients facing a drivers licence disqualification is that they cannot afford to lose their licence because they need it for work.  People often ask me if it is possible to be issued with a limited licence that allows them to only drive to and from work.  In some states, this is referred to as a “pardon for work”, “drive to work licence” or “work exemption”.

Unfortunately, the law in South Australia does not permit a drivers licence to be issued to someone for a limited purpose such as work.  Even if someone will lose their job if they do not have a licence, there is no scope in the legislation to allow someone to be issued with a licence which allows for a particular type of driving.

It is important to bear in mind that when a person is disqualified, their licence is cancelled. After the person has served their period of disqualification, they will have to apply for a new licence.  The new licence will in almost all circumstances be a probationary licence and will be subject to certain conditions:

– the person must not drive with any concentration of alcohol in their blood,

– the person must not incur two or more demerit points, and

– the licence must be carried on the person at all times when driving.

Depending on the circumstances, these probationary conditions will normally be attached to the licence for at least 12 months.

When someone is to be disqualified from driving, the Court will take into account the effect of a disqualification on the person’s employment when considering the period that someone should be disqualified.  However, for some offences such as drink driving or drug driving, there are minimum disqualification periods that the Court must enforce.  In order to achieve the minimum period of disqualification, the Court needs to be told about the effect that a licence disqualification will have on a person and their family as well as the circumstances surrounding the offending.

In some rare cases, depending on the circumstances surrounding the offending, the Court can be persuaded to depart from the minimum disqualification period and order the person to serve a reduced disqualification as low as one month.  This is known as a “trifling” application and can arise when it is a person’s first drink driving offence and there are circumstances which make the offence unusual.  Examples include driving a short distance to move a vehicle that is otherwise in danger or driving to take someone to hospital.  However, each case will depend on its particular facts.

A lawyer can help with giving you advice about whether disqualification can be reduced and how to give yourself the best chance of receiving the minimum disqualification possible.

For further information or advice contact your nearest TGB office