Criminal law

I Might Lose My Driver’s Licence, What If I Need It For Work?

Kevin Raison, a Senior Associate in TGB’s criminal law team, writes about the legal options available to people facing a drivers licence disqualification in South Australia.

drivers licenceA common reaction from clients facing a court-imposed driver’s licence disqualification, is that they cannot afford to lose their licence because they need it for work.  People often ask us if it is possible to be issued with a limited licence that allows them to only drive to and from work.

Unfortunately, the law in South Australia does not permit a driver’s 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. A court also has no discretion to allow someone to drive in specific circumstances, for example, between certain hours for work only. In most cases, including those convicted of a drink driving offence, the court also has no ability to reduce the period of disqualification set out in the legislation.

It is important to bear in mind that when a person is disqualified by a court, their licence is also cancelled. After the person has served their period of disqualification, it’s imperative that they apply for a new licence.  It is also an offence punishable by imprisonment and a minimum 3-year period of disqualification, to drive unlicenced after a period of disqualification. The new licence will also usually be a probationary licence and will be subject to certain conditions, including but not limited to:

  • the person must not drive with any concentration of alcohol in their blood,
  • the person must have an alcohol interlock device installed, and
  • the licence must be carried on the person at all times when driving.

Depending on the circumstances, these probationary conditions may 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 impact of a disqualification on the person’s employment when considering the disqualification period. 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 period 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, for example, and there are circumstances which make the offence unusual.  Other examples might include driving a very 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, and trifling applications are rarely granted.

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

Get in touch!

If you’d like any further information about driver’s licence disqualifications or any other driving offences, TGB’s criminal law team can help!

Get in touch with us on 1800 730 842 or contact your nearest TGB office