When can Police Suspend my Licence on the Spot?

Sometimes police can suspend your driver’s licence on the spot if they allege you have committed a serious traffic offence.

They can do this immediately after you have been pulled-over, or within 48 hours afterwards.

Driving licence suspension notices take effect either from the day which you received the notice in the mail or, if you were suspended on the spot by police, from that moment that they handed you the licence suspension notice.

The Road Transport Act 2013 outlines the situations in which police have the power to suspend your licence immediately.

These include:

  •     Serious offences causing death or grievous bodily harm;
  •     High range speeding;
  •     Alcohol-related offences;
  •     Street racing, or attempts on speed records or trials;
  •     Aggravated burnout offences; and
  •     A person holding a learner licence driving without a supervisor in the car

Serious driving offences that can cause death or grievous bodily harm allow police to suspend your licence immediately.

Grievous bodily harm means that the harm suffered is really severe – such as the permanent or serious disfiguring of a person.

Injuries of this nature include those like broken bones, damage to internal organs and the killing of an unborn foetus.

High range speeding is another offence for which police may suspend your licence – if you get caught doing 45km or more over the limit, you could lose your licence immediately for six months.

For provisional drivers, this is increased to speeding offences of 30km or more over the limit.

Provisional drivers going over 30km per hour over the limit but less than 45km may have their licences suspended for three months.

Immediate suspension of licences for speeding does not include speeding that was detected by camera.

The next category is for some offences involving alcohol.

The most obvious example is drink driving – but refusal to submit to a breath analysis test also comes under this category,  as does doing anything to alter the concentration of alcohol in a persons breath or blood during a test.

You cannot get your licence suspended immediately for a low range PCA (Prescribed Concentration of Alcohol).

But you can for having a middle or high range PCA. A mid-range PCA is anywhere between 0.08 and 0.149 and a high range is anything over 0.15.

Street racing offences include races between vehicles, trying to break the speed record on any road, testing the speed of any vehicle, or skill of a driver on the road.

These will all give police the power to suspend your licence on the spot.

Aggravated burnout offences are also punishable by immediate licence suspension and it worth mentioning that this also includes passengers who are active participants.

This means that even non-drivers encourage others to participate in hoon activities, or cheering them on can be punished.

Filming or photographing this activity for the purposes of encouraging it also comes under the category of aggravated burnout offences.

A learner driver who caught is without a supervisor present can also face immediate licence suspension for three months.

Anytime that police issue an immediate suspension, you will be charged with an offence and have to go to court.

The suspension that they issue will remain in place until then, even if you disagree with it.

You can fight the suspension in court, however until your hearing, you must abide by the suspension.

Driving without a licence is certainly best avoided as the law is pretty heavy-handed on those who continue to drive without a licence.

The penalties can include a criminal conviction, a fine or even jail time as well as a further period of disqualification.

If the court finds you guilty and disqualifies you from driving, they may take into account the time you have already been off the road and shorten your period of disqualification accordingly.

If your licence does expire while you are suspended, you cannot renew it until you have finished your suspension period.

As a general rule, you will need to apply for a new licence at the RMS once you are allowed to drive again.

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About Ugur Nedim

Ugur Nedim is an Accredited Specialist Criminal Lawyer and Principal at Sydney Criminal Lawyers, Sydney's leading firm of criminal and traffic defence lawyers.
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