Disqualification Periods Slashed in NSW


On 28 October 2017, new laws came into effect reducing disqualification periods for driving without a valid licence, and abolishing the habitual offender scheme.

New disqualification periods

The new penalties can be summarised as follows:

Offence Penalty where it’s your first major traffic offence in the past 5 years Penalty where it’s your second or more major traffic offence in the past 5 years
Driving whilst suspended, disqualified, cancelled or refused – 6 months disqualification which may be reduced by the court to 3 months,

– Maximum fine of $3,300, and

– Maximum prison sentence of 6 months

– 12 months disqualification which may be reduced by the court to 6 months,

– Maximum fine of $5,500, and

– Maximum prison sentence of 12 months

Driving whilst suspended due to a fine default – 3 months disqualification which can be reduced by a court to 1 month, and

– Maximum fine of $3,300

– 12 months disqualification which can be reduced by a court to 3 months,

– Maximum fine of $5,500, and

– Maximum prison sentence of 6 months

Driving whilst unlicensed (never licensed) – Maximum fine of $2,200 – 12 months disqualification which can be reduced by a court to 3 months,

– Maximum fine of $3,300, and

– Maximum prison sentence of 6 months.

 

It is important to note that the magistrate can impose a period of disqualification above that which is prescribed – there is no maximum disqualification period.

It should also be borne in mind that section 10s are still available to the court. A section 10 (soon to be replaced by conditional release orders) means that a person is guilty but no conviction, disqualification, fine or other penalty is imposed.

Habitual offender declarations

Before the new laws were passed, a driver who was guilty of 3 or more ‘major traffic offences’ (eg drink driving, drug driving, driving whilst suspended/disqualified etc) within a 5 year period would ordinarily be declared a ‘habitual traffic offender’ – which meant the RMS would add an extra 5 years of disqualification on top of the court-ordered disqualification period for the 3rd and each later offence.

This resulted in many drivers being disqualified for several decades, with little prospect of ever getting their licences back.

The new laws abolish the habitual declaration scheme, meaning that those who commit 3 or more major traffic offences will no longer be hit with an extra 5 years by the RMS after they leave court.

Existing habitual offender disqualification periods will remain in effect. However, as outlined in a previous blog, certain habitual offenders will now be able to apply to get their licences back after 2 years without offending.

The new regime acknowledges that lengthy disqualifications do little to deter offending, and that giving people hope for the future encourages them to be gainful members of society


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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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