On 28 October 2017, new laws came into effect which abolished the habitual offender scheme in NSW.
The laws mean that fresh habitual offender declarations can no longer be made.
However, the declarations remain effective for those who were declared habitual offenders before the commencement of the new rules.
This means habitual offenders who want to get their licences back early will need to apply to the local court to remove the disqualification periods.
Click on a link below for more information about habitual offender declarations and how to get your licence back early.
What is a Habitual Offender Declaration?
Before 28 October 2017, those who were guilty of three or more ‘major traffic offences’ (eg drink driving, drug driving, driving without a valid licence etc) within a five year period were automatically declared to be ‘habitual traffic offenders.’
In that case, the RMS would add an extra five year disqualification period to the disqualification imposed by the court, for the third and every additional major traffic offence within a five year period. The scheme has resulted in many drivers receiving disqualification periods of several decades.
However, new laws came into effect on 28 October 2017 abolishing the habitual offender scheme.
Despite the abolition, drivers who were declared habitual offenders before the commencement of the new laws will still need to apply to the local court for the removal of disqualification periods resulting from those declarations.
Getting rid of your licence disqualifications
Section 220 of the Road Transport Act 2013 says that a court can quash a habitual offender declaration if it “determines that the disqualification imposed by the declaration is a disproportionate and unjust consequence having regard to the total driving record of the person and the special circumstances of the case”. An application can be made under this section at any time.
New laws also came into effect on 28 October 2017 providing a mechanism for habitual offenders to apply for the removal of disqualification periods where:
- The remaining disqualification period/s relate to habitual offender declaration/s only, and
- The driver has not committed a traffic offence for at least 2 years.
Parking tickets are not counted as driving offences for the purpose of the section.
Is anyone ineligible to apply?
You will not be eligible to apply for the removal of your disqualifications if you’ve ever been guilty of one or more of the following offences:
- Any Crimes Act offence which includes death, grievous bodily harm or wounding by the use of a motor vehicle,
- Predatory driving,
- Police pursuit (Skye’s law),
- Negligent driving causing death or grievous bodily harm,
- Intentional menacing driving, or
- Failing to stop and assist after a collision.
How do I apply?
The application is filed in a NSW local court specifying that it is made under section 221B of the Road Transport Act 2013.
The application should be accompanied by an up-to-date driving record and particulars of any ‘pending proceedings’ for alleged driving offences.
A court date will be allocated at the time of filing.
What will the court look at?
On the court date, a magistrate will determine whether it is “appropriate” to remove all of your existing licence disqualifications.
In making that decision, the magistrate will need to take into account:
- The safety of the public,
- Your driving record, including any pending proceedings for driving offences,
- Whether you drove or were in a position to drive during the offence free period (ie the applicable 2 or 4 years outlined above),
- Your conduct after you were disqualified,
- The nature of the offence/s which gave rise to your disqualification/s,
- Any other relevant matters, including the availability of alternative forms of transport and the impact of the disqualification/s on:
- your capacity to travel for employment, business, education or training purposes,
- your ability to carry out carer or family responsibilities,
- your health, and
- your finances.
Persuading the court
The relevant information can be communicated to the magistrate through:
- character references from your employer or prospective employer, your business partner/s or work colleague/s, and/or anyone you provide care for, which should explain your need for a driver licence,
- a letter from you explaining your situation, including the hardship you experienced whilst disqualified and your need for a licence,
- any relevant medical letters from your doctor/s, or the doctor/s of anyone you are caring for, explaining the need for a licence,
- any relevant financial documents, and
- verbal submissions from you (if you are self-represented) or your lawyer inside the courtroom.
Why Choose Sydney Criminal Lawyers®?
Going to court can be nerve-racking, but having a strong and compassionate legal team behind you can make the experience significantly easier to deal with.
Here are 12 reasons to choose our multi-award winning legal team:
- Proven Track Record of Exceptional Results – Sydney Criminal Lawyers® consistently achieves outcomes which are in the highest percentile of the Judicial Commission’s sentencing statistics for criminal cases. Our legal team devises effective case-strategies and fights hard to have cases dropped entirely or charges downgraded – saving clients the time, expense and stress of a defended hearing or jury trial. Where cases nevertheless proceed, our lawyers have an outstanding track record of winning defended Local Court hearings, and complex jury trials in the District and Supreme Courts.We also consistently win appeals in the District and Supreme Courts (including the NSWCCA) after clients have received unsatisfactory results with other law firms in the lower courts.We are one of the few firms to achieve successful criminal law appeals in the High Court of Australia.Where our clients wish to plead guilty, we frequently achieve ‘dismissals’ and ‘non convictions’ in cases where other lawyers have advised there is no chance of doing so.
- Highest Level of Client Satisfaction – We have the best and most comprehensive client review record of any law firm in Australia. Regular communication, accessibility and quality service are our team’s highest priorities. We are committed to thoroughly explaining all steps involved in the criminal law process, providing regular updates throughout the proceedings, and making ourselves accessible and responsive.We are passionate about providing an exceptional level of service to our clients, and we fight hard to achieve optimal results in the shortest period of time.
- Australia’s Most Awarded Criminal Law Firm – We have received more awards and accolades than any other criminal law firm in Australia. Our team has been awarded “Criminal Defence Firm of the Year in Australia” in a number of prestigious and competitive awards programs for several years running. The awards recognise our exceptional track record of results, our outstanding client service, the high level of satisfaction we achieve, the affordability of our services and our overall excellence.
- Fixed Fees – We want our clients to know exactly how much their cases will cost from the very start. That’s why we were the first criminal law firm in Australia to publish ‘fixed fees’, back in 2004. We offer fixed fees for most types of criminal cases and services.Our fixed fees apply to a range of Local Court cases such as drink driving, drug possession, fraud, common assault and AVOs, and also specific services such as prison visits, bail applications, appeals and defended hearings.Unlike many other law firms, our fixed fees are published on our website – which ensures transparency and certainty.
- Free First Appointment – For those who are going to court, we offer a free first conference of up to an hour with one of our Senior Criminal Defence Lawyers. We also offer a free first conference to those who have received an unsatisfactory result after being represented in court by another law firm, or after representing themselves, and wish to appeal.
- Specialist Lawyer Guarantee – We guarantee that only lawyers with substantial criminal defence experience will work on your case and appear for you in court. This ensures our clients receive the highest quality representation from an experienced, specialist criminal lawyer.
- All NSW Courts – From Bombala to Broken Hill, our lawyers appear in courts throughout New South Wales – and across Australia for Commonwealth cases. And we offer fixed fees for most criminal and traffic law cases throughout the state.
- Accredited Specialists
– Our entire firm is exclusively dedicated to criminal law – which makes us true specialists. All of our lawyers have years of experience representing clients in criminal cases, and our principal has been certified by the Law Society of NSW as an Accredited Criminal Law Specialist since 2005. An ‘Accredited Specialist’ is a lawyer who has practised for at least 5 years in a particular field of law (such as criminal law), has passed a rigorous assessment process conducted by the Law Society of NSW, and has been selected by the Specialist Accreditation Committee of the Law Society as an expert in the field. Accredited Specialists are required to undertake more training each year than other lawyers and must be successful in having their accreditation renewed every year. Specialist Accreditation is the mark of a true specialist.Our firm’s specialist experience ensures you receive the best possible result, whatever your criminal law case may be.
- Results-Focused Law Firm – Our team is passionate about achieving results, and unlike many other law firms, our lawyers do not have monthly financial ‘budgets’ to meet. The absence of budgets means our lawyers are entirely focused on achieving optimal results in the shortest space of time; whether by getting charges dropped or downgraded at an early stage or having cases ‘thrown out of court’. Not having budgets also means our lawyers are not under pressure to engage in unscrupulous practices such as unnecessarily adjourning cases or ‘overcharging’ clients – which, sadly, is a common complaint against many other lawyers and law firms.No budgets encourages regular consultation between lawyers within the firm – promoting an ‘open door’, team environment where lawyers bounce ideas off one another, formulate case strategy together and benefit from each other’s specialised experience, methods, techniques and insights.The result is a firm which delivers optimal outcomes in the shortest time periods, at the least expense and stress to our clients.
- Team of Lawyers Behind You – Our clients benefit from the pool of knowledge that only an extensive team of experienced criminal defence lawyers can provide. Our lawyers regularly consult one another to stay ‘ahead of the pack’ in the ever-changing field of criminal law – constantly devising, refining and implementing specialised techniques which ensure our clients achieve the best possible outcomes. A team approach is particularly important when it comes to serious criminal cases such as murder, commercial drug cases, serious and sexual assaults, large-scale fraud, robbery and other ‘indictable’ cases.In such matters, clients reap the benefits of several lawyers devising and executing case strategies which maximise the chances of having cases dropped or downgraded at an early stage, or ‘thrown out of court’ – often saving clients a great deal of cost, time and anxiety.
- Familiar with Magistrates and Judges – Each of our lawyers appears in court on a daily basis, and has done so for years. We have therefore been able to develop an understanding of, and rapport with, magistrates and judges in Sydney and indeed across the state. Our team’s extensive experience before the courts ensures your case is tailored to the specific nuances of individual judicial officers, maximising the likelihood of a favourable result.
- Convenience – We have offices in locations across the Sydney Metropolitan Area and beyond, including:
- the Sydney CBD, on Castlereagh Street, directly opposite Downing Centre Court,
- Liverpool, directly opposite Liverpool Local Court, and
- Parramatta, near the justice precinct.
We offer free parking at our Sydney CBD and Liverpool locations, and all of our offices are close to train stations and bus terminals.
For those who are unable to attend our offices, we offer conferences by telephone, Skye and FaceTime anywhere around the world.
If you are going to court and wish to arrange a free first consultation, call our 24 hour hotline on (02) 9261 8881 or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.