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.
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.
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.
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