New penalties for driving while disqualified commence 28 October 2017
The NSW Government has announced reforms to the driver licence disqualification system.
The reforms will allow:
- police to confiscate number plates or vehicles (for 3 or 6 months) for repeat unauthorised drivers and those who commit certain serious driving offences.
- courts to lift the disqualification period for those who can demonstrate a commitment to lawful behaviour and who have been compliant with their disqualification period for 2 or 4 years (depending on the original charge).
- introduce automatic and minimum disqualification periods for unauthorised driving offences and revise maximum imprisonment terms for unauthorised driving offence penalties.
- abolish the Habitual Traffic Offender Scheme, which has been proven not to be a deterrent. There is no equivalent scheme in any other Australian jurisdiction.
- exclude anyone ever convicted of driving offences involving death or grievous bodily harm from applying to reduce their disqualification term.
Attorney General Mark Speakman when discussing the reforms, stated:
“This overhaul of driver licence disqualification laws rebalances the system in favour of people who prove they can steer their lives back on track, while providing police with extra on-the-spot powers to punish repeat disqualified driving offenders.”
How do you set aside a disqualification period?
A significant amendment will now allow the Local Court to remove all previously imposed licence disqualification periods if:
- the disqualified person has not been convicted of any further driving offences during the relevant offence-free period; and
- the Local Court considers that it is appropriate to do so
The Local Court must consider the following matters when determining whether it is appropriate to remove the licence disqualifications:
- the safety of the public;
- the applicant’s driving record;
- whether the applicant drove or was able to drive a vehicle during the relevant offence-free period (i.e. they may have been in gaol);
- any relevant conduct of the applicant subsequent to the licence disqualifications;
- the nature of the offence or offences giving rise to the licence disqualifications,
- any other relevant circumstances (including, without limitation, the impact of the licence disqualifications on the applicant’s capacity to carry out family or carer responsibilities or on the applicant’s capacity to travel for the purposes of employment, business, education or training, the applicant’s health and finances and the availability of alternative forms of transport);
- any other matter prescribed by the statutory rules.
Licence disqualifications that are removed by order of the Local Court cease to have effect on the date the order is made or on such later date as is specified by the Local Court.
When it removes licence disqualifications, the Local Court is to explain the effect of the order to the applicant and that the applicant will require a new driver licence before driving a motor vehicle.
The Local Court may adjourn proceedings so that the applicant may participate in a driver education course or other program the Local Court considers appropriate.
An appeal cannot be made against a decision of the Local Court.
Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight Melinda Pavey stated:
“The reforms put road safety front and centre giving disqualified drivers an incentive to return to lawful driving. For those who continue to break the rules, magistrates will continue to have maximum disqualification periods available to them”.
A disqualified person is not eligible to make an application to the Local Court for the removal of licence disqualifications if the disqualified person has at any time been convicted of any of the following offences (whether or not a licence disqualification was imposed in connection with the offence):
- the offence of murder or manslaughter caused using a motor vehicle;
- an offence which comprises or includes causing death, grievous bodily harm or wounding using a motor vehicle;
- an offence of predatory driving or police pursuits;
- an offence of negligent driving which causes death or grievous bodily harm,
- an offence of intentional menacing driving;
- an offence of failing to stop and assist after vehicle impact causing death or grievous bodily harm or an offence that relates to an impact causing death or grievous bodily harm arising from the driving of a motor vehicle.
Changes to the Habitual Traffic Offenders Scheme
The new rules will abolish the Habitual Traffic Offenders Scheme.
Notwithstanding that the scheme will be abolished, all individuals currently serving a Habitual Traffic Offender disqualification will not automatically be eligible to reobtain their license as any declaration imposed before the new rules will not cease to have effect once the new rules commence.
To set aside a previously imposed Habitual Traffic Offenders declaration an application must still be made to the Local Court to quash a declaration. Please click the following link for Information about setting aside a Habitual Traffic Offenders declaration.
When do the new rules commence?
To implement the reforms, the Road Transport Amendment (Driver Licence Disqualification) Bill 2017 was introduced into NSW parliament on 12 September 2017. The Bill was debated in the Legislative Assembly on 20 September 2017 and received bipartisan support and was assented to on 13 October 2017. The new rules commence on 28 October 2017.
How can Turnbull Hill Lawyers help?
At Turnbull Hill Lawyers we have assisted thousands of clients with matters before the Court, if you or someone you know has a traffic related legal matter including a disqualification period that needs to be removed or an application to quash a Habitual Traffic Offenders declaration, contact Matthew Carney on 1800 994 279 or via email.
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