Licence Appeals in NSW
Being without a licence can cause extreme hardship and cause problems in terms of employment.
If you have received a Notice of Suspension/Cancellation/Refusal/Withdrawal, where you have lost your privilege to drive, or you expect to receive such a notice, you should seek legal advice to help you understand if you can appeal that decision to the Local Court.
Can I appeal?
Whether or not you can appeal a Notice of Suspension/Cancellation/Refusal/Withdrawal (‘Notice’), depends on the following:
- Why you were issued the Notice; and
- Who issued you the Notice.
The reasons why you may be issued with a Notice include:
- Demerit Point Accumulation;
- Health Reasons;
- Speeding & Other Major Offences; and
- Non-Payment of Fines.
Demerit Point Accumulation
Q: Who suspends licences for demerit point accumulation?
A: Notice of Suspensions are issued by RMS (now known as Transport NSW, administered by Service NSW) when you exceed the demerit point threshold.
Q: When will I be suspended for demerit point accumulation?
A: You will be suspended for demerit point accumulation if you exceed the threshold amount – this depends on what licence you have:
|Licence Type||Threshold Demerit Points|
|Learner or Provisional 1 (Red) Driver Licence Holders||Incurring 4 or more demerit points|
|Provisional 2 (Green) Driver Licence Holders||Incurring 7 or more demerit points|
|Unrestricted Licence Holder||Incurring 13 or more demerit points|
|Professional Drivers||Incurring 14 or more demerit points|
Q: Who Can Appeal a Demerit Point Accumulation?
A: ONLY learner or provisional licence holders are able to appeal a licence suspension for exceeding the demerit point threshold. If you are an unrestricted/professional driver, you cannot appeal the suspension, however, you can elect to be on a good behaviour licence.
Good Behaviour Licence
Q: What Is a Good Behaviour Licence?
A: Instead of having a suspended license, an unrestricted/professional driver can elect to be on a good behaviour licence for 12 months. Being on good behaviour means that you cannot incur 2 or more demerit points in the 12-month period.
Q: What happens if I breach the Good Behaviour Licence?
A: If you breach the good behaviour licence by incurring 2 or more demerit points in the 12-month period, you will face a licence suspension that is double the original period of suspension.
Q: Who cancels licences for health reasons?
A: Notice of Cancellations for health reasons are issued by the RMS.
Q: When will my licence be cancelled for health reasons?
A: Your licence will be cancelled/suspended/refused if you fail the medical check run by Transport NSW or they has reason to think you are not fit to drive, if for example a health condition is affecting your ability to drive.
Q: Who has the right to appeal?
A: All licence holders have the right to appeal. This process would usually require independent expert reports which assess whether a health condition is affecting your ability as a driver.
Speeding or Other Major Offences
Q: Who suspends licences for speeding or other major offences?
A: Notice of Suspensions are issued by either Transport NSW or NSW Police.
Q:When will my licence be suspended?
A: This depends on who issues the Notice of Suspension:
|Issuer||Licence Holder||Offence||Suspension Period|
|Transport NSW||Learner or Provisional Licence Holders||Any speeding offence||n/a|
|All Licence Holders||Exceeding speed limit by 30km/hr||3 month suspension|
|Exceeding speed limit by 45km/hr||6 month suspension|
(‘Immediate Notice of Suspension’)
|Learner or Provisional Licence Holders||Exceeding speed limit by 30km/hr||
Determined by a Court
|All Licence Holders||Exceeding speed limit by 45km/hr|
|Charged with any major offence:
— Mid-Range PCA
— High-Range PCA
— Serious Driving Offences Occasioning Death or Grievous Bodily Harm
— Aggravated Burnouts
— Street Racing Offences
Q: Who has the right to appeal?
A: All licence holders have the right to appeal. However the test applied by the Court when appealing against a police suspension is different to that when appealing against a suspension by Transport NSW.
Non-Payment of Fines
Q: Who suspends licences for non-payment of fines?
A: Notice of Suspensions are issued by Transport NSW.
Q: When will my licence be suspended?
A: Your licence will be suspended if you have outstanding fines owing to Revenue NSW. It will continue to be suspended until you pay the full amount or agree to pay the full amount by entering into a payment plan with the RMS.
Q: Is there a right to appeal?
A: No. There is no right to appeal a licence suspension for non-payment of fines.
THE COURT PROCESS
You have 28 days after being issued with a ‘Notice of Suspension/Cancellation/Refusal’ to file an appeal.
Firstly, you must file an application to appeal the decision of Transport NSW or NSW Police with a Local Court registry (any NSW Local Court), and pay the relevant filing fee. The Court will set a hearing date for the appeal.
- Traffic Offenders Programs: Completing a traffic offenders program is usually a good You can seek an adjournment to give you time to complete the program.
- Supporting material: Having material to hand up in court in support of your appeal is a good idea. This might include references, a letter from you to the court, a letter from your employer and medical evidence to support any submissions being made.
- Transport NSW/Police Bundle: The prosecutor will have a bundle of documents to hand up usually consisting of a Notice of Suspension, the relevant infringement notices and your traffic record. It is important that your lawyer reviews these documents before they are tendered.
3. Appearing at Court
- Reviewing documents tendered: During the hearing, the magistrate will review the Transport NSW/police bundle and any material tendered on your behalf.
- Oral Submission: Each party is then given an opportunity to make submissions.
- Decision: The magistrate will then determine the appeal
The test that the Magistrate will apply to determine the appeal depends on the type of suspension you are appealing against:
- ‘Immediate Notice of Suspension: If you were given an ‘Immediate Notice of Suspension’, you must satisfy the Court that there are ‘exceptional circumstances’.
- Transport NSW Licence Suspension: The Court will consider your need for a licence, your traffic history and the circumstances of the offence/s. If, after considering all these factors, the Court is satisfied that it is “just in the circumstances” to allow or vary the appeal, it can do so.
5. The Decision
The Magistrate has four options:
- Allow the appeal
This means that the decision of Transport NSW/Police to suspend your licence will be set aside
- Dismiss the appeal
This means that the decision of the Transport NSW/Police will remain and your licence will be suspended for the original length of time
- Vary the decision of Transport NSW
This means that the period of suspension will be reduced to a certain number of days, weeks or months.
- Or any other order the Court sees is fair in the circumstances.
You cannot appeal the decision of the Local Court to the District Court.
Disclaimer: The above information contains a basic summary of the law. It is not legal advice. If you need legal advice, you should speak to a lawyer.