Imagine this – it is your first day back at uni. The endless summer holidays have sadly come to an end and reality is about to hit. You have great aspirations (as you do every year) to attend all your classes, stay on top of your readings and start assignments before the due date. You think this will be helped by the fact that you’ve scored the car a couple of days a week to drive to uni. Now you can wake up at 9:30am and still make it comfortably to that 10:00am class. As you drive to uni that first morning, you think to yourself, “the year ahead is looking good! I’m going to ace uni this year!”
Then you hear the loud and piercing sound of sirens blaring. Your stomach drops as you look in your rear view mirror and see a police car. They signal you to pull over and you are told that you were speeding. They start writing you a fine and inform you that you are going to cop some demerit points and your licence may be suspended for 3 months.
In one fleeting moment, all your dreams for uni are dashed…or are they?
Will your licence be suspended?
Whether or not your licence will be suspended depends on the type of licence you hold, your driving record and what type of driving offence you have committed.
Your Driving Record:
If you have not committed any driving offences, you have zero points. For every offence you commit, you may incur demerit points.
The number of demerit points incurred will depend on the seriousness of the offence and when the offence occurred (e.g. double demerit points on long weekends).
There is a limit to the number of demerit points you can incur before your licence is suspended. This depends on the type of licence you have.
If you incur the following number of demerit points within a three-year period, your licence will be suspended:
- Full licence – 13 points
- Provisional P2 licence (green P’s) – 7 points
- Provisional P1 licence (red P’s) – 4 points
- Learners Licence – 4 points
If you incur these demerit points, you will be issued with a Notice of Suspension, which will give you the date for when your licence suspension begins. The length of your suspension will depend on the number of demerit points you have incurred. The minimum suspension period is 3 months.
Demerit points will always remain on your driving record, however, they will only count towards a suspension if they are less than 40 months old. After 40 months, they will no longer count towards any suspension.
Some offences are considered serious enough that they attract an automatic suspension.
- Mid or High Range Drink Driving
- Speeding in excess of 30km/hr if you hold a green P’s, red P’s or learner licence
- Speeding in excess of 45km/hr if you hold a full licence
- Street Racing
Your licence can be suspended on-the-spot or within 2 days of receiving the fine.
Can you challenge a suspension?
Whether or not you can challenge a suspension depends on the type of licence you hold and how your licence was suspended.
- Provisional or Learner Licence
If you receive a Notice of Suspension and hold your Leaners Licence, Green or Red P’s, you may be able to challenge the suspension in court if you have reasonable grounds. You must lodge an application with the court within 28 days of the date of the Notice of Suspension.
You should provide to the court evidence that you are of good character and the reasons why you need your licence. This evidence could include:
- character references
- a letter from your employer or university saying why you need your licence for work or study
- medical certificate to show that you need your licence for caring responsibilities
- evidence to show you have limited access to public transport
- paperwork showing enrolment in a Traffic Offenders Program
The court will consider your evidence and make a decision whether to keep your suspension as is, or decrease or increase the suspension period.
Beware: If you decide to appeal and your appeal is unsuccessful, you may be required to pay court costs. You should obtain free legal advice from Student Legal Services before lodging an appeal to see if your case has any merit.
- Full Licence
If you hold a Full Licence, you can only challenge a suspension to court if you received an automatic suspension. You have 28 days from the Notice of Suspension to make an application to court.
If you hold a Full Licence and your licence is suspended because you have accrued too many demerit points, you cannot challenge the licence suspension in court.
Instead, you may be eligible to apply for a good behaviour period through Roads and Maritimes Services (RMS). The good behaviour period is for 12 months and allows you to continue driving on the condition that you do not accrue any more demerit points. If you do accrue 2 or more demerit points in the period, your licence will be suspended for double the initial suspension period. You can apply for a good behaviour bond anytime before your suspension period begins.
You can always obtain free legal advice from the Student Legal Services if you receive a Notice of Suspension or any paperwork regarding a traffic offence.
Remember that the best way to avoid a licence suspension is to drive safely! Not only will you avoid the hassle of having no licence, you will help to keep yourself and all the other drivers on the road safe and that will truly make for an excellent uni semester!
Susannah Coles – Solicitor, Student Legal Services
Disclaimer: The information is general and should not be relied on as legal advice.
Should you require advice, contact Student Legal Services on 8688 7875 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
WSU Student Legal Service is a joint venture between Western Sydney Community Legal Centre and WSU. It provides advice to currently enrolled WSU students through SSAF funds.