Many people at some stage in their driving career find themselves in the unenviable position of losing their driver's licence. This can happen in a variety of ways but generally it arises either because too many demerit points are accrued or because a speeding offence of 30 or 45 kilometres per hour over the speed limit has been committed.
Generally speaking, a speeding infringement results in a fine and a loss of demerit points. Certain more serious speeding offences, however, also involve a licence suspension. Speeding 30 kilometres per hour over the limit now involves a 3 month suspension, while doing 45 kilometres per hour over the limit will result in a 6 month suspension. Needless to say, such a suspension can have a dramatic impact on an individual's personal and professional life.
The question of course is: what is the most effective way of dealing with these matters so that the time off the road is reduced as much as possible? Generally, the better option is to pay the fine and then lodge an appeal against the suspension. In most cases, this is by far the most effective way to substantially reduce or eliminate the amount of time spent off the road.
When the case is heard on appeal, the magistrate will generally examine a range of factors including the driver's previous traffic history, their need for licence and any significant health or medical reasons requiring them to drive.
Demerit Point Suspensions
Full licence holders have no right of appeal against a suspension of their licence owing to the accumulation of 12 or more demerit points. However, they have the option of taking up a good behaviour licence for a period of 12 months. It should be noted though that the loss of points during the period of the good behaviour licence will result in a longer suspension (double the period that otherwise would have applied).
In contrast, P-Plate licence holders DO have a right of appeal against a suspension resulting from an accumulation of demerit points. This is particularly relevant now that P1 licence holders can lose their licence as a result of just one offence. P-Platers who have had their licence suspended due to an accumulation of demerit points should seek legal advice immediately.
In summary, there is a right of appeal in the case of speeding offences (30 kph over and 45 kph over) and P-Platers also have a right of appeal against a suspension which results from an accumulation of demerit points.
You have 28 days to lodge an appeal from the date that you receive the RTA notification letter or find out that you are suspended. If you have received a notice of suspension letter from the RTA contact me immediately.
Jonathon Taylor is a criminal law and traffic offences barrister practicing in Sydney. He practices at Jack Shand Chambers in the Sydney CBD.