Traffic Offences

Hannay Lawyers

What You Need to Know About Licence Disqualifications for Driving Offences in QLD

By | Traffic Offences

Disqualifying a driver is one of the harshest penalties a court can impose for certain traffic offences in Queensland. When your driver’s licence is disqualified, it is confiscated and all driving privileges are revoked.

Below we’ll detail a number of offences which can result in disqualification of a driver’s licence. Disqualification is the result of a court order, and means you must reapply for a new licence once the period of disqualification ends. This distinguishes it from suspension of a licence, which is often imposed for offences such as unpaid fines or an accumulation of demerit points. Once the period of suspension expires – unlike disqualification – your driver’s licence reactivates.

The penalties for driving whilst you are already disqualified are serious. Your driver’s licence may be confiscated for two to five years, plus there is the possibility of large fines and even terms of imprisonment for up to 18 months.

If you are facing the situation where your licence may be disqualified, or you were found driving while already disqualified, you should seek expert legal advice as soon as possible.

What offences can result in disqualification from driving?

In Queensland you will be disqualified from holding a driver’s licence for a stated period if convicted of:

  • a drink driving or drug driving offence;
  • a dangerous driving offence;
  • a criminal offence involving the driving or use of a motor vehicle.

Under the Transport Operations (Road Use Management) Act 1995, it is illegal to drive on a public road in Queensland without a valid driver’s licence. A driver’s licence is not valid if you have been disqualified from holding or obtaining a driver licence, or, after completing a period of disqualification, you did not obtain a driver’s licence before driving again.

Likewise, if you have had your licence suspended – for unpaid fines or for drink driving before the charge is heard by the court, for example – and you then drive a motor vehicle in Queensland, you will be charged with unlicensed driving. If convicted of this offence, the court must disqualify you from holding a driver’s licence for two to five years. You may also receive a fine of more than $5,300 or be imprisoned for up to one year.

Since May 2008, those drivers convicted of more than one drink or drug-related driving offence will also serve cumulative disqualification periods – one after the other – rather than all at the same time (or concurrently).

Driving while disqualified

Because it’s made clear to an offender that they are not to drive while their licence is disqualified, the penalties for doing so can be severe. Mitigating and aggravating factors may be considered by the court but at minimum, the court must disqualify you from holding a driver’s licence for a period of between two and five years. You may also receive a fine of more than $8,000 or be imprisoned for up to 18 months.

Exceptions and reapplying for your licence

Once your licence is disqualified you are not allowed to drive unless you qualify for and obtain a restricted driver’s licence, which is only granted in specific cases by a magistrate for work-related reasons, i.e. your job involves driving. Expert legal advice should be sought in applying for a work licence as a number of criteria need to be met to establish your eligibility.

Once you have served a period of disqualification of licence, you may be eligible to apply for a probationary licence. If you were absolutely disqualified from holding or obtaining a Queensland driver’s licence for unlicensed driving before 13 March 2002, the Department of Transport and Main Roads maintains an absolute disqualification checklist (FS4849) on its website that allows you to see if you are eligible to have your disqualification removed. If successful, you can then re-apply for your licence.

The impact of having your licence disqualified can be harsh, including losing employment and the ability to move freely to visit family and friends. The legal professionals at Hannay Lawyers are specialists in representing people facing charges relating to traffic offences and the potential loss of licence. We have the expertise to promptly advise you of the best way forward so contact our Brisbane criminal lawyers on 1800 431 603 for a free consultation if you have questions about anything raised in this article.

drug driving lawyers Brisbane

Charged with Drug Driving in QLD? What You Need to Know

By | Drug Charges, Traffic Offences

While everyone is well aware that driving a vehicle after drinking alcohol is illegal unless you have a blood alcohol level of less an 0.05, what’s perhaps less well known is that in Queensland there is ‘zero tolerance’ for driving under the influence of drugs.

You can be charged, therefore, if the presence of any illicit drug is detected in your system after a road-side saliva test. It should be noted you are also breaking the law if you drive a vehicle or are in charge of a vehicle while you are under the influence of over-the-counter drugs (including alcohol) or drugs your doctor has prescribed.

What can I be charged with?

The two most common offences relating to drug driving are ‘driving while a relevant drug is present in blood or saliva’, and ‘driving under the influence of drugs’. The second offence is considered more serious than the first.

Again, if you’re charged with driving while a relevant drug is present in your blood or saliva, the police don’t have to prove that having the drug in your system means you can’t drive safely or that you are driving less safely. It’s enough that it’s in your system.

What is a ‘relevant’ drug? At the moment, the saliva sample police collect from you only tests for cannabis, MDMA (ecstasy) and methylamphetamine (ICE). It should be noted the time period in which the saliva test can detect a drug differs from drug to drug, and may also be influenced by the frequency and amount of your drug use.

It should also be noted that it’s an offence for a driver to refuse to provide a sample of their saliva to a police officer upon request. Failure to do so can result in a fine of up to $4,876 or up to six months imprisonment.

As mentioned, driving under the influence of drugs is a more serious charge reflecting the fact a person’s driving has been seriously affected by drug consumption. The law also allows the police to compel you to take a blood test if they reasonably suspect that you have been driving or have been in charge of a motor vehicle while you were under the influence of any drug.

If you return a positive result on your first saliva test, police will generally require you to do a second test. If this second test returns a positive reading your licence will be suspended for a 24-hour period. If you drive during this period there will be additional charges.

What happens if I’m charged with one of these offences?

If you are charged with driving with a relevant drug present and have no other pending drug driving charges, your driver’s licence will remain valid until the charge is dealt with by a court. If there are other charges pending, your licence will be suspended immediately until your court date.

Penalties for driving with a relevant drug present may include:

  • Disqualification from driving for between one to 9 months;
  • a fine of up to $1,706;
  • a maximum term of imprisonment up to three months.

If you are charged with the more serious offence of driving under the influence of a drug, your licence will be immediately suspended until the charge is dealt with by a court. The penalties imposed may:

  • Disqualify you from driving for up to six months;
  • fine you up to $3,413;
  • impose a maximum term of imprisonment up to nine months.

Repeat drug driving offences (within the last five years) naturally enough draw more severe penalties.

If you’re convicted of the lesser offence of having a drug in your saliva or blood while driving or in charge of a vehicle, you may be able to apply for a ‘work licence’ – a restricted driving licence – during your period of disqualification if you need to drive a vehicle for work. This needs to be applied for before pleading guilty to the offence and so legal advice at this stage is strongly recommended.

The importance of legal advice

Given there is latitude in the sentences and fines a court may impose, the most beneficial reason for engaging an experienced lawyer is that they can potentially minimise your penalty.

By presenting persuasive and relevant information on your behalf in defence, a good legal professional can help mitigate the impact of the offence on you and your family. As discussed above, legal guidance is particularly needed if a work licence is needed or you wish to contest the charges.

Contact our Brisbane criminal lawyers today if you need to discuss any of the issues raised in this article.

pulled by police

What To Expect If You Are Pulled Over By the Police this Christmas

By | Traffic Offences

There are a number of myths associated with breath testing and it’s important to understand – not only your rights – but also your obligations.

Here are a few of the common breath and drug testing myths:

Myth #1 – You Won’t Be Stopped Unless You Do Something Wrong

The police can pull over anyone and for any reason. You are obligated to provide a saliva sample for a drug test or a breath sample two gauge alcohol consumption. The police do not have to give a reason why they pulled you over, and the fact that you were driving safely is not a defence.

Myth #2 – If You’re in an Accident and It’s Not Your Fault, You Won’t be Breath Tested

In the case of an accident, everyone involved is likely to be breath and/or drug tested. As per Myth #1, the police do not need to provide a reason why they are testing you, and the fact that you didn’t cause the accident directly is not relevant. Even if you are injured, the police will likely ask you to provide a specimen.

Myth #3 – You Can Call Your Lawyer Before Providing a Sample

The cliché American television show, “I’m not doing anything until I’ve spoken to my lawyer,” does not apply to roadside tests. In fact, any attempt to delay the providing of a specimen may result in you being arrested. Furthermore, if you have been drinking or taking drugs, it’s unlikely that a short delay will have any impact whatsoever on your results.

Myth #4 – You Can Choose the Type of Specimen You Provide

The police hear this one all the time; “I’m not prepared to provide a breath sample immediately, but I’m happy to accompany you back to the police station to provideed a blood sample.” This is based on a couple of assumptions – that the delay will have a positive impact on the result (refer to Myth #3) and that the police officer will most likely not have the time or inclination to take someone back to the police station.

You are legally obligated to provide the sample that police ask for and failing to do so will likely result in arrest.

The Christmas season is a time of parties and celebration. It’s also when police are at their most vigilant, so make sure you take every precaution to avoid a drink-driving or drug conviction this festive season.

Contact our Gold Coast criminal lawyers today for more information.