Driving is a privilege that comes with responsibilities. In New South Wales (NSW), license suspension is a serious consequence that individuals can face due to various traffic offenses or other legal reasons. Understanding what license suspension entails, the distinction between suspension and disqualification, and the steps to appeal a suspension are crucial for anyone navigating the complexities of the legal system. In this article, we will break down the key aspects of license suspension in NSW and provide insights into the appeal process.
What is License Suspension and How Does it Occur?
License suspension involves the temporary withdrawal of an individual’s driving privileges. A suspension can be enforced immediately or after receiving a penalty notice or being charged with an offense. The police officer holds the authority to suspend a license, and there are two scenarios:
- Immediate Suspension: This occurs on the spot, and your license is suspended immediately. You won’t be allowed to drive away, and someone else will have to pick up your vehicle.
- Suspension within 48 Hours: Alternatively, a suspension can be imposed within 48 hours of being charged or receiving a penalty notice.
The length of suspension varies depending on the offense. It can be an automatic 3-month or 6-month suspension, or it might continue until your case is heard by a court.
What types of Suspensions can be appealed?
Under the Road Transport Act in New South Wales (NSW), there are specific types of suspensions that can be appealed to the Local Court. These include:
- Exceeding Speed Limit: If you’ve been suspended due to exceeding the speed limit by more than a certain threshold, such as more than 30km/h or 45km/h, you can appeal this suspension.
- Accumulation of Demerit Points: If you are a provisional license holder and your license has been suspended due to the accumulation of demerit points, you can appeal this suspension.
- Serious Drink Driving and Traffic Offenses: Suspensions resulting from serious drink driving offenses and other serious traffic offenses can be appealed. These typically involve cases where alcohol concentration in the blood exceeds the legal limit or when a severe traffic violation has been committed.
- Medical Reasons: If your license has been suspended due to medical reasons, you have the right to appeal. This might include cases where your medical condition affects your ability to drive safely, and you believe the suspension is unwarranted.
- Not Fit and Proper Person: If you’ve been deemed not fit and proper to hold a driver’s license, you can appeal this decision. This could involve issues related to your conduct or criminal history.
How to Appeal a License Suspension
If you believe that your license suspension was unjust or that there are exceptional circumstances surrounding your case, you have the right to appeal the suspension. Here’s what you need to know about the appeal process:
- Time Limit: You must file your appeal within 28 days of the date you were suspended.
- Driving During Appeal: While your appeal is pending, you must not drive until the court makes a decision.
- Exceptional Circumstances: Courts can only lift or vary a suspension if there are exceptional circumstances justifying such actions. Proving exceptional circumstances can be challenging, as they generally require something extraordinary and unusual.
- Appeal Process: You can appeal the suspension online or submit your application notice at any Local Court registry. Keep in mind that certain suspensions, like those related to excessive speeding or serious driving offenses, can be appealed to the Local Court.
Before appealing a police suspension, seeking legal advice from an experienced lawyer is strongly recommended. An experienced lawyer can provide guidance on the strength of your case and help you navigate the legal procedures.
The Challenge of Appealing Police Suspensions
Appealing a police suspension presents unique challenges compared to appealing suspensions from the Roads and Maritime Services (RMS):
- High Threshold for Exceptional Circumstances: To successfully appeal a police suspension, you must demonstrate exceptional circumstances, which means circumstances that are truly extraordinary and uncommon.
- Factors to Consider: Previous driving history, the severity of the offense, completion of driver education courses, public safety concerns, and community benefits are some factors that can influence the court’s decision.
Potential Outcomes of an Appeal
The Local Court can render several outcomes based on your appeal:
- Appeal Allowed: If the court finds merit in your appeal, you can resume driving immediately.
- Appeal Varied: The court might modify the suspension period to a duration less than the original notice.
- Appeal Dismissed: If exceptional circumstances are not proven, the court may uphold the suspension as initially imposed.
License suspension in NSW is a serious matter with legal implications. Understanding the distinction between suspension and disqualification, the avenues for appealing suspensions, and the factors courts consider when evaluating appeals is crucial. Remember, the appeal process can be intricate, so having the right legal support can make a significant difference in your journey to regain your driving privileges.
For legal advice in relation to your licence suspension, contact our team today for an initial consultation.