Australia: Traffic law in NSW: 3 FAQs

Last Updated: 28 October 2017
Article by Kenneth Wilks

What is a Notice of Suspension?

There are a number of reasons why you may have received a Notice of Suspension:

  1. You were caught exceeding the speed limit by more than 30 km/h; or
  2. You have accumulated the maximum demerit points allowable; or
  3. You have unpaid fines.

The Notice of Suspension contains information about the period of suspension, when the suspension commences and concludes and which offences have triggered the suspension. The notice also advises that you may appeal the decision or elect to take the matter to court. Importantly you have 28 days from the date you receive the Notice of Suspension to lodge the appeal.

Provisional drivers are able to appeal all of the above suspensions however those who hold an unrestricted licence cannot appeal a demerit point suspension.

An unrestricted licence holder who has incurred the threshold number of demerit points is able to apply to the Roads and Maritime Services for a "good behaviour licence". This enables you to continue to drive however if you incur more than one demerit point during the good behaviour licence you have to serve double the original suspension period. This cannot be appealed.

Those who drive for a living may be eligible for additional demerit points. For more information relating to heavy vehicle legislation please contact us.

If you appeal the decision the magistrate can do one of three things:

  1. Grant the appeal meaning you spend no time off the road; or
  2. Dismiss the appeal and confirm the original period of suspension; or
  3. Dismiss the appeal but vary the period of suspension.

For licence appeals, other than police imposed suspensions, the court must consider whether you are a fit and proper person to drive. When determining this, the magistrate takes into account a number of factors including the circumstances leading to the offence(s), your background and your current circumstances, your traffic record, your need for a licence and whether you have completed the traffic offenders program.

Police imposed suspensions are different. For a police imposed suspension the court is not to vary or set aside the decision unless it is satisfied that there are exceptional circumstances justifying a lifting or variation of the suspension. This is a difficult threshold to meet and you should contact a solicitor to obtain advice before appealing a police imposed suspension.

What happens if you are charged with a drink driving offence?

Drink driving offences are divided into four separate charges:

  • Special range
  • Low range
  • Middle range
  • High range

The offences are progressively more serious and have disqualification periods and penalties to reflect this. The penalties and disqualification periods also increase if the offence is a second or subsequent offence.

For each offence there is an automatic and minimum period of disqualification. The magistrate has the discretion to order a period of disqualification less than the automatic period but not less than the minimum period.

If this is your first high range offence or second or subsequent offence within 5 years the magistrate is required to make an interlock order.

An interlock order disqualified you for a period of time after which you must drive with an interlock device fitted to your motor vehicle for a set period of time (the participation period). An interlock device is an electronic breath testing device which is fitted to your vehicle which prevents your car from starting if alcohol is detected in your system.

The legislation sets out minimum and maximum disqualification periods for interlock orders and the participation period. The magistrate will impose a disqualification period (which often is shorter than the period you would otherwise have served) and will set the participation period.

What is the Traffic Offenders Intervention Program?

The Traffic Offenders Intervention Program (TOIP) is a community run program for traffic offenders that aims to educate drivers so they can develop safer driving behaviours.

The standard course runs for six weeks and consists of a one hour seminar one day a week. There are also weekend courses which are completed over one or two days.

When you come before the court for more serious traffic matters the magistrate will often give you the opportunity to complete the program.

Completion of TOIP is one factor that the magistrate will take into account when sentencing.

Provisional drivers who have committed traffic offences are required to complete the program before progressing to green P's or an unrestricted licence. Unrestricted drivers who commit two or more speeding offences within a five year period are also required to complete the program.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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