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In certain circumstances, the court can grant a ‘restricted’ (or ‘hardship’) licence where a driver has been disqualified from driving. A person must apply for a restricted license. It is not an automatic consideration of the court. A restricted license can only be issued to relieve ‘severe and unusual hardship’ likely to be caused to the driver, and their dependants, from the loss of licence (s18Vehicle and Traffic Act 1999 (Tas)). Depending on the circumstances of the offence, the certain loss of a reasonably paid and secure job will suffice, though there may be other special circumstances which will come within this definition. Inconvenience is not sufficient, and as such restricted licences will not be granted if there are other practical means of transport available, such as public transport or transport with work colleagues.

A person cannot make an application for a restricted licence where the driver has been convicted of a second offence under the Road Safety (Alcohol and Drugs) Act 1970 (Tas) within 3 years of the first. Similarly, restricted licenses cannot be applied for if convicted with a reading of 0.15% or more, driving under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs, a drink driving offence whilst a holder of a learner's or provisional licence, where he or she refuses to provide a sample of breath or blood for analysis without a reasonable excuse, and where a blood sample is taken whilst unconscious and he or she refuses to permit an analysis and is convicted without having a reasonable excuse.

It must also be shown that the granting of a licence would not be against the ‘public interest’. Thus drivers showing signs of a drinking problem or having a bad driving record may be refused. Also the court may take the view that the circumstances of the offence were so bad that the driver should bear the full weight of their punishment irrespective of the consequences.

The magistrate also has the option of extending the disqualification period if granting a restricted licence.

Making an Application for a Restricted License

Where a person has lost 12 demerit points (4 in the case of provisional drivers), they will be sent a notice in the mail which gives them fourteen days to apply for a restricted licence. Where the person is faced with the loss of their licence due to a drink-driving charge to which they are pleading guilty, it is usually the practice of the court to adjourn the case to a ‘restricted licence court’ when the person indicates that they will be applying for one. In either case, the person should go to the clerk of the court and obtain a restricted licence application form. This needs to be completed and filed with the court. Copies are to go to the police and to the Registrar of Motor Vehicles. The person should keep a copy for themself.

Applications should give:

  • name, address and occupation;
  • the reason the person has lost or is about to lose their licence (for example, loss of points, exceeding 0.05);
  • any previous disqualification or driving convictions. If unsure, the person can obtain a statement from the police by writing to police in their district explaining why it is needed;
  • the grounds for the application ;
  • the order sought;
  • a letter from their employer stating that the person will lose their job if they don't have a licence (if applicable).
  • the person must obtain a report from a doctor that they are not alcohol or drug dependent if they are disqualified under the Road Safety (Alcohol and Drugs) Act.

In addition, blood test results should accompany this report.

Grounds for Application

It is important to think very carefully about the grounds for the application. Minimum information consists of details of present employment, how long the person has worked there, their job description, pay, and why they need a licence to do the job. Applicants should discuss this in detail with their employer, because the employer is likely to be required to give detailed evidence of this in court, and make it quite clear that the person will definitely lose their job if the restricted licence is not granted. Simple inconvenience to the employer is not in the least relevant unless this means that the person will be fired.

For a restricted licence to get to and from work, it is important to check all other avenues. This includes available buses, work members who may be able to provide a regular lift, and even the cost of taxis. The court will need to be convinced that there is no other way. Record the information on the application. Attach a copy of the relevant bus time table.

The person should give details of their fixed financial commitments that is, rent, mortgage payments, instalments on hire purchase or personal loan, any other debts they are paying off and any other facts which place any extra financial burden on them. Details about their past employment history, educational qualifications and enquiries they have made for jobs closer to home, or non-driving jobs, should be included to indicate the job options if they lose their present job. Promotional prospects and superannuation rights (if any) should be mentioned.

If self-employed, the person should give details of their business, and whether it would be feasible to employ someone to drive. Often there is not enough room on the space provided in the form. If this is the case, then write in the space ‘Please see attached sheet for details’. Write out the grounds on a separate sheet.

The Order Sought

The person should be careful to ask only for a licence for such times or purposes as they really need it. Usually they will be restricted to particular hours, days of the week, area and/or purposes. This should be done in close consultation with the employer. If self-employed make sure that the restrictions agreed to will neither be too wide nor too narrow. This should enable the person to carry out such activities as are strictly necessary to keep their business going.

In the Court

A restricted licence application will usually be heard within two weeks of the application being filed. On the day, the person and their employer (if employed) must be available to give evidence. If the person is pleading guilty this will be dealt with first and penalties imposed. Then they will be asked to give sworn evidence to support their application. Their employer will then be called to do the same. The employer should be waiting outside the court during the person’s evidence. The prosecutor may ask questions both of the person and their employer to test the case.

If there is a suggestion from the person’s record on their blood alcohol reading that they may have a drinking problem, the person should come prepared with a report from their doctor to say they are not alcohol dependant.

Offences

The restricted licence must be carried at all times. It is also a serious offence to drive outside the terms of the restricted licence and this may result in its loss, a large fine, a further period of disqualification and even, in serious or repeated instances, jail.

The magistrate also has the option of extending the disqualification period if granting a restricted licence.

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