Ask LH: Can I Get Out Of A Licence Suspension If I Was Helping My Mum In An Emergency?

I got caught driving in NSW while my provisional licence was already suspended (three months) due to losing all demerit points for a speeding fine. Apparently, for this kind of driving offence, the minimum loss of licence will be two years! Do you know if I could have ground for leniency? I was driving home to help my mum to get my stepdad off the floor, because he’s had a stroke two years ago and had fallen that night and she was unable to get him up on her own.

Also, if I move to Victoria following court proceedings and whatnot, can I immediately apply for a Victorian license? Thanks, DJ McG

Dear DJ McG,

As we’ve outlined time and time again, licence suspensions and driving bans are imposed nationwide, not just in the state you received them.

Australia’s road and traffic authorities are all interconnected via the Australian Road Rules agreement and Demerit Points Scheme. This means that any penalties you incur in NSW will be instantly flagged when you apply for a licence in Victoria.

Now on to the second part of your question. In NSW, you can apply to serve a 12-month good behaviour period in lieu of a suspension on the proviso that you do not accumulate more than two demerit points while on good behaviour. However, this is only available to unrestricted licence holders who aren’t habitual offenders.

As a provisional driver with more than one driving offense, your only real option is to lodge an appeal in court. As the NSW Roads and Maritime Services website explains:

A person has the right to appeal the suspension at a local court. The appeal must be lodged with a court within 28 days of being issued the suspension notice. You can file online, or go to a NSW Local Court. A fee is payable to the Court when lodging an appeal. Unless the court in the meantime orders otherwise, you must not drive unless the court upholds your appeal.

You will then need to plead your case to the appointed court magistrate and hope they reduce or quash your suspension. Things that will be taken into account include the circumstances of the offence, your traffic record/character and to what degree your livelihood depends on having a licence.

We’ll be honest: it’s going to be an uphill battle. You’ve already failed the traffic record test as you were caught driving on a suspended licence. That’s a big black mark against your name from the very get go.

Plus, your excuse probably won’t hold up too well under the magistrate’s scrutiny. For example, why did your mum need to rely on you to lift your stepdad? Why didn’t she call a different family member who isn’t banned from driving?

If it was an emergency like you claim, why didn’t she request immediate assistance from the next-door neighbours? Was an ambulance called? This is all starting to sound a bit like Newman’s court appearance in Seinfeld.

With that said, a two year suspension seems unduly harsh if you were just driving and not speeding. We say go for it. The worst case scenario is that your appeal gets disallowed and you receive an offender levy for wasting the court’s time. Given the circumstances, we reckon the gamble is worth taking.


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