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INFRINGEMENT NOTICES

INFRINGEMENT NOTICES
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Overview

In NSW, having a drivers licence is important to get around. We are only given an allowance of a certain amount of demerit points before the Road and Maritime Services (RMS) can suspend our licence and prohibit us from driving.

The RMS and NSW Police can suspend drivers licences if you are caught drink driving, exceed the demerit point limit, or exceed the speed limit by over 30km/h. Where you have received an immediate suspension, or Notice of Suspension from the RMS, you may have a right to appeal the suspension period. It should be noted that not all decisions to suspend your licence can be appealed.

There are three licence suspension decisions of the RMS and NSW Police that can be appealed:

  • A decision by the RMS to suspend your licence following speeding of over 30km/h but less than 45km/h. This is where you receive a Notice of Suspension from the RMS indicating that you will not be able to drive for about three or six months.

  • A decision by a police officer to suspend your licence immediately after speeding of over 45km/h. This is referred to as a Police Licence Suspension Appeal. You will only be successful in appealing this decision if you can demonstrate there were exceptional circumstances for speeding, for example, there was an emergency.

  • A decision by the RMS to suspend a provisional licence holder (P plate licence) for exceeding demerit points. Provisional Licence drivers are only about 7 demerit points and it can be easily exceeded on double demerit point days or through the commission of a few speeding offences. If the offence which triggered the suspension period is not too serious, and the drivers history has few offences, the Court may allow the appeal.

 

What can you expect in the Licence Suspension Process?

Notice of Suspension:

Once you have paid a fine following the issue of a Penalty Notice for speeding (over 30km/h by less than 45 km/h), this is normally taken to mean that you accept you were caught speeding and you do not wish to challenge the offence. The RMS will then normally issue you with a separate letter called a “Notice of Suspension” advising that your licence will be suspended for 3 or 6 months. The Notice will also advise when your licence suspension will commence.

 

If you are a provisional licence holder, the same also applies. Paying a Penalty Notice for a traffic offence that takes you over the demerit point limit will soon be followed by a Notice of Suspension.

Lodging an Appeal:

It is important to remember that you only have a short amount of time to notify the Court you wish to appeal the decision of the RMS or police to suspend your licence. You have 28 days from the date of the Notice of Suspension letter, or date of immediate suspension, to appeal to the Local Court. There is no provision for an extension of time. If you are considering loding an appeal, it is important to obtain legal advice about the grounds of your appeal.

Court Hearing:

Once the appeal has been filed with the Local Court, you will be given a future date to attend the Local Court and have your appeal heard before a Magistrate. On that date, there will also be a representative from the RMS attending the Local Court if it is an RMS appeal. If it is an appeal against a police licence suspension, there will be a prosecutor appearing. The representative from the RMS, or the police prosecutor, will tender documents on their behalf, and you will have the opportunity to tender (or present) documents on your behalf that would be relevant to the Magistrate’s decision in relation to the appeal. It is recommended that appellants complete the Traffic Offenders Program, or a similar course, before the appeal hearing.

Decisions the Court can Make:

The Court has broad discretionary powers in relation to intervening the decision of the RMS or police in respect of licence suspensions. The Magistrate can confirm the decision of the RMS or police to suspend your licence, disallow the suspension, or vary it. It can also “make any such order in the circumstances as the Court seems fit”. This means that the Court can quash the suspension, reduce it down to as little as one day, or confirm the suspension and dismiss the appeal. The Court’s decision is final. There is no appeal against a decision of the court.

Will your appeal be successful?

Your appeal will be sucessful if the Magistrate says your “appeal is allowed”. However, most people also consider their appeal successful if the suspension period is reduced. In this situation, the Court will dismiss the appeal, but vary the suspension period.

Whether or not you have good prospects of having your suspension reduced or quashed will depend on a number of factors, but primarily:

  • The reason you were speeding or, in the case of a provisional licence, incurred the demerit points.

  • Your driving history, including previous offences and the period in which you have held an unrestricted licence.

  • Your need for a licence.

The weight given to each factor will vary, and you should not assume that just because you have a substantial need for a licence, the Court will allow your appeal. It is in the discretion of the Magistrate to allow the appeal or vary the suspension period having regard to the above key factors.

 

Police Licence Suspensions

With the above mentioned factors are the main areas of interest for determining an RMS licence suspension appeal, Magistrates must be satisfied of an additional factor where he or she is hearing an appeal against a police officer’s decision to suspend your licence for exceeding the speed limit by 45km/h or more. In order for you to be successful in an appeal against a police licence suspension, it must be demonstrated that there are “exceptional circumstances” before the suspension will be varied or lifted by a court.

At KF Lawyers, we have experienced traffic lawyers who can assist you in your licence suspension appeal. We appreciate the importance of giving attention to detail in your matter to give you the best chances of keeping your licence or avoiding being without your licence for a long time. If you wish to discuss your options, please contact KF lawyers for a free initial consultation.

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