Last updated 22 August 2016     This chapter is currently under review.

People convicted of a drink driving offence or an offence of driving while a relevant drug was present may apply to the court for a restricted licence to drive only at certain times or between certain places for employment purposes (s 87 Transport Operations (Road Use Management) Act 1995 (Qld) (TORUM Act)). Such a licence is only available for drink or drug driving convictions other than being under the influence (i.e. a reading less than 0.15). Before granting a restricted licence, the court must be satisfied that certain criteria are met (s 87(5) TORUM Act):

  • The applicant is a fit and proper person to hold a restricted licence.
  • Refusal of a licence would cause extreme hardship to the applicant or the applicant’s family by depriving the applicant of their livelihood.
  • The applicant’s provisional or open licence has not been suspended, cancelled or disqualified in the previous five years, which does not include:
    • suspension, cancellation or disqualification set aside on appeal
    • suspension, cancellation or disqualification due to mental or physical disability
    • State Penalties Enforcement Registry suspension
    • suspension for not appearing in court
    • 24-hour suspension
    • suspension resulting in a special hardship order.
  • The offence is related to a blood alcohol concentration of less than 0.15.
  • The applicant was the holder of an open or provisional licence.
  • The offence was not committed while the applicant was engaged in a work-related activity.
  • The applicant was not previously convicted of a drink driving or dangerous operation offence in the previous five years (including a similar offence outside Queensland).
  • The applicant was not subject to a no-alcohol limit for any reason (ss 79(2A), 79(2B), 79(2D), 79(2J) TORUM Act).

Application for a restricted licence can only be made at the hearing of the drink-driving charge once culpability is accepted but before a disqualification period is imposed.

In practice, if a person appears before the court on the first return date of the summons/notice to appear, is eligible for a restricted licence (by reference to the drink-driving charge faced and the person’s traffic history), indicates to the court that culpability is accepted and a restricted licence is sought, a further date, approximately six weeks later, will be given. In the meantime, the person must file with the court an application and supporting affidavit material, including an affidavit by the person’s employer (if not self-employed) regarding issues such as extreme hardship and ‘fit and proper person’ to hold a licence, and serve it on police. At the hearing of the application, police will either contest or accept the affidavit material and oppose or consent to the application. If the application or the affidavit material is contested, each person who has submitted an affidavit must be available for cross-examination by police (s 87(2A) TORUM Act). Self-help kits on applying for restricted licences can be obtained from Legal Aid Queensland.

When a magistrate issues an order for a restricted licence, conditions will be imposed on the use of the licence. Conditions must restrict the use of the licence to circumstances directly connected with the person’s means of earning their livelihood, and they may also restrict the type of vehicle driven, the purpose for which it may be used, the times it may be used and even allow only nominated vehicles of a particular employer to be driven (s 87(4) TORUM Act). Keeping a logbook might also be required. If a restricted licence is granted, it lasts for the duration of the disqualification period to be imposed. The disqualification period will be longer than that which would be imposed if no restricted licence was granted. In practice, the court will add a third or more. Where a maximum period applies, the court may impose up to double the period of maximum disqualification (ss 87(6)–87(6A) TORUM Act).

If conditions of the restricted licence become unworkable, a further application to vary the conditions can be made to the Magistrates Court (s 88 TORUM Act). Again, the application and supporting affidavit material must be drawn, filed with the court and served on police at least 14 days prior to the hearing, and the deponents should be available for cross-examination if required by police.

Driving otherwise than in accordance with the conditions of a restricted licence is an offence punishable by a fine, and conviction results in automatic disqualification from any driving for any remaining period for which the restricted licence would have been in force, together with an additional three-month period (ss 87(10)–87(10A) TORUM Act).

Replacement licence

Persons who have their licence suspended until the charge is finalised (s 79B TORUM Act) may apply to the court for a replacement licence to continue to drive in stated circumstances (s 79E TORUM Act). The criteria for an application are similar to, but not identical with, the criteria for a restricted licence (regs 91–92 Transport Operations (Road Use Management—Driver Licensing) Regulation 2010 (Qld) (Licensing Regulation)) listed below:

  • The applicant is a fit and proper person to continue to drive.
  • There would not be an unacceptable risk the applicant would commit a further drink or drug driving offence.
  • Refusal of a licence would either cause extreme hardship to the applicant or the applicant’s family by depriving the applicant of their means of earning a living, or cause severe and unusual hardship to the applicant or the applicant’s family other than by depriving the applicant of their means of earning a living.
  • The applicant’s licence has not been suspended, cancelled or disqualified in the previous five years, which does not include:
    • suspension for not appearing in court
    • suspension until charge is finalised
    • 24-hour suspension
    • suspension or cancellation set aside by Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads (Transport Department)
    • suspension, cancellation or disqualification set aside on appeal
    • suspension, cancellation or disqualification due to mental or physical incapacity
    • State Penalties Enforcement Registry suspension.
  • The applicant was the holder of an open licence.
  • The offence was not committed while engaged in a work-related activity.
  • The applicant has not previously been convicted of a drink or drug driving, or dangerous operation offence in the previous five years (including a similar offence outside Queensland).
  • The applicant was not subject to a no-alcohol limit for any reason.
  • The applicant had not previously been charged with a drink or drug driving offence which has not yet been finalised.
  • The applicant did not hold a restricted licence.
  • The applicant was not driving during a good behaviour period.

Application for a replacement licence must be made in the approved form within 21 days of the person’s licence being suspended, and it must be accompanied by details of the information intended to be relied upon. The application form can be obtained from any Magistrates Court registry. After filing the application in court, the applicant must give a copy of the application and the accompanying details to the Transport Department at least three days before the date set for the hearing (reg 92 Licensing Regulation). Failure to strictly comply with these provisions cannot be overlooked by the court (s 150AC TORUM Act).

The applicant must file their own affidavit setting out how they will suffer either extreme hardship in connection with earning a living or severe and unusual hardship in some other way. If not self-employed and claiming extreme hardship, they must also file an affidavit by their employer confirming that loss of licence will cause loss of employment. If claiming severe and unusual hardship, the applicant’s affidavit must have documents attached to it to support matters stated in the affidavit (reg 94 Licensing Regulation).

At the hearing, the Transport Department may appear and contest the application. The applicant may give further evidence and call further witnesses, and the applicant and any witnesses must be available for cross-examination by the Transport Department (reg 93 Licensing Regulation).

When a magistrate issues an order for a replacement licence, conditions will be imposed on the use of the licence. Conditions must restrict the purpose for which the vehicle may be driven, the class of vehicle to be driven, the times at which it may be driven, and they must require the person to carry a copy of the order while driving. Conditions may also restrict where the vehicle may be driven, whether passengers (and if so, who) may be carried and anything else the court considers appropriate (e.g. a requirement to wear a uniform or keep a logbook) (reg 95(3) Licensing Regulation).

If the conditions of a replacement licence become unworkable, the applicant may make a further application to the court to vary the order. Again, the application must be in approved form, accompanied by details of the information relied upon and served on the Transport Department at least three days before the hearing. Again, the applicant and any witnesses must be available for cross-examination (regs 96–99 Licensing Regulation).

Driving otherwise than in accordance with the conditions of a replacement licence is an offence punishable by a fine of up to $2200, and conviction results in automatic disqualification from any driving until the original charge is finalised (reg 100 Licensing Regulation).