If you have been disqualified by a court from holding or obtaining a driver’s licence for a period of more than three years or you are disqualified for life, you can apply to get your driver’s licence back before the disqualification ends. It should be noted however that there is a specified waiting period you must serve before applying to get your licence back. The waiting period is dependent on the length of your disqualification.
The specified waiting periods are set out in sections 24(3) and 24(4) of the Road Traffic (Authorisation to Drive) Act 2008 (WA) (the “Act). The waiting periods are as follows:
Three (3) years – for disqualifications of more than three (3) years but less than or equal to six (6) years;
Half the disqualification period – for disqualifications of more than six (6) years but less than or equal to twenty (20) years; and
Ten (10) years – for disqualifications more than twenty (20) years, life or permanent disqualifications.
Section 24 of the Act requires for the disqualification to be made “by a court” and as such, a person who is subject to a licence suspension order because of unpaid fines or a person whose driver’s licence application has been refused or disqualified by the CEO of the Department of Transport cannot apply for a removal of licence disqualification.
Applications for the removal of licence disqualification can be made in the District Court (s 24(1)) or in to the Supreme Court if the disqualification was imposed by the Supreme Court (s 24(2)).
When considering whether or not to remove the licence disqualification, the judicial officer shall consider the following factors to their satisfaction:
The general safety of the public – that allowing the disqualified driver to drive a vehicle will not endanger the public (s24(5)(a));
The character of the disqualified driver – that the disqualified driver is of good character (s24(5)(b));
The circumstances of the case – that the case is one where the disqualified driver should be given their licence back (s24(5)(c));
The nature of the offence(s) which gave rise to the disqualification – that the offences for which there were disqualified can be explained (s 24(5)(d)); and
Conduct of the disqualified driver since disqualification – that the disqualified driver has taken steps to rehabilitate themselves since they were disqualified and they have done nothing wrong since the disqualification (s 24(5)(e)).
It should be noted that the CEO of the Department of Transport has the right to be heard on the disqualified driver’s application and may be represented by any person they authorise for that purpose (s24(11)). To that effect, the disqualified driver’s application must be served on the CEO prior to the hearing. The CEO may oppose the application and submit to the judicial officer that the application should not be granted, or may indicate to the judge that they do not oppose the application.
Once the evidence has been heard, the judicial office can choose to either dismiss the application or grant the application, order that their disqualification be removed (s 24(5).
It is important to note the following:
Whether your application is successful or not, the judicial officer may order that you pay the whole or any part of the legal fees of the representative of the CEO (s 24(9));
If your application is successful, you will need to get a signed and stamped order from the court and take it to any Traffic Licencing Centre and apply for a licence. So no, you cannot start driving straight away; and
If you are unsuccessful with your application, you cannot make another application in relation to that disqualification for 1 year (s 24(6)).
As can be noted, a lot of work is needed to be done before a disqualified driver applies to remove their disqualification. It is best to get legal advice before you apply, in particular to ensure you have calculated the correct waiting period. Your application will be refused if you have not waited for long enough and in this case you may still have to pay the legal costs of the application. In addition, you will not be allowed to make another application for at least a year, even if the correct waiting period has elapsed. To find out more, please do not hesitate to book a free one-hour consultation with one of our lawyers!