Limited licences

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As the public adapts to the changes to drink driving limits, there has been a noticeable increase in the amount of people charged with driving with excess breath alcohol. The flow on effect is more convictions, more disqualifications and more applications for limited licences.

Also known as a ‘work licence’, a limited licence allows someone who has been disqualified from driving to drive strictly for the purposes of work. That means driving to work, driving around for work and driving home from work.

Experience with limited licence applications has shown that it can be difficult to navigate your way through the enigma that is the Land Transport Act 1998. The provisions in the Act are a veritable minefield of rules and exceptions to those rules. The following is a list of practical hints and tips to get you back on the road.

Who MAY and who MAY NOT apply

The first thing you need to consider when seeking advice on a limited licence is whether or not you are eligible.

The criterion for eligibility is set out in section 103(1) of the Act.

Generally, anyone who has been disqualified from driving under the Act and anyone whose licence has been suspended as a result of excess demerit points (100+) may apply.

However, there are a number of exceptions to this general rule. These are set out in section 103(2) of the Act.

While the wording of this particular subsection is somewhat archaic and confusing, the most common exceptions concern people who have previously been convicted under the Act within five years of the current offence or people who have been disqualified on conviction for driving while disqualified.

You will need to provide your lawyer with a copy of your previous traffic history before they start work on any application.

28-day stand down

If you clear the first hurdle, the next step is to sit out the compulsory 28-day ‘stand down’ before your application can be filed. You will have to make alternative arrangements for transport during this stand down period.

While this is undoubtedly an inconvenience for you, it has the potential to assist in your application if you have difficulty making alternative arrangements or if such arrangements are unsustainable in the long-term.

Your lawyer should also use this time to take full instructions from you and prepare the relevant documents for your application.

Likelihood of success

For a limited licence application to be successful, the court must be satisfied that an order of disqualification has either:

  1. caused or will cause extreme hardship to the applicant; or
  2. caused or will cause undue hardship to someone other than the applicant.

Every application needs to paint a picture for the court, outlining the hardship that will occur for you or someone other than you if your application is not successful.

Think of driving as being a fundamental requirement for continued employment. In most cases, it is.

Does disqualification mean that you can’t get to work? If so, there is a very real risk you will lose your job.

Will disqualification lead to a loss of income? Or will the disruption caused by a loss of licence cause hardship to other members of your family, or even your employer?

Unemployment or a loss of income inevitably leads to financial pressure. This can cause extreme hardship for yourself and undue hardship for your family if you can’t afford basic necessities such as food, or pay bills or rent.

Your employer might also suffer undue hardship without the benefit of your services if you are employed in a role which requires particular skill or expertise.

Affidavits from you, your employer and family members, where applicable, will be necessary and, ultimately, determine the outcome of the application.

Last word

Perhaps the most useful tip that can be given on limited licence applications is for clients to ensure their lawyer runs their application by the local police prosecutor.

If your lawyer has done their job properly, the police will consent to the application. A judge will be more inclined to grant your application if it is not opposed.

If police don’t consent, get your lawyer to find out why! Contrary to popular belief, lawyers and police get along quite well and in most cases, are happy to offer each other some constructive criticism. Or just plain old criticism.