What is a Habitual Traffic Offender Declaration?
Habitual Traffic Offender Declarations are disqualification periods of up to 5 years that are in addition to other penalties imposed by a court. When someone’s driver’s licence has been disqualified for decades it is usually on account of Habitual Traffic Offender Declarations.
Thankfully, when a person has not offended for a number of years, it is relatively easy for an experienced traffic lawyer to remove a Habitual Traffic Offender declaration from your driving record.
How was I declared a Habitual Traffic Offender?
A Habitual Traffic Offender Declaration will be ordered by the Roads and Maritime Service (unless a court directs otherwise) where a person has committed 3 or more major traffic offences within a 5 year period.
For every major offence that follows the first three, an additional Habitual Traffic Offender Declaration will be ordered (so long there are at least two other offences in a 5 year period). Hence, where someone commits 5 major offences in 5 years, they will have 15 years of disqualifications attributable to Habitual Traffic Offender Declarations.
What are Major Traffic Offences?
Major traffic offences include:
- A conviction of murder or manslaughter arising out of the use of motor vehicle;
- A conviction for wounding, causing actual bodily harm or inflicting grievous bodily harm arising out of the use of a motor vehicle;
- Predatory driving, Involvement in a police pursuit, and failing to stop after an impact causing grievous bodily harm;
- Driving recklessly, furiously or in a manner or speed dangerous to the public;
- Negligent Driving causing death or grievous bodily harm;
- Menacing Driving;
- Drink Driving, refuse breath analysis or wilfully alter concentration;
- Prevent medical practitioner or nurse from taking blood;
- Drive under influence of alcohol or drug;
- Refuse sample of blood or urine or wilfully introduce or alter amount of drug in blood or urine;
- Failing to stop and assist following impact causing death or injury;
- Failing or refusing to provide oral fluid sample;
- Refusing or failing to submit to the taking of the sample of blood in accordance with the directions of a medical practitioner, registered nurse or prescribed sample taker;
- Refuse or fail to supply sample of urine or blood (fatal accident);
- Drive more than 45 km over the speed limit;
- Drive unlicensed (2nd offence);
- Drive/make application for licence while disqualified, suspended or cancelled.
How do I get rid of Habitual Traffic Offender Declarations?
You can apply to any local court for this declaration to be quashed, or reduced to a minimum of 2 years. The court must be satisfied that the declaration/s are a disproportionate and an unjust consequence having regard to:
- Your total driving record; and
- The special circumstances of the case.
Where someone has been declared a Habitual Traffic Offender, common sense dictates that they will not have a great traffic record although some records are much worse than others. Therefore, what is important is the length of time in which you have not offended and when the Habitual Traffic Offender Declarations commence in relation to court imposed disqualifications.
Special circumstances is widely construed but usually focus on:
- Demonstrated change in character since the Habitual Traffic Offender Declaration was made e.g. employment, changes in family circumstances, maturity attributable to age, rehabilitation from drugs and alcohol, etc;
- Your need for a licence e.g. for employment, because the area you live in has limited public transportation, responsibility for children, or health issue affecting yourself or someone in your care, etc.
- Hardship suffered due to not having a licence e.g. loss of employment, geographic isolation, unusually long public transport trips, etc.
What needs to be done to prepare my case?
To prepare your case to the highest standard and speak on your behalf, evidence of the factors supporting your application is usually supplied to your traffic lawyer and then tendered to the court. Examples of evidence that may assist in an Appeal includes:
- References from employers, family members and health professionals stating why you have a need for a driver’s licence e.g. for work, to pick up and drop off children from school, a chronic back condition, etc.
- Employment contracts stating that having a driver’s licence is a condition of employment.
- Medical documentation about any medical conditions.
- Trip planner documents showing geographic isolation or unavailability of public transport from your residential address to your place of employment.
- A letter of apology or affidavit stating what happened.
- Certificate of completion of the Traffic Offenders Program.
What should be in my references?
In order to give you the best chance of keeping your licence, it is recommended that you work closely with one of our solicitors to prepare your case. Your criminal lawyer will request you obtain references. Below are some reasons a court may invoke for not recording, or reducing, a suspension period.
Loss of employment is a classic reason for a court not disqualifying a person. If a person will lose their job if they lose their licence then the referee should put forward that assertion with absolute certainty. The court will see straight through waffle such as “his position may be reviewed”. For example:
A licence disqualification will prevent Joe Blogs from fulfilling his duties and hence, if this occurs, he will be asked to temporarily leave his post until the disqualification lapses or if the disqualification is for more than 3 months, his employment will be terminated as per clause 8.2 of his contract enclosed herein. There is no discretion in this situation. He is a sales representative and our clients cannot be serviced by public transport.
Lack of public transport
No viable alternative transport is a matter the court may consider when deciding whether to impose a disqualification. This mainly applies to people in the country, but may apply if you are a shift worker, reside or work in an area not serviced by public transport, or to females who work late. For example:
Joe Blogs’ works at Marayong Chickens in an industrial area where there is no public transport. He wakes up at 3am, leaves at 4am, and starts his shift at 5am. We have explored all options and, as he is the only licenced driver in our family, he has no way to get to work if he loses his licence. We have a mortgage and two school age children. Without a licence, he cannot get to work. Worse still, we’d have no way to get to the Richmond shops, a 20 minute drive from where we live on acreage.
Family reasons such as care for a child or elderly parents, sickness of yourself or another who relies upon your ability to drive, are matters a court may consider. For example:
Joe Blogs resigned from his job to look after our sick son as he is the only licenced driver in our family who could take him to his daily medical appointments. When he stopped working, I started a lower paying job. Even though it meant less money, it was the only way we could ensure our son received the treatment he needed. Joe is with our son 24 hours a day in case his conditions worsens and he needs to be taken to hospital. We simply cannot look after our son without a car.
A detailed guide to reference writing can be viewed here.
Is it urgent that I quash a Habitual Traffic Offender Declaration?
Anyone subject to a Habitual Traffic Offender Declaration should obtain a copy of their traffic record immediately to determine when the Habitual Traffic Offender Declarations commence and conclude. It is not unusual for people to be ignorant of the fact that they are serving a Habitual Traffic Offender Declaration. Every day you serve of a Habitual Traffic Offender Declaration is a day you might otherwise be driving.
Why AC Law Group?
Our solicitors are experts at applications to quash Habitual Traffic Offender Declarations. In fact, a number of our senior solicitors have never been unsuccessful in applying for a declaration to be quashed. For these applications, we offer fixed fees with no hidden extras.