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Loss of Licence

In South Australia there are many different ways in which a driver can lose their licence or be disqualified from driving. Provisional, Probationary and Full Licence holders all have different conditions and have different options available to them when facing a loss of licence.

There are 4 main ways in which people can lose their licence.

Court Imposed Disqualification

Many traffic offences will result in a Summons being issued and require a driver to appear before a Magistrate. If the driver is found guilty at trial, or pleads guilty to the offence(s) then the Magistrate will need to impose a sentence. Some traffic offences have mandatory minimum periods of disqualification that must be imposed, such as drink driving. Other offences that involve the use of a motor vehicle can result in a discretionary period of licence disqualification being imposed by the Magistrate.

Where a driver appears in the Magistrates Court and the Magistrate imposes a licence disqualification the disqualification period must be served.

Police Issued Instant Loss of Licence

Police have the power to impose an Instant Loss of Licence for certain offences including Drink Driving. The Instant Loss of Licence commences immediately. While waiting for a Court Summons the driver has already commenced serving the penalty for the offence.  The  time served on the Instant Loss of Licence will be taken into account by the Magistrate when imposing the mandatory licence disqualification applicable.

If a person is challenging the offence, and pleading Not Guilty, an Application to Lift Instant Loss of Licence can be made before the Magistrates Court. This Application involves the person appearing in court and providing evidence. Given that the defences to these charges can be technical, it is recommended to contact a lawyer before lodging the Application with the Court.

Exceeding Demerit Points

A full licence holder, who accumulates 12 or more demerit points in a 3 year period, will also face a loss of licence. Where 12 or more demerit points are accumulated in a 3 years period the Registrar of Motor Vehicles will issue a Notice of Disqualification. The length of the disqualification is dictated by the number of demerit points incurred.

South Australian Full Licence holders may be eligible to administratively enter into a Good Behaviour Option in lieu of serving the disqualification period. Where a driver enters into a Good Behaviour Option they must not incur 2 or more demerit points for 12 months.

If 2 or more demerit points are incurred while subject to the Good Behaviour Option the driver will be disqualified for double the term of the original disqualification. There are no further rights of appeal when a Good Behaviour Option is breached.

A Provisional or Probationary Licence Holder will receive a Notice of Disqualification if they incur 4 or more demerit points.

South Australian Full Provisional or Probationary Licence holders are eligible for a Safer Driver Agreement or a Magistrates Court Licence Appeal. A driver is only eligible for such an Appeal once every 5 years.

Mandatory Disqualification after paying Expiation Notice

Payment of an Expiation Notice for Drug Driving or Exceed Prescribed Concentration of Alcohol (second or subsequent offence) will result in a mandatory licence disqualification being issued by the Registrar of Motor Vehicles. There is no right of appeal against this disqualification period and the disqualification must be served.

Payment of an Expiation Notice for Excessive Speed (45km p/h or more over the speed limit) will also result in a mandatory licence disqualification.

It is important to note that you may elect to be prosecuted for offences that you may receive an Expiation Notice for. However, before doing so, it is wise to contact a lawyer to discuss if this is your best option.


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*Please note: Websters lawyers is a South Australian based law firm, handling matters exclusive to South Australia, with offices located in Adelaide, Ridgehaven and Smithfield.

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