One of the first things that happens to most people who are caught for drink driving is their licence is taken and suspended. Now that can be a huge shock and cause all sorts of problems if you need that licence for either work or looking after your family. So it’s not surprising that one of the first questions I usually get asked is, Can I appeal this? How do I get my licence back sooner?

The answer is yes, we can appeal against the suspension of your driver’s licence for drink driving, but it’s really important before we do that that people understand what’s involved in the process and what the chances of winning are so that they can make the best decision about what they should do next. 

Your chances of getting your licence back on an appeal against the suspension for drink driving really depend on who took your driver’s licence and how your case is being dealt with. 

There’s two main ways that people’s licences get suspended for drink driving. The first – and this is what happens in most cases – is if the person is being sent to court, the police will take the licence on the spot and issue a police suspension. We call that an immediate police suspension.

The other thing that happens a little bit less commonly is that for some low range drink driving cases, instead of being sent to court, the person will be given a ticket to pay. Once they pay that ticket, then they will be issued with a notice of suspension. We call this a Transport for New South Wales (TfNSW) or an RMS licence suspension

What the court has to consider is different depending on whether your licence has been taken by the police or if it’s been taken by Transport for New South Wales. 

Let’s start with the police suspension. When your licence is suspended by the police, the magistrate has to be satisfied that what we call “exceptional circumstances” exist to give you your licence back. This basically means that the magistrate can’t give people their licence back for the ordinary reasons they see. So things like needing your licence for work or having to take the kids to school by themselves usually won’t be enough to get you your licence back if the police have taken it.

On the other hand, if your licence has been taken by transport for New South Wales, there’s no Exceptional Circumstances Test. The magistrate is allowed to just look at the situation as a whole and see whether they think you deserve to get your licence back sooner. 

So you can imagine it’s much easier to get your suspension reduced or removed if you’ve gone down the route of paying a penalty notice and being suspended by transport for new south wales instead of the police. 

So what should you do if you have one of those more difficult police suspensions? The first thing that I would say is have a chat with a lawyer. We can look at your case and we can ask you the questions to work out whether maybe there are enough factors to put together to show that your case is different and that the magistrate can give you your licence back. 

Otherwise what we can do is if your case will be going to court, we can wait until the point when the magistrate is deciding the entire penalty and we can talk to them then about why they might be able to reduce the disqualification that they might otherwise need to impose.  So while unfortunately it may mean that you need to wait a while until you get that licence back, in the long run, it can mean getting your licence back sooner than we might have expected.

If you do decide to appeal against your suspension for drink driving, the process is quite simple. What we need to do is take the suspension letter. There’s an online portal where we can prepare and lodge an application with the court. They’ll give us a court date where we get to come and argue our case. What we should do in the meantime is think about what information and evidence we can get to the magistrate to prove that yours is one where the licence should be returned sooner. You might also like to think about completing a Traffic Offenders Program.
So as you can see, yes, we can appeal against a suspension of a licence for drink driving. The best way to go about it though is going to depend on who took your licence and the factors that are individual to you. If you do find yourself in this position, it’s a really great idea to give one of our lawyers a call. We’ll assess your case and we’ll let you know what the best option is to move forward.

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