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Understanding Disqualification and Cancellation of Driver Licenses

If a judge suspends or cancels or your licence to punish a traffic offence, your driving options are limited

When people say “I lost my licence,” they usually mean their driver licence was disqualified or cancelled. This article will help you understand what you can do if that happens in Western Australia.

What is a disqualification?

A disqualification is a suspension of your driving privileges imposed by a court as punishment for a driving offence. Disqualifications are similar to suspensions imposed by the Department of Transport. Those suspensions usually occur when you have accumulated too many demerit points or fail to pay an infringement.

The length of a demerit point suspension is fixed by law. A suspension for failure to pay ends when you pay your infringement. The length of a court-imposed disqualification is chosen by the court, within the minimum and maximum that the law allows.

What is a cancellation?

A cancellation is a revocation of your driver licence. Your licence is no longer valid after it is cancelled. If you want to drive again, you must apply for and obtain a new licence.

Licence cancellations are imposed as a punishment for a serious driving offence. For example, the court will cancel the licences of most provisional licence holders after conviction of a drink driving offence.

When can I drive again?

If your licence was cancelled, you cannot legally drive until you are issued a new licence.

If your licence was suspended or disqualified, you can drive again when all existing suspensions and disqualifications have ended. For example, if the court imposed a disqualification period and, after the disqualification took effect, you received a suspension order for failing to pay a fine, you cannot drive after the court-imposed disqualification period ends unless you also pay your fine and have the suspension lifted.

If you were suspended for failing to pay a fine before the court imposed a disqualification, you need to pay attention to the terms of the court’s order. Sometimes a court will make a disqualification consecutive to an existing suspension.

That means the disqualification period does not begin until you pay your fine and the suspension is lifted. If you are not sure when your disqualification will end, you should check with the Department of Transport.

Is there a way to drive before my disqualification ends?

If you have been disqualified by a court, you can apply to the court for an extraordinary driver licence that will allow a limited amount of driving. You are most likely to be granted an extraordinary licence if you need to drive in order to keep your job or to obtain healthcare. You will have a better chance of persuading the court to grant your application if you are assisted by a lawyer.

What happens if I drive after cancellation or disqualification?

Driving after your licence is disqualified or cancelled is a serious offence. It can be punished with a longer disqualification as well as a fine and possible imprisonment. You should seek legal advice if you are accused of driving after disqualification.

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