There’s no big secret to how lawyers prepare a work licence application. It’s actually a straight-forward process that requires very little legal knowledge. The key is making sure your application ticks off all the requirements that are clearly set out in our laws. We hope this guide helps to demystify the process and assist those who want to make an application themselves.
Step 1: Identify what sort of licence you need to apply for
In Queensland, we have two types of licenses that are commonly referred to as ‘work licences’.
The first is called a special hardship order or a special hardship licence. This type of application applies to persons who have exceeded their demerit points and breached their good driving behaviour period. It also applies to persons who have been charged with a high speed driving offence (more than 40 km/h over the speed limit).
The second is called a restricted licence and is sometimes referred to as a ‘section 87 application’ or a restricted work licence. This type of application applies to persons charged with eligible drink and drug driving offences.
Step 2: Work out if you are eligible to apply
Putting aside some specific differences, special hardship and restricted licence applications have very similar criteria. If any of the below apply, you are not eligible to apply for either licence:
- You have had your licence suspended or cancelled in the past five years (such as from a disqualification given by a Court, but not from a SPER suspension)
- You did not hold a current drivers licence at the time of the offence or suspension
For a restricted work licence application, you are also not eligible to apply if you:
- Were driving for work at the time of the offence
- Held a learner or provisional licence (you must hold an open licence)
- Were at or above the high range drink driving limit (0.15 BAC)
Keep in mind that for a restricted work licence, you can only apply for a licence that allows you to travel to and from work and to job sites. It cannot be extended to social or family commitments. Special hardship licences are a bit broader and can cover things such as travelling for study and frequent medical appointments.
Working out if you are eligible is often the hardest part of making an application. We also encourage you to view our work licence and disqualification guide to check which particular offences are eligible for work licences.
Step 3: Complete and lodge your application
There are unique application forms for special hardship and restricted licence applications. They can be obtained for free from any Magistrates Court registry or Transport and Main Roads offices.
Special hardship application forms must be first filed at the Magistrates Court registry closest to your home. The application can be filed after you receive your notice of suspension from TMR. At the time of filing, the registry will also set down your Court hearing date.
Once filed, you will need to provide the Department of Transport and Main Roads with a copy of your application. They can be given to a TMR office or emailed to [email protected]
For a special hardship application, you will also be issued a temporary licence until your hearing. This is obtained after you file your application with TMR and attend one of their offices.
Restricted licence applications are a bit more straight forward. You will already have a Court mention date for your charge. At your first mention, you can ask the Magistrate to list a hearing for your work licence application. It is best to check with the Court registry before the mention to get an idea about the Court’s listing availability.
Filing fees can apply for work licence applications. You should check with your Court registry to confirm current filing fees for your application.
Step 4: Prepare your affidavits and supporting material
If you are self-employed, you will probably only need one affidavit from yourself. If you work for someone else, you will also need to obtain affidavit from your employer or supervisor.
An affidavit is a formal document that serves as a person’s evidence in Court. Blank affidavits can be obtained from Magistrates Court registries. Legal Aid Queensland have also helpfully prepared example applicant and employer affidavits for special hardship and restricted licence applications. They need to be signed by a qualified witness such as a solicitor or justice of the peace.
The most important part of the affidavits is to demonstrate that you rely on your drivers licence to earn your means of living. For example, we often highlight where our clients cannot rely on public transport, have a job that involves driving a vehicle and have notable financial obligations such as children and mortgages. Essentially, the Court must be satisfied that you could not keep your employment without a work licence. It is helpful to list your household income against your key expenses.
You will need to assist the Magistrate in working out the appropriate restrictions by describing things such as when and where you drive for work, whether you carry passengers and whether you are required to wear a uniform while driving.
The Court also needs to be satisfied that you are a fit and proper person to hold a drivers licence. To assist our clients’ with unfavuorable traffic histories, we usually recommend engaging in a driving workshop prior to the hearing. Otherwise, we highlight our clients’ good prior driving history to demonstrate the incident was out of character.
It is best practice to file your affidavits as early as possible and they can be filed at the same time you lodge your application. You should file your affidavits the same way you are required to file your application.
Step 5: Attend your hearing
Only you will need to attend; not your employer. The hearing procedure is virtually identical for both types of applications. TMR will appear in special hardship applications whereas Queensland Police appear in restricted licence applications.
For a restricted licence application only, the Court will also have to decide what penalty is appropriate for the drink or drug driving offence. You should obtain separate advice from a criminal or traffic lawyer about this as the penalty will affect how long your restricted licence will last.
In most cases, the Magistrate will just read your application and affidavits and ask you to clarify any questions they have. TMR and Queensland Police also have an opportunity to respond to your application. Most Magistrates will give you an opportunity to update your material again if they require more evidence.
Provided you have convinced the Magistrate you are a fit and proper person to hold a licence and rely on your licence for employment, the Court will make an order stating the restrictions on your licence. It is important that you understand these as any breaches of the restrictions can lead to a licence disqualification.
Do not drive yourself to Court on the date of your hearing as you can’t drive again straight away. You should immediately attend a TMR office to obtain the restricted licence document that you will now be required to carry while driving.
No two work licence applications are the same and some will have a harder time obtaining one than others. Even if you plan to prepare your own material and represent yourself at hearing, it never hurts to check that you’re on the right track.
We frequently represent clients in applications for work licences in Ipswich, Brisbane and the Gold Coast. We are happy to prepare and make your application or help you with any particular question you might have.