Great Results In Court!
Stafford Whitfield from our office recently represented a young person in Court who had been charged with multiple Drive Whilst Disqualified offences. Under the old Habitual Traffic Offender Declaration scheme he was disqualified from driving until 2030. When he came to us for advice he had two (2) charges pending but just days before his first court date he was caught driving again after having issues at home and leaving home. He was promptly brought to police attention by routine police traffic checks and was later arrested, charged with a further offence and held in custody Bail Refused.
We appeared in his hearing for Bail but were unsuccessful because the Magistrate found that there was an unacceptable risk of him reoffending that could not be remedied by bail conditions and he was forced to stay in custody. Fortunately, his matters were in Court the next day and he only had to spend time in custody overnight.
We entered pleas of guilty for him and successfully argued that there was a change in circumstances and we were able to get him released on bail by adding extra conditions which was a very good result.
For all three (3) offences, our client ultimately received a Community Correction Order with community service and a fine. This is a fantastic result considering he was looking at full-time imprisonment just a week before.
What is the difference between ‘disqualification’ and ‘suspension’?
If your licence has been suspended, it is an administrative issue. In certain circumstances the Police and Roads and Maritime Service are empowered to suspend a person’s licence. A Court will generally have the power to overturn this suspension by way of a Licence Appeal but in the case of some offences “extraordinary circumstances” must be shown in Court to be successful (this is a very high bar).
If your licence has been disqualified it is an order from the Court that you must not drive for that period. Generally, the physical card will be rendered invalid and you will need to apply for a new card to be issued to you before you drive. Failing to do this is an offence and you can be charged with a further offence for doing so.
How can you go to prison just for driving?
We hear this question a lot. A Magistrate at the Local Court once told an offender and the Court that even if a person had no crashes and was a professional V8 supercar driver, it’s not the person’s ability to drive that is the question. The Magistrate went on to say the fact is, the person has been ordered by the Court not to drive and failing to comply with Court Orders is a serious offence.
The NSW Parliament view this as such an issue that for a charge of drive while disqualified – first offence, the maximum penalty is 6 months imprisonment and/or a $3,300 fine. For a charge of drive while disqualified – second/subsequent offence the Court can sentence a person to 12 months imprisonment and a fine of up to $5,500. These penalties apply to each offence. There are also significant further disqualifications that the Court can impose as well. A first time offender can expect a minimum disqualification period of 3 months and a second or subsequent offender can expect a minimum disqualification of 6 months.
What are some of the other offences? Is it always prison?
The short answer is no, it isn’t always a prison term. Prison is generally a last resort for matters that are considered so serious that there is no other way to deal with the matter. These times can include serious accidents or multiple offences where the person has not learned their lesson.
Generally, the Court will start with a fine and progressively work up to good behaviour bonds, community service and ultimately prison.
Do I need a lawyer?
It is always recommended that people are represented in Court so that you have a professional voice in the courtroom but also a person who can give you proper advice on what you are facing and how to get the best results in Court.
At Whitfield|Legal we have significant experience in criminal and traffic matters. We offer a free initial consultation and ongoing support for you even after your matter is finalised. Call us today on 1300 818 626 and one of our local lawyers will be in contact with you to discuss your matter.