We provide expert legal services for all traffic offences, including:

  • drink and drug driving;
  • unlicenced and disqualified driving;
  • dangerous and careless driving; and
  • licence appeals

At Gilshenan & Luton, we have the expertise and experience to deliver the optimum achievable result for you in relation to your traffic charge.

Drink and Drug Driving

All convictions for driving whilst effected by alcohol or drugs in Queensland, will result in a disqualification of your driver’s licence.

When might I be charged with drink driving?

You can be charged with drink driving if you provide a specimen of breath or blood that has a higher blood alcohol concentration ('BAC') than is allowed for your category of licence, and you are either:

  • driving a motor vehicle, tram, train or vessel; or
  • attempting to put in motion a motor vehicle, tram, train or vessel; or
  • are in charge of a motor vehicle, tram, train or vessel.

This means that you can be charged with drink driving if you are sitting in your car in a carpark, with your keys on you, and are over the blood alcohol limit. In this situation, you are considered to be ‘in charge’ of the motor vehicle.

What are the penalties for drink driving in Queensland?

There are four categories of drink driving offences:

  • No alcohol limit;
  • General Alcohol limit (BAC of 0.05% - 0.099%);
  • Middle alcohol limit (BAC of 0.10% - 0.149%);
  • High alcohol limit (BAC of 0.15%+).

Generally, drivers are allowed to drive at a BAC below 0.05%, however certain licences require drivers to have no alcohol in their bloodstream (such as learner drivers or provisional drivers). If these drivers are found to have a BAC of more than 0.0% but less than 0.05%, they will be charged as driving while over the no alcohol limit.

If you have a blood alcohol concentration over the high alcohol limit, it is legally assumed that you are ‘under the influence of alcohol’. This is a more serious charge. The maximum penalty is 28 penalty units (approximately $ 3,700) or imprisonment for 9 months. There is a minimum disqualification of six months and no maximum.

The maximum penalties for drink driving vary based on whether it is your first offence and how much over the limit you were.

For a first offence, you will often receive a fine and a period of disqualification, however for particularly high readings or repeat offending, you may receive a community based order. 

On a third conviction for an offence of driving under the influence of alcohol or a combination of other serious traffic offences within five years, a sentence of imprisonment must be imposed.

When might I be charged with drug driving?

’Drug driving’ as it is colloquially known, could be one of two offences:

  1. Driving with a relevant drug present; or
  2. Driving under the influence of a drug.

Relevant drugs are:

  • MDMA;
  • methylamphetamine; and
  • cannabis.

What are the penalties for drug driving in Queensland?

The maximum penalty for driving with a relevant drug present, is a fine of 14 penalty units (approximately $1800-1900) or 3 months imprisonment. There is a mandatory disqualification period of 1 month if you are on your open licence or 3 months if you are a learner or p-plate driver. The maximum disqualification is 9 months.

For the offence of driving under the influence of a drug, the maximum penalty is the same as high range drink driving - 28 penalty units (approximately $ 3,700) or imprisonment for 9 months. There is a minimum disqualification of six months and no maximum.

Can I be charged with drink driving and drug driving at the same time?

Yes.

If you provide a specimen of breath or blood and you are both over the alcohol limit and have relevant drugs in your system, you can be charged with drink and drug driving.

You won’t receive a cumulative disqualification (where the disqualification periods are added together) if you are charged with drink driving and drug driving at the same time – the disqualification will run concurrently.

A cumulative disqualification period will apply to you if you commit:

  • multiple drink or drug driving offences in close proximity; or
  • a drink or drug driving offence at the same time you commit an offence for driving without a valid driver licence.

Can I keep my licence for work purposes, if charged with drink and/or drug driving?

It depends.

Drug driving work licence requirements

Work licences are available for drug driving in the following situation:

  • The charge is driving with a relevant drug in your saliva or blood, NOT driving under the influence of drugs
  • At the time you were caught for driving with a drug in your saliva or blood you:
    • weren't driving for your job or already under a work licence
    • held a valid licence for the vehicle class you were driving
  • You hold a current Queensland open driver's licence
  • In the last five years you have not:
    • been convicted before of this or a similar offence (eg drink driving)
    • been convicted in Queensland of dangerous driving
    • had a licence suspended or cancelled (except in some circumstances).
  • You will lose your job if you have no licence.

Drink driving work licence requirements

You can apply for a work licence for drink driving if:

  • at the time you were caught for drink driving you:
    • weren’t required to have a zero alcohol limit;
    • held a valid licence for the vehicle class you were driving
    • had a blood alcohol level of less than 0.15%
    • were not driving for your job or already under a work licence
    • were not driving under a licence that required your BAC to be zero e.g. if you are on a learner, provisional, probationary or restricted license.
  • you hold a current Queensland open driver's licence
  • in the last five years you have not:
    • been convicted anywhere of drink driving or a similar offence
    • been convicted in Queensland of dangerous driving
    • had a licence suspended or cancelled (except in some circumstances).
  • you will lose your job if you have no licence.

Please be aware that you cannot turn up to court and say to the Magistrate you want a work licence – there are forms and affidavits that are required.

What appeals are available for drink and drug driving offences in Queensland?

If you are unhappy with the penalty you have received from a Magistrate, you can appeal to the District Court. There are strict time limits for filing an appeal, so please contact us urgently if you are considering an appeal.

Driving Without a Valid Licence

Driving without a valid licence, or contrary to the conditions on your licence, can result in charges.

Licence disqualification is mandatory in most cases and the length of that disqualification will depend on various factors.

There are two types of driving without a licence in Queensland.

  • Unlicenced driving
  • Disqualified driving

What is unlicenced driving?

It is an offence to drive a motor vehicle without a valid licence. The reasons your licence may not be valid include because it has expired, you have too many demerit points, or because it has been suspended by SPER because of a SPER debt.

You will also be charged with unlicensed driving if you do not hold a class of licence for the vehicle you’re driving, or if you’ve never held a licence.

What are the penalties for unlicenced driving?

The penalties for unlicenced driving vary. The maximum penalty for unlicensed driving is a fine of 40 penalty units (approximately $5,300) or 12 months imprisonment and, depending on the offence (why you are unlicensed), disqualification from one to six months. 

What is disqualified driving?

Disqualified driving is driving when your licence is disqualified by a Court. Driving while disqualified by a court is regarded by the courts as a serious offence, as it is seen as a contempt of the court’s order.

What are the penalties for disqualified driving?

The maximum penalty is 60 penalty units (approximately $7,900) or 18 months imprisonment, as well as a mandatory disqualification from driving for two to five years.

It is not unusual to see imprisonment imposed for a second or subsequent offence.

Can I appeal charges of unlicenced or disqualified driving?

Yes. If you plead guilty, you can appeal your penalty to the District Court.

If you plead not guilty, you can appeal your conviction and/or your penalty. There are strict time limits for filing an appeal, so please contact us urgently if you are considering an appeal.

If you don’t want to defend the charge, our goal in cases of driving without a valid licence is to minimise any penalties, including any period of disqualification. 

Dangerous Driving

Dangerous driving and careless driving are two separate offences in Queensland.

What is dangerous driving?

‘Dangerous operation of a vehicle’, commonly referred to as dangerous driving, is a criminal offence under the Queensland Criminal Code and is charged for more serious traffic-related incidents. This includes accidents where there is substantial property damage, or serious injury or death caused. 

If you’ve been charged with dangerous driving, it is a serious offence for which you should seek urgent assistance from an experienced criminal lawyer.

The prosecution must prove the “dangerousness” – such as high speed, driving while drug and/or alcohol affected, or some other serious departure from normal standards of driving.

It is however an offence which has various defences. Falling asleep, for example, can raise a specific legal defence, and we have been successful on many occasions in achieving a complete acquittal for clients charged with offences of this kind.

Serious instances of dangerous driving are dealt with in the District Court; whereas less serious cases may be dealt with by a Magistrate.

What are the penalties for dangerous driving?

Dangerous driving is regarded as a serious offence, particularly when involving alcohol or other drugs, or when injury or death results. 

Lengthy jail terms are often imposed upon those guilty of such driving. Even relatively simple cases of dangerous driving can involve shorter periods of imprisonment, or the imposition of a large fine, or other penalties such as having to perform unpaid community work.

Furthermore, all proven cases of dangerous driving carry a minimum licence disqualification period of 6 months; often, a longer period is imposed.

It is also common for people to be charged with dangerous driving and other offences at the same time. This includes drug or drink driving, refusing to provide a breath specimen or failing to stop.

Can I appeal a decision to revoke my licence if I’m convicted of dangerous driving?

Where offenders are disqualified from holding a driver’s licence for more than 2 years, they can apply to the court after two years for their licence back.

Such applications are not straight-forward though, and legal assistance should be obtained for anyone wanting to shorten their disqualification period.

Careless Driving

What is careless driving?

Careless driving, also known as “driving without due care and attention”, is an offence under the traffic laws of Queensland (as compared to an offence under the Criminal Code) and usually follows from a driver being found at-fault in a minor traffic accident.

These cases are dealt with in the Magistrates Court.

What are the penalties for careless driving?

The maximum penalties for careless driving are 40 penalty units (approximately $5,300.00) or 6 months imprisonment. Where death or serious injury is caused, the available penalties increase to 80 penalty units (approximately $10,500) or 12 months imprisonment. If you cause serious injury or death and were unlicensed, the maximum penalty is 160 penalty units or 2 years imprisonment.

Commonly though, for straight-forward cases of careless driving, a fine of a few hundred dollars is imposed.

A court may also impose a licence disqualification period as a result of a careless driving charge.  Unlike dangerous driving though, such a disqualification isn’t mandatory. A lawyer can assist you in attempting to avoid, or at least minimise, any disqualification period imposed for such a charge.

Licence Appeals

If you are facing a mandatory licence disqualification in Queensland, in many instances you will be eligible to appeal that disqualification by bringing an application for a “special hardship licence”.

What is a special hardship licence?

Special hardship licences will only be granted by the court if you are able to satisfy a Magistrate that you are a “fit and proper person” to hold a driver’s licence. There are generally two considerations:

  1. Reference to your traffic history; and
  2. Would loss of licence cause you “extreme hardship”?

What is extreme hardship?

“Extreme hardship” can mean financial hardship to you or your family. This includes being deprived of your ability to earn a living as well as hardship to another; for example, if you need your licence to care for a family member by transporting them to medical appointments.

How do I apply for a special hardship licence?

Licence appeals involve the careful drafting of affidavits from both yourself and your employer (if you are employed), as well as attaching supporting materials such as references and financial records.

We have successfully conducted hundreds of licence appeals and have the expertise to maximise your prospects of successfully appealing your disqualification.