Clarity Law -

South East Queensland's most experienced traffic law firm

Hardship licences

The basics

A special hardship licence or special hardship order is a licence issued when you exceed 2 demerit points on a good driving behaviour period or have exceeded the speed limit by more than 40 km/h (high speed suspension).  It is also known as a hardship licence, SHO, demerit point licence or special hardship order.

If you accumulate too many demerit points, Queensland Transport will write to you giving you the choice of a licence suspension (usually 3 months) or a 12 month good behaviour driving period where you have 1 demerit point for 12 months.  If you choose the suspension or do not reply to this letter, then you have no appeal and cannot get a hardship licence.

If you opt for a good behaviour driving period and lose two or more demerit points during that time, in certain circumstances you can apply to a Magistrates Court for a special hardship order to enable you to drive for particular purposes only.  The grounds for applying are:

  • that losing your licence will result in extreme hardship to you or your family by depriving you of the means of earning a living; or
  • that losing your licence will cause you or your family severe or unusual hardship

Where you have exceeded the speed limit by more than 40 km/h (high speed suspension) then once that offence is finalised (generally when the speeding ticket is paid) Queensland Transport will send a letter with a date your licence will be suspended for 6 months and it is at this point you can apply for a special hardship licence.


Can I apply?

If you have had your licence disqualified by a Court in the last five years you are not eligible to apply for a special hardship licence. In most cases, if your licence has been suspended by Queensland Transport in the last five years you will also not be able to apply for a special hardship licence unless that suspension related to an unpaid SPER debt.   You must also hold an open or provisional Queensland drivers licence to apply for a hardship licence.

If you are granted a special hardship order you can only drive in accordance with the conditions in the special hardship order. Generally the licence conditions will specify you may drive for work purposes and/or certain defined occasion’s e.g.  taking someone to hospital on a regular basis to receive treatment or taking children to school where there is no public transport options at all.

A special hardship licence is only available where you have exceeded the demerit points on a good driver behaviour period or have exceeded 40 km/h.  You cannot get a special hardship licence because;

  • the court has already disqualified you but you need to drive
  • you have been convicted of a drink driving offence and need a licence (see work licence application)
  • you are on a learners but need to drive to work without someone else in the car to supervise
  • you don’t have a licence or are on a learners licence but need to drive

Where and when can I apply?

You must lodge an application for a special hardship licence within 21 days of the date the suspension starts.  The application for the special hardship licence must be undertaken in the Magistrate’s court nearest to where you live. Once you have filed your Application and supporting documents you will be given a court date and you can drive as you like up until midnight before that Court date.


Will I get a Special Hardship Licence?

Special hardship licences have become more common as the amount of speed cameras and other police enforcement on Queensland roads have increased.  The Courts have recently begun cracking down on the issue of special hardship licences; it is no longer as easy to get a special hardship licence as it once was however with the use of proper material and submissions to the Court we can maximise your chance of getting a hardship licence and indeed our success rate is over 99%.

Any application for a special hardship licence will require detailed affidavits from yourself and if applicable, your employer, you cannot simply lodge letters from yourself or your employer.  The Court must be satisfied that your will lose your means of earning your income or there is some other issue that without a licence will cause you to suffer a special hardship.  The hardship cannot be a mere inconvenience or difficulty, it must be a special hardship.  The Courts will need to be convinced no public or alternative transport is available to you.

The application is heard before a Magistrate who will decide whether you get the special hardship licence based on your affidavit material and what you say in the court.


Do I need a lawyer?

Should your engage a lawyer to represent you? In a word yes.  Although you are free to represent yourself we have found that unrepresented people are often not granted the application because their paperwork is defective or does not adequately cover all the requirements of the legislation.  Remember you get one shot at this, you cannot reapply if you are refused.  Our experience is that less than 50% of unrepresented people are granted a special hardship licence.  

Common problems we have seen with people actiing for themselves in seeking a special hardship order include;

  • Failing to have the court grant the licence for all hours you work
  • Failing to have the court grant the licence for all days you work
  • Failing to take into account the time you have to leave for work in the morning or return after work
  • Failing to have the licence issued for all the vehicle types you need to drive
  • Failing to have the order allow you to carry passengers
  • Failing to specify other occasions when you may be able to drive
  • Failing to address before the court a bad traffic history
  • Lodging a letter from an employer rather than an affidavit

Remember if you are unsuccessful with your special hardship licence then you will not be able to drive at all for a minimum of 6 months.


Why engage Clarity Law and not another Law firm?

We are Queensland’s leading traffic and driving law firm.  We undertake special hardship applications every week throughout South East Queensland (for a list of Court we appear in click here).  We know the Magistrates and what it takes to be successful in an application.  No other law firm in Queensland would undertake more special hardship applications in a week than Clarity Law.  We have made hundreds of special hardship licence applications and no firm can match our experience level.  We know what driving courses or workshops the Magistrate will want to see you attend and know how to put a person’s traffic history in the best light.  We have acted for doctors, lawyers, tradies, students, business owners, school teachers in fact we have probably acted for every profession or trade in Queensland.


What Courts do you appear in?

 We appear in every Court in South East Queensland.  Just some of the Court we appear in are;

1.            Beenleigh Magistrates Court

2.            Brisbane Magistrates Court

3.            Caloundra Magistrates Court

4.            Caboolture Magistrates Court

5.            Gympie Magistrates Court

6.            Holland park Magistrates Court

7.            Ipswich Magistrates Court

8.            Maroochydore Magistrates Court

9.            Noosa Magistrates Court

10.          Pine Rivers Magistrates Court

11.          Southport Magistrates Court

12.          Toowoomba Magistrates Court

13.          Wynnum Magistrates Court

For a full list of Courts we appear in click here.


What do you charge?

We charge a fixed fee of $1,800 for all the work to get a special hardship including;

  • Drafting all the necessary affidavits
  • Advising you of any courses or workshops that will help your application
  • Addressing any concerns that Queensland Transport may have with your application
  • Keeping you informed as to what will happen with the application process
  • Appearing with you at the court to argue for the special hardship licence to be granted

In most cases we can do all the necessary work over email and the phone meaning you would not have to come into our office at all.  If you do need to attend our office we are we have offices in Brisbane, the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast.  We also open outside of normal business hours to assist you further.


How to contact us

We are happy to discuss, free of charge, whether you can apply for a special hardship licence and what activities the Court may allow you to drive for.

Feel free to contact us by phone on 1300 952 255 seven days a week or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.