If you have been charged with a drink or drug driving offence in Queensland you may be entitled to apply for a work licence. A work licence (also sometimes spelt work license) is also known as a restricted licence, workers licence, section 87 licence or day licence.
It is also critical to understand that the work licence must be applied for before the court imposes a disqualification period for the drink or drug driving offence. Once the court imposes the licence disqualification you cannot apply for a work licence.
Who can apply for a work licence?
To apply for a work licence you must satisfy the following conditions:
- at the time of the offence, you held a current Queensland open driver licence
- at the time of the offence, you were not driving for your job
- at the time of the offence you were not already driving under a work licence
- in the last five years, you have not been convicted anywhere of a drink driving offence or failing to provide a specimen of breath or blood
- in the last five years, you have not been disqualified from holding a licence or had your licence suspended or cancelled in Queensland (this does not include a SPER suspension that did not go to court) and
- your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level was below 0.15% or if it is a drug driving offence the charge must be one of driving with relevant drug in the system not driving under the influence of a drug.
Who cannot apply?
You cannot apply for a work licence if any of the following circumstances apply to you:
- at the time of the offence, you were driving a motor vehicle that you were not authorised to drive under an open or provisional licence
- you held a provisional licence or learners permit
- your blood alcohol level exceeded 0% while driving a truck or taxi or
- your BAC reading was above .15 (high range drink driving) or you were charged with driving under the influence of a drug.
If you have a drink or drug driving matter and are not eligible to apply for a work licence then we can help minimise your period of licence disqualification just visit our drink driving or drug driving webpage for more information.
What is a work licence?
A work licence allows a person convicted of certain drink or drug driving offences to drive for purposes directly connected with the means of earning an income. A work licence is available to employed and self-employed people. A work licence will allow you to drive to and from your place of work using the shortest route possible as well as drive for any required work duties.
A work licence cannot under any circumstances allow you to drive for personal reasons such as shopping, picking up your children, going to the doctor etc.
What’s the difference between a day licence, restricted licence and a work licence?
Nothing, they are all terms used by people to describe the same thing. The terms restricted licence or day licence are quite commonly used by the public. In the court lawyers, the police and the Magistrates generally use the terms work licence or section 87 licence. Queensland Transport tends to use the term restricted licence.
Getting a Work Licence
When to apply
You must make your application for a work licence in the same court that you required to attend for your drink or drug driving charge. You must also make the application BEFORE you are found guilty of the drink or drug driving offence. If you are disqualified by the court but later on find you need a work licence then it is too late.
When will the application be heard?
Generally your application for a work licence will not be heard on the first time that you appear in the court for the drug or drink driving offence. For instance, courts, such as the Brisbane Magistrates Court, Caboolture, Southport or Maroochydore Magistrates Court will adjourn the hearing of the application for a work licence to another date a few weeks into the future. Other courts such as Wynnum, Pine Rivers, Holland Park might hear a work licence application on the first court date.
What information must you provide to the court?
To make an application for a work licence you must provide the court with an affidavit of yourself and, if not self-employed, an affidavit of your employer. Your affidavit will need to address your personal, work, financial and driving circumstances.
Your employer’s affidavit must also address why you need a licence for your job and an explicit statement that you will lose your job unless you are issued with a work licence.
The affidavit must be in the correct format, contain all the necessary information to satisfy the Magistrate and properly witnessed. The affidavits must also be accompanied by an application form.
If required by the court, yourself and your employer may be required to give evidence in the witness box in front of the Magistrate.
You will also need to file an application called Application for an Order directing the issue of a Restricted Licence (s87) (Form F3181).
The application and affidavits need to be filed with the court and then served on the local police prosecution unit well before your court date.
One of the main reasons work licence applications are refused by Magistrates is that the affidavits are not correct or inadequate.
Things to consider
What should I wear to court?
You should wear the most business like clothes you feel comfortable wearing. Perhaps it best to describe the clothing as what you would wear to a job interview. Don’t wear your work uniform or clothes with prominent logos or writing. Never wear flip flops or shorts to court.
What should I bring to court?
You should have already filed in the court and served on the police prosecutor all your written material.
You should bring a copy of;
- Your signed and witnessed affidavit
- Your employers signed affidavit (if not self-employed)
- Any character references you wish to present to the court
- The application form you filed
- If you completed QTOP then a copy of the completion documents
You should also bring your driver’s licence and cash to pay for your new licence at Queensland Transport if a work licence is granted.
Will I get a criminal record?
Traffic convictions are just that, traffic convictions, they are not considered to be criminal convictions in practice. The courts are unlikely not to record a traffic conviction unless specific evidence is placed before it that a traffic conviction will harm you in some way. It is very rare to have no conviction recorded.
Will my matter be in the press?
Possibly, the court is an open court. What this means is that any person is entitled to watch and report on the court proceedings.
How long will I lose my licence for?
This is almost an impossible question to answer. It depends on your circumstances, your traffic history and criminal history (if any), your reading, the circumstances of your arrest and the Magistrate on the day. Only a traffic lawyer will be able to give you a proper estimate.
Generally the courts will impose a longer disqualification period where you are granted a work licence. This can be up to double the period you would get without a work licence.
A very general rough guide to penalties for a first time offender is listed below; please note this is not legal advice as to your potential penalty it is merely a rough general guide. Some Magistrates will increase your disqualification period with a work licence, others will not and this is why we cannot give you an accurate idea of your potential disqualification. Employing a lawyer will almost always reduce your disqualification period.
Drug driving is harder to estimate as the court is not provided with the exact amount of drugs in the system at the time of the arrest.
The court will generally allow you to refer any fine to SPER so you can pay it off.
What happens in court?
In the court the Magistrate will access your application and judge whether it meets the requirements of section 87 of the Transport Operations (Road Use Management) Act. Generally, the court must consider;
- whether you are a fit and proper person to be granted a work licence; and
- whether losing your licence will deprive you of the means of earning your income
The Court will also need to sentence you for your drug or drink driving offence. The police prosecutor will provide to the court the details of your offence and your traffic history. The prosecutor also has the power to object to you being granted a work licence.
At the end of the hearing you will receive a disqualification period, a fine and the Court may or may not grant you a work licence. We have an article on how drink driving charge are heard, on our blog.
How does the court judge my application?
In order for the court to grant a work licence you must show the court that you are a 'fit and proper person' and that if you don't get a work licence this will cause you or your family extreme hardship by depriving you of your means of earning a living.
The court will generally judge whether you are a fit and proper person based on your traffic history. Character references can also help a court decide you are a fit and proper person; this is especially true where your reading was mid-range (between .1 and .149
The court decides whether you will be derived of the means of earning your income based on your and if applicable your employer’s affidavit. It is critical to your application to show that you will suffer this extreme hardship. This is usually easier to prove for an employed person as your application must be accompanied by an affidavit of your employer that confirms you will be deprived of the means of earning your income if a work licence is not granted. It is harder to prove for self employed people and may require you to provide financial records to the court or to provide an additional affidavit of your accountant or the person you contract to.
Restrictions on a work licence
The court will restrict how the work licence may be used by you, for example the court may;
- restrict the times when you may drive
- restrict the purposes for which you may be able to drive
- restrict the class of vehicle you may drive;
- require you to complete a logbook
- require you to wear a work uniform
- restrict who you may carrying as a passenger in the vehicle
What can I do to improve my chances of getting a work licence?
You need to have a properly drafted affidavit that covers everything the court needs to know. This is the best way to get a work licence.
In addition the court will often take into account any character references you have obtained.
You should also complete a driving course such at Queensland Traffic Offenders Program (“QTOP”). This course is often the factor that sways a Magistrate into granting the application. We are proud to be a sponsor of QTOP.
Does my employer have to know about my application?
If you are not a contractor or self-employed but are employed then your employer must sign an affidavit confirming you will be deprived of your income if the work licence isn’t granted. Therefore if you are employed your employer will need to know about your application.
I’m self-employed or own the business can I apply for a work licence?
If a work licence is granted, you may be disqualified from driving for up to double the amount of time than if you had not applied for the licence. This is completely up to the Magistrate, some Magistrates will double, some will not.
The work licence will be issued for the entire period of your disqualification meaning that throughout the period of disqualification you would be able to drive for work purposes.
I was granted a work licence – now what?
If you are granted the work licence then before you can drive again then you need to go to Queensland Transport and have your licence re-issued as a work licence. You cannot drive to the Queensland Transport office. Also unless you are returning to work or driving for work purposes from Queensland Transport then you would need a lift home as your work licence would not cover for the trip between Queensland Transport and your home but it would cover you to drive from Queensland Transport back to work.
You must also comply with the requirements of any court order in relation to your licence, this may be the requirement to complete a logbook or similar. Also, throughout the period of the work licence you must keep a copy of the court order in any motor vehicle you drive.
What if I am not granted a work licence?
If you are not granted a work licence then you might have the right to appeal and this must be done within one calendar month of your court date. Those time limits are very strict. It is beyond the scope of this article to provide information on appealing the refusal to grant work licence, you would need to obtain urgent legal advice.
It’s just much easier to simply do the application correctly the first time.
What happens after my disqualification period?
After the period of disqualification has ended you will need to attend Queensland Transport and reapply for your normal licence. You cannot simply start driving after your disqualification period has ended.
After you have been disqualified you will be on a probationary licence for 1 year, this means that;
- You have only 4 demerit points available
- You have a zero alcohol limit for 1 year. This 1 year started at the time your licence was disqualified by the court and the work licence granted so you may only have a few months to run at this point.
You do not have to re-sit any tests to get your licence back.
Can I vary the work licence after it is granted?
Yes if your circumstances change you can apply to the court to vary your current order.
What happens if I’m caught driving outside the terms of the work licence?
You will lose your work licence for whatever time is left on it and in addition you will be disqualified for a further 3 months.
Frequently asked questions
Q. It says I cant apply for a work licence if I was driving for work at the time of the offence, when I was caught I was driving home from work, can I still apply?
A. Yes you may be able to apply, the court allows people to apply if generally driving is not the main function of their employment. This is a really complicated area of law and if you were driving for work or to or from work at the time of the offence you definitely need legal advice.
Q. I have previously been on a good driving behaviour period in the last 5 years, will this stop my from getting a work licence
Q. I have a mid range drink driving charge, the police gave me a notice saying I cannot drive until my court date but that’s not for 3 weeks and I need to drive or I will lose my job.
A. The court does allow person who is mid range and thus immediately suspended to apply for what is essentially an emergency work licence pending the court hearing their full work licence application. It is known as a section 79E application and is something that even many courts don’t know about.
Q. I am a plumber and get called out to emergency work, can I do this under a work licence?
A. If this information was put before the court then the Magistrate can allow this in the terms of the work licence. If it is not added to the work licence terms then you can only drive in accordance with the exact working of the work licence order.
Should I get a lawyer to represent me?
In a word, yes. Although you are free to represent yourself we have found that unrepresented people generally end up with a longer disqualification period and more importantly, are less likely to be granted the application because their paperwork is defective or does not adequately cover all the requirements of the Act. Remember you get one shot at this, you cannot reapply if you are refused. On one particular Court day recently, of the 5 people making an application for a work licence only our client was granted one.
It is also important to remember that during your period of disqualification you cannot drive to the shops, to pick up the kids etc so minimising the period of disqualification is critical. Common problems we have seen with unrepresented applications 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
- not providing the correct information to the court
If I’m going to engage a lawyer why should I engage Clarity Law?
At Clarity Law we are experts in Queensland traffic law. We are in the court every single day helping people with traffic charges. We have successfully argued the court grant almost 1,000 work licence applications. You simply can’t find a traffic law firm with more experience in the courts. We also have upfront fixed fees with no hidden charges.
Engaging Clarity Law to act for you
Engaging us gives you the best chance at obtaining the absolute lowest disqualification period and fine possible as well as having the work licence granted. We are the leading traffic law firm in South East Queensland, everyday our lawyers are in court getting the best outcome for clients. Just some of the benefits of us handling your work licence application include;
- we know the Magistrates and what they want to hear to give you the work licence and impose the lowest disqualification period
- we have good relationships with the police prosecutors meaning we can often have them not object to the court granting the work licence application
- we are there to help you through the process and make everything as stress free as possible, in most cases you will not have to say anything in court
- engaging us shows the court you are taking your charges seriously
- we will draft all the material including if needed your employer’s affidavit
- your matter will be heard early, often first, you do not have to wait for 20-30 other matters to be heard before you
- you will be fully informed of what is to happen in court and what this means for you after court
- unlike the police or the Magistrate, we are there to look after you, your privacy and your interests
Here at Clarity Law we have never failed in an application for a work licence. At best we have found from our experience that unrepresented people have only a 60-70% chance of getting a work licence.
What courts do you appear in?
We appear in every Court in South East Queensland. Just some of the Court we appear in are;
- Beenleigh Magistrates Court
- Brisbane Magistrates Court
- Caloundra Magistrates Court
- Caboolture Magistrates Court
- Gympie Magistrates Court
- Holland park Magistrates Court
- Ipswich Magistrates Court
- Maroochydore Magistrates Court
- Noosa Magistrates Court
- Pine Rivers Magistrates Court
- Southport Magistrates Court
- Toowoomba Magistrates Court
- Wynnum Magistrates Court
For a full list of Courts we appear in click here.
Will I need to come into the office to see you?
We have offices in Brisbane and on the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coasts as well as Brendale, Ipswich and Loganholme but in most cases we can handle everything by email and the phone without you ever having to come into our office. We are also open outside normal business hours for your convenience.
What do you charge?
We charge a flat fee of $1,800 for our services, that means no hidden charges or unexpected bills.
We are also upfront with our fees, if you look at other law firms few, if any, clearly list how much they are going to charge you. Clarity Law on the other hand are happy to list our prices as we are sure no other South East Queensland law firm can match our prices and experience. Our price includes;
- full preparation for court including checking for defences and devising strategy to minimise penalty
- negotiations with the police prosecution unit including obtaining traffic history and charge documents
- drafting all affidavit material
- arranging for you to attend a driving course (if appropriate)
- all telephone calls, emails and meetings with you
- detailed information to you on the likely penalty and information on what will happen at court and afterwards
- appearing in the court with you for your guilty plea to the drink or drug driving charge and for the work licence application
If I contacted you what would occur?
If you contact us then Steven Brough the firm’s founder or our office manager Belinda Smyth will take the call or receive the email. They have 40 years legal experience between them, we can provide immediate legal assistance and answer any questions you have. We will discuss your case, provide guidance and send a quote by email with additional relevant information about your charge, all at no cost.
If you want to engage us then it’s easy, there is a form you can complete and email back or complete online. If you don’t want to engage us or want to engage another firm that’s fine, you won’t be hassled and at worst you will just have more information about your charge and work licences. Once engaged one of our lawyers will go through your matter and contact you to discuss what the best way forward is to achieve the best results. Every one of our lawyers are very experienced with thousands of courts appearances between them.
How do I get more help or engage you to act for me?
We have been operating since 2010 and undertaken almost 1,000 successful work licence applications throughout South East Queensland.
If you want to engage us or just need further information or advice then you can either;
- Use our contact form and we will contact you by email or phone at a time that suits you
- Call us on 1300 952 255 seven days a week, 7am to 7pm
- Visit our drink driving page
- Visit our drug driving page
We cover all courts in South East Queensland from the Gold Coast to Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast and out to Toowoomba. We have 6 offices in South East Queensland to assist people. We are a no pressure law firm, we are happy to provide information to assist you, if you want to engage us then great, if not then you at least have more information about work licences and the court process. You won’t be chased or hounded to engage us. Remember its critical you get advice before going to court, a drink or drug driving charge no matter the reading will have an impact on you, your family and your employment or business.
Need more information?
We have a range of articles on work licences on our blog. Some of the most recent have included:
- The Essential Guide to Obtaining a Work Licence
- Special Hardship Orders v Work Licences
- How Drink Driving Matters are Heard in Queensland
This article general information only and not legal advice and is written subject to our disclaimer that can be read by clicking here