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Medical Fitness for Truck Drivers

It goes without saying that a truck driver’s licence is vital. Most drivers do everything in their power to protect it.

However, when a driver suffers from an illness or injury they can find themselves at risk of losing their licence due to circumstances beyond their control.

The processes for medical reviews of drivers licence can be tricky to navigate. Seeking help early to understand your rights and obligations is the key to keeping your licence.

When does a driver need to disclose a medical condition?

In each State and Territory of Australia drivers are required to notify their licencing authority of certain medical conditions. The exact requirement varies, but usually the obligation to notify applies to long term injuries and illness that could impact on the person’s ability to drive. It also applies where a condition worsens.

People are often surprised by the wide range of conditions that the authorities need to be notified of. Some examples of conditions that could be of concern include sleep apnea, black outs, epilepsy, drug and alcohol dependency, mental illness, diabetes, and vision and hearing impairment disorders.

What happens if a driver doesn’t notify the authorities?

Failing to notify the authorities of a relevant medical condition can have serious consequences.

In many cases drivers will receive a fine if they don’t tell the authorities about their condition. The driver may also find that their licence is void if they have failed to mention the condition on a licence application. This can result in them being charged for driving without a licence.

If the person is involved in a crash, they may find their insurance is invalid or that they are prosecuted for other serious criminal offences.

What happens once the authorities are notified?

Once the licensing authority is aware of the person’s condition, they will undertake an assessment of their fitness to drive. Each State and Territory across Australia uses the guidelines published by Austroads, known as “Assessing Fitness to Drive”. A copy can be downloaded from the Austroads website.

The Assessing Fitness to Drive guidelines set out clear criteria that a person must meet to keep their driver’s licence. The criteria is stricter for professional drivers.

The authorities may require you to undergo medical testing and provide reports from your doctors who will comment on whether you satisfy the criteria.

If the licencing authority finds that the person’s physical condition means that they are not well enough to drive safely, it may cancel or suspend the person’s driver’s licence. Alternatively, the authority may find that the person can keep their licence but must comply with certain conditions, such as undergoing regular medical reviews.

What if my licence is suspended or cancelled?

This is a situation where it is important to get professional help. A small mistake can be the difference between keeping and losing your driver’s licence.

In many cases, the driver can appeal against the decision to cancel, suspend or impose conditions on a driver’s licence. There are strict time limits for lodging your appeal, so it is important to seek help as soon as you are notified of the authority’s decision.

It is also often possible to resolve these cases through discussion with the authority. Sometimes the authorities make the wrong decision simply because the doctor’s report doesn’t provide all of the required information. In these cases, fixing the problem can be as simple as an updated report.

The most important thing that you can do to save your licence is to speak to a lawyer as soon as you realise that your medical condition could impact on your ability to drive. Providing the right evidence to the authorities from the outset can be the difference between keeping and losing your licence.

The team of traffic lawyers at Armstrong Legal are experienced in medical licensing matters, and always available to provide guidance.

*The Heavy Vehicle National Law applies in QLD, NSW, ACT, VIC, TAS and SA.

Image Credit – Brezina 123 ©

Written by John Sutton on July 21, 2018

John is the National Director of Criminal Law at Armstrong Legal. The experience John possesses, being a high quality mix of defence and prosecution skills, together with his team at Armstrong Legal, mean you can be certain of accurate, dependable and practical advice on how your matter can dealt with. View John's profile

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