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Medical Licence Appeals

The RMS will usually suspend or cancel a person’s drivers licence if it becomes aware that they have a medical condition that could affect their driving. A person can appeal against a decision to suspend or cancel their licence for this reason. This article outlines what is involved in medical licence appeals.

When do I have to notify the RMS of my medical condition?

You are legally required to notify the RMS as soon as practicable about any “permanent or long term injury or illness that may impair your ability to drive safely.”

Failure to notify the RMS would have significant consequences if you are involved in an accident as a result of the condition. A person who is aware that they are suffering from a medical condition that impacts their driving, but chooses to continue driving, will be held to a much higher level of criminal responsibility should anything go wrong.

What tests can the RMS require me to undergo?

The RMS can require the holder of a drivers licence to undergo a medical examination to confirm their medical fitness to drive. The RMS can specify the particular doctor that they want to complete the examination. They can also require you to undertake a practical driving test and complete a knowledge test to demonstrate your ability to drive safely. The RMS can cancel or suspend your licence if you fail or refuse to undergo a test.

All of the above assessments can be required at any time (not just when you apply for your licence).

How does the RMS determine whether a person is medically fit?

The RMS is guided by the Assessing Fitness to Drive Guidelines published by Austroads. The Assessing Fitness to Drive Guidelines set out the medical standards for maintaining a licence in relation to a variety of conditions. Some of the most common conditions are epilepsy, sleep disorders (e.g. sleep apnoea) and eyesight deterioration/blindness.

The Assessing Fitness to Drive Guidelines set out the medical standards for a person to hold an unconditional licence. If the person fails to meet that level, the Guidelines set out the medical standards that a person must meet to be issued with a conditional licence. If the person fails to meet the conditional licence standard, usually the RMS will take action to suspend or cancel their licence.

Suspension and cancellation of a person’s licence for medical reasons

The RMS can cancel or suspend a person’s drivers licence if it appears that it would be dangerous for the person to drive a vehicle because of illness or incapacity. The RMS must notify the person of this decision. The suspension or cancellation can operate immediately from the giving of that notice (i.e. the RMS does not need to provide a “warning period”).

The RMS must tell the person the reasons for the suspension or cancellation, and what action the person can take to have the licence returned.

Can I appeal against the cancellation or suspension of my licence for medical reasons?

You can appeal to the Local Court against the suspension or cancellation of your licence on medical grounds.

You must act quickly

Your appeal must be lodged within 28 days of notification of the suspension or cancellation. The law assumes you received the letter 4 working days after it is posted (even if that is not the case in fact).

If you miss the lodgement date you will not be able to appeal the decision.

Can I keep driving while awaiting the outcome of my appeal?

If you are suspended on medical grounds, you will not be able to drive while awaiting the appeal.

What can the Local Court do?

When a person appeals against a decision to suspend or cancel their licence on medical grounds, the court can:

  • Allow their appeal. This means that their licence is returned to them.
  • Disallow the appeal. This means that the RMS decision stands.
  • Vary the RMS decision, for example by giving the person a conditional licence.

What do I need to do?

After your appeal has been lodged it is necessary to obtain sufficient medical evidence to satisfy the Local Court Magistrate that you meet the medical standards and are safe to drive. This can involve meeting with and obtaining reports from medical specialists. A lawyer can help you to decide what reports will assist your case.

If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter please contact Armstrong Legal. 

Michelle Makela

This article was written by Michelle Makela

Michelle has over 15 years experience in the legal industry, working across commercial litigation, criminal law, family law and estate planning.  Michelle has been involved in all practice areas of the firm and in her personal practice has had experience in litigation at all levels (State and Federal Industrial Tribunals, the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, the Federal Court, Federal...

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