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This article was written by Cara Maynard - Senior Associate – Canberra

Before joining the team at Armstrong Legal, Cara worked as a DNA expert preparing and giving DNA evidence in criminal trials. In this role she liaised with police, DPP and defence practitioner regarding a variety of matters including DNA transfer, deposition and recovery. Cara has reviewed and interpreted thousands of DNA profiles that were reported as intelligence to the NSW...

Immediate Licence Suspensions

A police officer has the power to issue an immediate notice of suspension when giving a persona penalty notice or a Court Attendance Notice for certain offences. This article outlines when an immediate suspension can be given and the requirements for its issue.

Which offences can attract an immediate suspension?

Police can issue an immediate licence suspension for the following offences:

  • exceeding the speed limit by more than 45 kilometres per hour for a provisional of full licence holder;
  • exceeding the speed limit by 30 kilometres per hour for you are a provisional licence holder.
  • low-range drink-driving (first offence);
  • drug-driving (first offence);
  • an offence involving the death of, or grievous bodily harm to, another person caused by the use of a motor vehicle, being an offence that comprises—
  • murder or manslaughter;
  • wounding or grievous bodily harm with intent;
  • reckless grievous bodily harm or wounding;
  • dangerous driving.

What does a Notice of Suspension Mean?

A notice of suspension by a police officer for the above offences must be issued within 48 hours of being stopped by police and will remain in force for three to six months, depending on the offence. As the name ‘immediate suspension notice’ indicates, the suspension takes effect as soon as the driver is issued with the notice.Any notice of suspension issued by a NSW authority to a NSW licence holder suspends that individual’s driving privileges Australia-wide. However, where an individual holds a licence from a different Australian jurisdiction, a NSW-imposed suspension will suspend driving privileges within the NSW jurisdiction only.


The decision of a police officer to issue a suspension notice can be appealed to the Local Court. In deciding the appeal, the court can:

  • allow the appeal (this means that suspension is removed); or
  • disallow the appeal (this means that suspension is to go ahead for the time set by the police); or
  • make an order as seems just to the court.

However, unlike appeals against decisions by the RMS (RTA) to suspend a licence, appeals against a police issued immediate suspension cannot be stayed (put on hold until the appeal is heard) unless exceptional circumstances are demonstrated.

Exceptional Circumstances

As stated above, a police issued suspension can only be stayed pending appeal in exceptional circumstances, as provided under regulation 135 of the Road Transport (General) Regulation 2013.

In considering whether exceptional circumstances exist, the court must consider:

  • the strength of the prosecution evidence;
  • the affected person’s need for a licence;
  • the potential danger to the community if an order is made;
  • any other matter that the Local Court considers to be relevant.

It is important to note that case law directs that loss of employment as a result of a loss of licence should not be, in isolation, regarded as an exceptional circumstance.

Appealing Police Suspensions – What Needs To Be Proved?

Appealing a suspension issued by police requires the applicant to show exceptional circumstances justifying a lifting or variation of the suspension. When determining whether exceptional circumstances exist the court is to take into account:

  • the applicant’s need for a licence.
  • the potential danger to the community if an order is made.
  • any other matter the Local Court considers to be relevant.

Time Limit For Lodging An Appeal

An appeal must be lodged within 28 days from the date of issue of the suspension. If an application is not lodged in time, the court cannot hear the appeal and the suspension must be served.

If you have a traffic matter or are concerned about receiving a notice of suspension of your licence, please contact Armstrong Legal.

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