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This article was written by Sally Crosswell

Sally Crosswell has a Bachelor of Laws (Hons), a Bachelor of Communication and a Master of International and Community Development. She also completed a Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice at the College of Law. A former journalist, Sally has a keen interest in human rights law.

Special Hardship Order


In Queensland a driver who has had their licence suspended in some circumstances can apply for a special hardship order which will allow them to continue driving. For an order to be granted, the applicant must show that they or their family would suffer extreme hardship by being deprived of their means to earn a living, or severe and unusual hardship in another way. Special hardship orders are governed by the Transport Operations (Road Use Management – Driver Licensing) Regulation 2010.

What is a special hardship order?

A special hardship order allows a person to continue to drive under specific restrictions. The restrictions can relate to matters such as the purpose for driving, the class of vehicle which can be driven and the days and times when driving is allowed.

Who is eligible to apply for a special hardship order?

A person who has a suspended open or provisional licence is eligible to apply for a special hardship order that relates to a licence of the same class as the suspended open or provisional licence. An order is not available to a learner licence holder.

A person can be eligible if their licence was suspended because they accumulated 2 or more demerit points while subject to a good behaviour driving period, or because they were convicted of driving more than 40km/h over the speed limit.

Who is not eligible?

A person who has a suspended open or provisional licence is not eligible to apply for a special hardship order if, within the past 5 years:

  • they have had a Queensland driver licence suspended or cancelled, or have been disqualified from holding or obtaining one;
  • an authority to drive on Queensland roads under a non-Queensland driver licence previously held has been suspended;
  • they were made ineligible to hold a Queensland driver licence due to accumulating excessive demerit points or being convicted of driving more than 40km/h over the limit while unlicensed;
  • they have been convicted of dangerous operation of a vehicle.

Eligibility is not affected by the applicant receiving:

Applying for a special hardship order

A special hardship order application, with supporting evidence including an affidavit and a Notice of Driver Licence Suspension, must be lodged at a Magistrates Court within 21 days of the licence suspension. The affidavit must include information to support the granting of a special hardship order, such as that the applicant has no other reasonably available means of transport to work, or that the applicant is the only person available to drive a family member to regular and necessary medical treatment.

Once the application and supporting evidence is lodged with the court, a copy stamped by the court should be given to the Department of Transport and Main Roads at least 7 days before the court hearing date. The suspension is then lifted until the day before the court hearing

Granting a special hardship order

To grant an order, the court must be satisfied:

  • the applicant holds a provisional or open licence that would be valid but for the suspension;
  • the applicant is a fit and proper person to continue to drive, considering the safety of other road users;
  • refusal would cause extreme hardship to applicant or their family by depriving them of their means to earn a living, or severe and unusual hardship to the applicant or their family other than depriving them of their means to earn a living.

If a special hardship order is granted, a replacement licence can be issued. It will have a X3 condition code to show it is subject to a special hardship order. The order will last for the length of the suspension period. Once the order expires, a licence can be reissued without the X3 condition attached. If a driver’s circumstances change, the driver is entitled to apply to the court to vary the conditions of the order.

If a special hardship order is not granted, the licence suspension is reapplied, less any time served before the application was lodged.

Breaching a special hardship order

If a driver fails to comply with the order conditions, they can be fined more than $2700 and disqualified from holding or obtaining a licence for 3 months. That period starts at the expiration of the order or from the date of conviction if the order has already expired.

For advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.

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