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Is Licence Disqualification Mandatory? (WA)

There are many penalties that may be imposed by the court for traffic offences in Western Australia and the disqualification of a driver’s licence for a period is one of them. In some cases, if a person’s driver’s licence is not disqualified by the court when they are found guilty of an offence, they will incur demerit points. Periods of licence disqualification are often imposed in addition to fines or terms of imprisonment for motor vehicle offences. This article deals with mandatory and non-mandatory licence disqualification in WA.

Motor vehicle offences

A motor vehicle offence is defined as:

  • an offence that involves the driving or use of a motor vehicle
  • stealing or attempting or conspiring to steal a motor vehicle
  • receiving or attempting or conspiring to receive a motor vehicle
  • an offence where –
    • a motor vehicle is used;
    • the commission of the offence is aided or facilitated by the use of a motor vehicle.
  • An indictable offence where –
    • a motor vehicle is used after the commission of the offence to provide, or attempt to provide, a means for the offender to leave the place of the commission of the offence
    • a motor vehicle is used by the offender after the commission of the offence to avoid, or to attempt to avoid, apprehension.

Non-mandatory licence disqualification

Under section 105 of the Sentencing Act 1995, the court sentencing an offender for a motor vehicle offence may order they be disqualified from holding or obtaining a driver’s licence for a term set by the court.

The court may choose to use the discretionary power under this section when:

  • an offender uses a motor vehicle to leave the scene of a burglary;
  • an offender steals fuel and uses the motor vehicle to leave the fuel station;
  • dangerous driving
  • careless driving

Section 105 recognises the need to use the sanction of licence disqualification as a means of controlling and penalising users of the road who show a disregard for the law and the safety of the community at large.

Road safety is ordinarily the paramount sentencing consideration when dealing with offences under road traffic legislation. This means that principles of general and specific deterrence will be significant when determining the appropriate penalty for a person who has been found guilty of traffic offences.

When a person is found guilty of an offence that does not carry a term of mandatory licence disqualification, the court must consider whether the circumstances of the offence and the personal circumstances of the offender warrant the power conferred by section105 being exercised.

Mandatory licence disqualification

Mandatory licence disqualification periods apply to a number of traffic offences in WA. When a person is found guilty of one of these offences, the court has no discretion as to whether to disqualify them for driving and must impose a disqualification period of no less than the mandatory minimum.

Offences that carry a mandatory licence disqualification period in WA include dangerous or reckless driving, drug driving and drink driving where it is the offender’s second or subsequent offence or where they recorded a BAC of more than .08.

When a person is granted a licence after they have completed a period of licence disqualification, they may have an alcohol interlock condition imposed on their licence for a specified period. This means that their vehicle must be fitted with an alcohol interlock device, which prevents the vehicle from starting if alcohol is detected in the driver’s breath.

Situations where an alcohol interlock condition will be imposed include where a person has been found guilty of repeat drink driving offences within a five-year period and where a person has been found guilty of driving under the influence of alcohol or dangerous driving causing death.

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

Courtney Ashton - Associate - Perth

This article was written by Courtney Ashton - Associate - Perth

Courtney holds a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Criminology and Justice from Edith Cowan University and a Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice from the College of Law. Courtney is a dedicated practitioner who enjoys a challenge and has competently completed many traffic and summary jurisdiction matters. Courtney enjoys advocacy and has appeared in a number of drink driving,...

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