Queensland Traffic Law

There is a variety of traffic offences in Queensland, many of which are contained in the Transport Operations (Road Use Management) Act 1995.  The Criminal Code 1899 also contains traffic offences. A driver who is found guilty of traffic offences may accrue demerit points, receive a fine, have their licence suspended, or be ordered to serve a term of imprisonment.

Penalties for Queensland traffic offences

Some Queensland traffic offences can result in the immediate impoundment of the offender’s vehicle for 90 days. This can occur if a driver:

  • evades police
  • is involved in a race between vehicles
  • does a burn out
  • causes their vehicle to make unnecessary smoke or noise, or
  • is involved in dangerous or careless driving.

A repeat offender’s vehicle may even be forfeited to the state. This means the vehicle becomes a government asset that can be destroyed or sold. Excessive speeding offences – where the speed limit is exceeded by more than 40km/hr – result in an automatic suspension of the offender’s licence for a period of six months.

One of the most serious traffic offences is dangerous operation of a vehicle under section 328A of the Criminal Code 1899 which can attract a three-year term of imprisonment. If you kill someone while driving dangerously you can also be charged with manslaughter or dangerous driving causing death. The maximum penalty for manslaughter is life imprisonment and the maximum penalty for dangerous driving causing death is imprisonment for 10 years.

A person who is caught driving while their licence has been suspended by a court is deemed in contempt of court and will receive a further suspension period of at least two years. Repeat driving while suspended charges can result in a term of imprisonment.

Licence disqualifications in Queensland

If your licence has been disqualified for more than two years, you can apply to the court to have the suspension lifted. When considering this application, the court will take into consideration:

  • the offence for which the disqualification period was imposed
  • your behaviour since the offence occurred
  • your character, and
  • the hardship that not being able to drive is causing you and your family.

You will need to include an affidavit outlining why the disqualification should be lifted, and a copy of your traffic history. Disqualifications are not lifted lightly, as the magistrate is in effect revoking an order made by the court. If successful, you can take the order into the Department of Transport and have your licence re-issued.

You will still need to comply with the Department’s requirements which will depend on how much time has passed since you have held a licence. You may be required to sit a licence test and be on a provisional or learner’s licence. If the court refuses your application, you will have to wait another 12 months before you can reapply. It is therefore imperative that you seek legal advice from an experienced traffic lawyer prior to filing the application.

Hardship Orders in Queensland

If the Department of Transport has suspended your licence because you have been charged with driving more than 40 km over the speed limit, or you have received more than one demerit point while on your 12-month good behaviour licence, you can apply to the court for a Special Hardship Order.

This Order will allow you to obtain a special licence to drive, but there are strict requirements, and you only have 21 days to apply from when your suspension starts. To be eligible:

  • you must not have had your licence suspended or cancelled in the past five years
  • you must have held a current Queensland provisional or open licence immediately before the licence was suspended
  • you must show the court you a fit and proper person, and
  • you must show the court that if you don’t get a special hardship order, you or your family will suffer extreme hardship due to not being able to work.

Part 14 of the Transport Operations (Road Use Management – Driver licensing) Regulation 2010 outlines the requirements on obtaining a Special Hardship Order.

If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Go To Court Lawyers.


Michelle Makela

Michelle Makela is a Legal Practice Director at Go To Court Lawyers. She holds a Juris Doctor, a Bachelor of Science (Psychology) and a Master of Criminology. She was admitted to practice in 2006. Michelle has over 15 years experience in the legal industry, working across commercial litigation, criminal law, family law and estate planning. 

Legislation governing traffic laws in Queensland

The Queensland road rules are governed by the Transport Operations (Road Use Management – Road Rules) Regulation 2009. The Regulation outlines the rules drivers must obey while on Queensland roads. The Transport Operations (Road Use Management) Act 1995 and the Criminal Code cover the more serious traffic offences such as dangerous driving, and outline police powers, penalties and procedural information.

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