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Restricted Licences in South Australia

Written by Michelle Makela

Michelle Makela is one of our Legal Practice Directors and the National Practice Manager. She holds a Bachelor of Laws, a Bachelor of Science (Psychology) and a Master’s in Criminology. Michelle has had a varied career, working in commercial litigation, criminal law, family law and estate planning. Michelle joined Go To Court Lawyers in 2011. She now supervises a team of over 80 solicitors across Australia.

Restricted licences can be issued to drivers who have not met all of the requirements stipulated in the Motor Vehicles Act 1959 for the issue of a full licence.  These can be issued where people have medical conditions preventing them from being able to undertake the full range of driving tests, or for farm workers and immediate family members of farm workers who do not have the requisite length of driving experience.

Many drivers who have been caught drink driving or drug driving will have their driver’s licence disqualified for a certain period.  For some drivers this is a significant blow, particularly if it affects their ability to remain employed or self-employed. Drivers who are applying for their licence after a period of disqualification will be required to have a probationary licence.

Restricted licences can be issued to drivers who have not met all of the requirements stipulated in the Motor Vehicles Act 1959 for the issue of a full licence.

How licences are regulated

Driver’s licences in South Australia are regulated by Part 3 of the Motor Vehicles Act 1959.  A restricted licence is a licence which is issued by the Registrar of Motor Vehicles and imposes certain restrictions such as where the driver can drive, what kind of vehicle can be driven and equipment to be fitted in the vehicle.  A probationary licence is also subject to certain conditions and is issued after a period of disqualification.

Licensing matters are dealt with by the South Australian Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure.

When restricted and probationary licences are issued

A temporary restricted licence may be issued to a person who has failed to satisfy the Registrar that he or she is fit to drive a motor vehicle (eg, for medical reasons).  A restricted licence may also be issued if it appears to the Registrar that a person on a learner’s permit cannot be expected to pass a hazard perception test or a theoretical test.  Restricted licences can also be issued by for HR (heavy rigid) or HC (heavy combination) class licences, in circumstances where the applicant is working on a farm or is transporting farm produce and has less than the required experience. 

After 12 months with the restriction in place, the person who holds the restricted licence may bring an application to have the restriction removed.

If a person applying for a licence has been disqualified from driving due to drink driving or drug driving and has committed at least one other DUI offence of the same nature within the previous five years, the Registrar of Motor Vehicles may require that person to undertake tests for determining whether that person is dependent on alcohol or drugs.  A driver with a dependence on alcohol may then be made to participate in a Mandatory Alcohol Interlock Scheme, until such time as he or she can demonstrate that they are no longer dependent on alcohol.  He or she will be issued with a probationary licence with conditions that they must not exceed the prescribed alcohol concentration and must affix the “P” plate to the car.

Consequences of contravening licence conditions

It is an offence to contravene a provision of a restricted licence or a restricted learner’s permit.  The maximum penalty for doing so is a fine of $1,250.  It is also an offence to contravene a provision of a temporary restricted licence, the penalty for which is also $1,250.

Drivers on probationary licences who contravene the terms of their licence will face disqualification from holding a licence for up to six months and will be required to attend a lecture; failing to attend the lecture attracts a fine of $750.

Many drivers who are facing disqualification are tempted to drive without a licence, rather than appealing to the Magistrates Court to reverse the decision of the Registrar to disqualify.  However, if a person drives a vehicle without a licence or a licence of the class required for a vehicle, he or she is guilty of an offence and may be fined up to $1,250. 

Drivers who contravene the licence conditions of a Mandatory Interlock Scheme face a fine of $2,500.  They may also be fined $2,500 if they attempt to interfere with the Interlock device.

Appeals to the South Australian Magistrates Court

Under section 81BB of the Motor Vehicles Act 1959, if a driver is liable to have their licence disqualified, they may bring an appeal if they are able to demonstrate that the disqualification will result in severe financial hardship and if it appears that granting a licence will not pose a substantial risk to the community.

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