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A Good Behaviour Licence is a type of licence issued to full or unrestricted licence holders in New South Wales when they incur 13 or more demerit points. If you breach a good behaviour licence you will face a period of suspension. You cannot appeal against this suspension so it’s important to know your options.

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Driver unhappy to have breached a good behaviour licence

Breaching a good behaviour licence in NSW

In NSW unrestricted licence holders have a limit of 13 demerit points. If you incur 13 or more demerit points in any 3-year period, the RMS will send you a notice of suspension. Instead of serving a period of suspension, you can apply for a good behaviour licence under section 36 of the Road Transport Act. which means you have only two demerit points for 12 months.

If you incur two or more demerit points you will be suspended for double the original period of suspension. It is essentially a gamble. You can avoid a suspension however if you breach the conditions of a good behaviour licence you serve double the original suspension period. The length of the suspension depends on the number of points you have accrued.  

Demerit
points incurred
Initial period of
licence suspension
Period of suspension if
good behaviour licence

breached
13 – 153 months6 months
16 – 194 months 8 months
20 + 5 months 10 months

Appealing a good behaviour licence suspension

You can only lodge an appeal against an appealable decision. The Road Transport Act is clear that when the conditions of a good behaviour licence are breached – the holder must be suspended. A similar situation was considered in RTA v Wilson & Anor [2003] NSWCA 279. In that case, Mr Wilson held an unrestricted licence and appealed against a licence suspension imposed for exceeding his demerit point limit. The court found that:

“The demerit points accumulated; the automatic consequence was the suspension. Nobody “decided” anything. There was therefore nothing to appeal against.”

So unlike other licence suspension appeals, you cannot appeal to a court to vary or set aside a suspension from breaching the conditions of a good behaviour licence.

Can I just get a work licence or restricted licence for work?

Contrary to popular belief there is no such thing as a ‘work licence’ or a ‘restricted licence’ in NSW. If you breach a good behaviour licence and your licence is suspended, you cannot drive. This includes driving for work or any other particular reason. If you drive while suspended you risk being charged and facing heavy fines, disqualifications and a criminal conviction.

What to do if you’ve breached a good behaviour licence?

As a traffic lawyers we often speak to people who have breached good behaviour licences. Unfortunately, in many instances these people have already paid the fine without realising they will be suspended and there is little that we can do. If you breach a good behaviour licence, there is only one way to avoid a lengthy licence suspension. That is to avoid the points being incurred. There are three main ways in which you may be able to avoid the points and therefore avoid the period of suspension:

Successful review of the penalty notice

If you believe that the infringement or penalty notice has been incorrectly or invalidly issued you can request a review. If this is successful, the demerit points will not be incurred, and you will avoid the period of suspension. Read our guide to requesting a review of an infringement notice to learn more.

Go to court and plead not guilty

If you elect to have the matter determined by a court and plead not guilty the matter will be set down for a hearing. If the prosecution fails to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed the offence, then the matter will be dismissed. This means that the demerit points won’t be incurred, and you will not be suspended.

Go to court and plead guilty with an explanation

If you elect to have the matter determined by a court and plead guilty the court may exercise its discretion to not record a conviction. Some of the factors that a court may consider include:

  • How long you have been on the good behaviour licence
  • Your traffic record as a whole
  • The nature of the offence
  • Whether you have completed a traffic offenders program

The problem with taking a penalty notice to court

If you elect to have an infringement determined by a court, you run the risk of a criminal conviction. You can read more about the risks involved here. However, if you pay the fine and don’t take the matter to court your licence will be suspended. So, it’s a catch 22 – pay the fine and your licence is suspended. Take the matter to court after they take into account your traffic record you may be convicted anyway. For this reason, you should always speak to a traffic lawyer about your options and the likely outcomes.

What not to do if you’ve breached a good behaviour licence?

If you’re on a good behaviour licence and receive a new infringement notice, there are a number of things that you should not do:

Do not pay the ticket before seeking legal advice

Do not allow anyone else to pay it on your behalf either. Once paid, you will receive a notice from the RMS that your licence is going to be suspended. This is still the case, even if you wait until after the good behaviour licence period has ended.

Do not falsely nominate someone else

This is an offence and committing a criminal offence is never advisable. Secondly, if you are lucky and Revenue NSW simply reject your nomination rather than charging your with a criminal offence, your only option to avoid paying the ticket yourself becomes making a court election on the ticket. Details of your false nomination will be in the prosecutors file. A court is not likely to show you leniency and let you off that ticket when you’ve been dishonest. 

Don’t ignore the infringement – it won’t go away

Do not ignore the ticket so long that it goes to enforcement stage. It is a myth that ignoring the ticket eventually means it goes away. Another myth is that the ticket only applies from the day you pay it. The date of offence itself that determines when the points will be applied to your record.  If the offence occurred during the good behaviour licence period, you will still receive a suspension notice irrespective of when the fine is paid.

One response to “Breaching a good behaviour licence in NSW”

  1. Maira Byrant says:

    Hello, just wanted to mention, I loved this blog post.

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