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      medical licence suspension appeal

      Medical Licence Suspension Appeal

      In NSW, a medical licence suspension appeal can be made if you believe your driver’s licence has been wrongly suspended due to a medical condition.

      The purpose of suspensions is to safeguard road users if a person’s health condition poses a risk to safe driving practices. However, this can sometimes result in an overreach, whereby a person who is eligible to drive is suspended.

      In overturning this decision, you need a thorough assessment of your medical fitness to drive, from a qualified medical practitioner.

      Suspension and Cancellation of Driver Licence for Medical Reasons

      Transport NSW can suspend or cancel your driver’s licence on medical grounds if you may be a danger to road users due to an illness or incapacity.

      The RMS will notify you if it makes this decision, however, the suspension or cancellation is applied immediately after the notice is issued. The RMS does not need to provide a warning period unlike most licence appeals NSW.

      The Letter of Notice will include details like:

      • The start date of the suspension or cancellation
      • Reasoning for why your licence has been cancelled
      • Actions you can take to have the decision withdrawn or lifted – you may be asked to sit a practical driving assessment or a driver knowledge test (computer test) of road knowledge.

      How to Appeal a Medical Licence Suspension?

      To appeal a medical licence suspension or cancellation, you must lodge an appeal to the Local Court within 28 days of receiving a Notice of Suspension.

      The law assumes that you have received the letter 4 days after it has been posted even if that is not the case.

      If you do not lodge an appeal within this timeframe, you will not be able to appeal the decision.

      A valid appeal to the Local Court requires a correctly completed application to appeal against a decision of the RMS. This can be done:

      • Through the Online Registry
      • By filing a paper form – blank copies of the form are available at
        • your nearest Local Court registry or;
        • on the forms page on the Local Court website.

      An experienced Sydney traffic lawyer can assist you with completing the form properly.

      Once the form has been completed you can file it in person, by post, fax or email to the Local Court Registry. The form will not be processed until you pay the filing fee.

      If you are experiencing financial hardship, you may be able to apply to have your fee postponed, waived or remitted. If your application is successful, you must file your application in person or by post, you cannot do it through the Online Registry.

      If you are posting the form, you should post it to the court’s postal address. This is different to its street address. Court postal addresses are available on the Court locations, listing and sitting arrangements page on the Local Court of NSW website.

      Once your form has been processed, the registry will notify you of the date of your appeal. If you do not appear on this court date, the court may dismiss your appeal.

      There are 3 possible outcomes from a medical suspension licence appeal:

      1. The Court will allow the appeal and return their licence to them
      2. The Court will disallow the appeal and uphold the decision of the RMS
      3. The Court will vary the decision of the RMS – for example, it may give you a conditional licence.

      Successful Medical Licence Appeal

      For a successful medical licence appeal, you must obtain sufficient medical evidence to support your application. This evidence is important as it will convince the Local Court Magistrate that you meet the medical standards required and are safe to drive. An experienced licence appeal lawyer will be able to guide you through this process.

      Usually, a report from a medical specialist will be required which addresses the relevant criteria. A licence appeal lawyer will help you decide which reports will best assist your case.

      The report will typically include details like:

      • A brief description of your medical condition(s);
      • Why your illness or incapacity does not make it dangerous for you to drive a motor vehicle;
      • That, in their medical opinion, you are a fit and proper person to hold a driver’s licence.

      Your medical expert will also need to give evidence in court. You may also be required to give evidence and take an oath to tell the truth. The prosecution will cross-examine you and/or your medical expert.

      This is different to an exceptional circumstances licence appeal or regular licence appeal where the magistrate considers other matters like:

      • Your driving history including how long you have been driving and any other offences you have committed;
      • Why you need your licence, including the risk of losing your job as a result of a suspension;
      • Any hardships that you or someone else (life family) will suffer if your licence is suspended;
      • If you have alternate transport you can use to commute including public transport.

      Fitness to Drive Assessments

      A medical fitness to drive assessment will be conducted by a health professional. There are two medical standards that determine your fitness to drive:

      1. Private Vehicle driver standard (eg. cars, motorbikes etc);
      2. Commercial vehicle driver standard (eg. trucks, vans, company cars etc).

      Some medical conditions require specialist assessments. In this case, you will need to obtain a report from the appropriate specialist. The report will need to disclose that the expert believes your medical conditions are not likely to lead to a severe or sudden incapacity, or loss of concentration while you are driving.

      The RMS follows guidelines set by the Assessing Fitness to Drive Guidelines by Austroads. These guidelines set out the medical standards for maintaining a driver’s licence. Some examples of the conditions addressed in the guidelines include sleep apnoea, eyesight deterioration and epilepsy.

      If you fail to meet the standards of the conditional licence then the RMS will suspend or cancel your licence.

      Health Professionals’ Responsibilities

      The responsibility of a health professional is to advise you of the impact of your medical condition on your ability to drive. If you have been notified by your GP that a medical condition may affect your ability to drive safely then you need to report this to the licensing authority.

      Your GP or other medical professionals cannot contact a licensing authority to alert them of an incapability to drive because the relationship between you and your doctor is confidential.

      In the other states, medical professionals are only liable to report to a licencing authority if they feel the person is:

      • Unable to appreciate the impact of their condition;
      • Unable to accept recommendations due to cognitive impairment;
      • Continuing to drive against repeated medical advice and their driving is endangering the public.

      Practical Driver Assessments

      A practical driver assessment assesses if injury, illness or ageing impacts your judgement, decision making and vehicle handling. This assessment may also reveal the need for modifications to your vehicle to accommodate your impairment.

      The practical driver’s test is different to a regular driver competency test. It needs to be conducted by an occupational therapist or approved assessor. It is expected that you cover the expense of this test. Depending on your specific circumstances, the assessment may be carried out on road, off road or in a driving simulator.

      Can I keep Driving After Lodging the Appeal?

      If your licence has been suspended on medical grounds, you cannot drive while you are waiting for the appeal.

      Do I have to Notify the RMS of my Medical Condition?

      You have a legal obligation to report any “permanent or long-term injury or mental illness that may impair your ability to drive safely” to the RMS as soon as possible. Failure to do so may result in harsh repercussions, especially if you are involved in an accident because of your condition.

      The court will hold you to a higher level of criminal responsibility if it finds that you continued driving despite your awareness of your medical condition and its impact on your driving. If a person is seriously injured because of your failure to disclose your condition, this can result in charges of dangerous driving occasioning grievous bodily harm. This is an offence which usually results in a sentence of full-time imprisonment.

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