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Licence disqualification

Community Legal CentresYour driver licence may be disqualified if you’re found guilty of some traffic offences including (but not limited to) drink or drug driving, dangerous driving or driving while disqualified.

If your licence is disqualified for more than 2 years, you may be able to apply to have the disqualification removed after 2 years. You can’t apply before this time.

When receiving a licence disqualification this can affect whether you can drive in other states or overseas depending on where you received the penalty.  

If you’re found guilty of a drink driving offence, you may have to participate in the alcohol ignition interlock program, even after the licence disqualification period is over. Get legal advice.

Driver licence disqualification

If you’re found guilty of some traffic offences (eg drink or drug driving, dangerous driving, or driving while disqualified), the court must cancel your licence and make an order disqualifying you from holding or getting a driver licence for a period of time. The disqualification period may be for a few months or a few years depending on the offence.

If your licence is disqualified for more than 2 years, you may be able to apply to have the disqualification removed after 2 years.

If you’ve had 2 or more cumulative disqualifications (to be served one after another), that are still current, get legal advice. 

If your licence was disqualified before 3 March 2002 for unlicensed driving (including disqualified driving) you can apply directly to the Department of Transport and Main Roads to get your licence back.  Get legal advice.

Applying to have a licence disqualification removed

You may be able to apply to have your licence disqualification removed if:

  • you’ve been disqualified by a Queensland court from holding or getting a driver licence for more than 2 years, and
  • it’s been more than 2 years since the date of the disqualification order.

You should get legal advice before applying to have a licence disqualification removed, as this is a complex area of law, particularly if you have cumulative disqualifications.

How to apply

You’ll need to apply to the court that made the order to disqualify your licence. For example—if the order:

  • was made by the Supreme Court then you must apply to the Supreme Court  
  • was made by the District Court then you must apply to the District Court.  
  • was made by the Magistrates Court:
    • if you live in Queensland, you must apply to the Magistrates Court near where you live, or
    • if you live interstate, you must apply to the Brisbane Magistrates Court.

If you’ve been disqualified in both a Magistrates Court and in the District or Supreme Court, you must make separate applications to the courts to have a licence disqualification removed. You can’t apply for a driver licence until all of your disqualifications are removed or the disqualification periods have ended.
To apply, you must:

  • Get a copy of your traffic history from the Department of Transport and Main Roads. Fees will apply.
  • Get a copy of your criminal history from your local police station if you’ve ever been to court or been in trouble with the police. Fees will apply
  • Check your details are correct. You should make sure that 2 years have passed since the date of your licence disqualification. If not, you must wait until the 2 years have passed, before making an application.
  • Fill in an application form (available from the court registry) and lodge it with the court. The court will give you a court date (usually 6 to 8 weeks after the application is filed).  
  • Write an affidavit explaining why you were disqualified, your criminal history, your traffic history and why you want your licence back.
  • Serve a copy of your application and affidavit on the Police Prosecutor—for the Magistrates Court—or the Commissioner of Police if in District or Supreme Court. You must give the police prosecutor 28 days’ notice of your application. You don’t have to serve a copy of the affidavit on the police prosecutor until your court date.
  • Attend the court date. The court may want you to give evidence as well as reading your affidavit. The prosecutor and the magistrate or judge may ask you questions.

When deciding whether to make an order to remove your licence disqualification, the court will consider:

  • your character
  • the reasons for your disqualification
  • how you've behaved since you were disqualified
  • any other relevant circumstances.

If your application is approved

If your application is approved, the court will make an order removing your disqualification. This order is not a licence.

Before you can drive again, you must apply to the Department of Transport and Main Roads for a licence. When applying, you must show them the court order. You may have to pass the usual licence testing procedures before giving you a licence. 

If your licence disqualification was because you were found guilty of a drink driving offence, you may have to participate in the alcohol ignition interlock program even after the disqualification has been removed. Get legal advice.

Licence disqualifications overseas or interstate

If your licence was disqualified overseas or in another state or territory, it can affect whether you are able to drive or get a licence in Queensland.

If you had a Queensland driver licence when your licence was suspended or disqualified overseas or in another state or territory, the Department of Transport and Main Roads may decide to cancel your licence. Get legal advice.

You’re not allowed to drive in Queensland on an overseas or interstate licence if:

  • you’ve been disqualified from holding or getting a driver licence by an Australian court or
  • your overseas licence has been disqualified, suspended, cancelled or has expired.

Even if you have a valid overseas or interstate licence, you may not be allowed to drive in Queensland. Get legal advice.

If you’ve been disqualified from holding or getting a driver license overseas or in another state or territory you may not be eligible to apply for a Queensland driver licence.

It’s a criminal offence to apply for Queensland licence when disqualified in Queensland or interstate. Get legal advice.

Alcohol Ignition Interlock Program

If your licence was disqualified for a drink driving offence committed on or after 6 August 2010, you may have to participate in the alcohol ignition interlock program.

An alcohol ignition interlock is a device connected to a vehicle’s ignition needing the driver to give a breath sample before starting the vehicle. If any alcohol is detected in your breath, the vehicle won’t start.

The alcohol ignition interlock program may apply to the following:

  • driving under the influence of alcohol
  • failure to give a specimen of breath or blood for analysis
  • having two or more drink driving offences (of any kind) within a 5 year period (on or after 6 August 2010)
  • dangerous driving while affected by alcohol, or
  • any offence involving a breach of the alcohol ignition interlock program requirements.

While being part of the interlock program, you’ll have to drive a vehicle fitted with an alcohol ignition interlock device and you must have a BAC of 0.00% at all times when driving.

Strong penalties may apply if you don’t follow the rules of the interlock program. If you’re charged with a breach of the interlock program, get legal advice.

Installing the ignition interlock device

To install the ignition interlock device contact one of the contracted interlock suppliers. You’ll have to pay for the installation, rental, servicing and removal of the interlock device.

If you’re a low income earner, you may be eligible for a discount or financial assistance. Contact the Department of Transport and Main Roads for more information.

Program timeframes

You’ll have to be a part of the program for up to 2 years after your drink driving disqualification period ends. You may be able to leave the program early if you meet certain conditions.
To be eligible to leave the program early, you must have met all of the following conditions for at least 12 months:

If you don’t follow the rules, the minimum period may be extended.

The maximum period you have to be on the interlock program is 2 years after your drink driving disqualification period ends. The interlock program will end after 2 years even if you have had an interlock device fitted to your vehicle for less than 12 months. If you’re unsure, get legal advice.

Interlock program exemptions

In limited situations, you may apply to the Department of Transport and Main Roads for an exemption from the interlock program. There are strict criteria that you’ll need to meet to be eligible for an exemption. Get legal advice.

Do I need legal advice?

You may need legal advice if you:

  • have been charged with a traffic offence
  • are applying to remove a licence disqualification
  • want to apply for an exemption from the alcohol interlock program.

How to get legal advice

We may give legal advice about licence disqualification.
The following services also give legal advice:

Community legal centres may give legal advice on traffic matters. Contact them to find out if they can help.

Queensland Law Society can refer you to a specialist private lawyer for advice or representation.

Who else can help?

The organisations below may be able to help. They don’t give legal advice.

Queensland Traffic Offenders Program (QTOP) is an educational court diversion program for first and second time offenders who want to plead guilty to a traffic offence, including drink driving, unsafe driving, disqualified driving, suspended licence, appealing licence disqualifications (fees apply for this service).

Department of Transport and Main Roads deals with complaints and enquiries concerning drivers licence, registration, traffic fines, etc.

Under the Limit is a 6 week drink driving prevention and rehabilitation program that is offered through the magistrates courts in association with a probation order or on legal or self-referral. Fees and conditions will apply.

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