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Drink driving—work licences

Learner, provisional and probationary licence holders must drive or ride with a 0.00 (zero) blood alcohol (BAC) level, regardless of age. Class RE motorcycle licence holders must also ride with a 0.00 BAC during their first year of riding, regardless of age or type of licence they hold.

If you get caught drink driving, and need a vehicle for your work, you may need to apply to the court for a work licence. If you do get a work licence your alcohol limit is zero (0.00). If you drive or attempt to drive with a work licence with any alcohol in your system you are breaking the law. There are very strict requirements to satisfy to get a work licence and you need to give a lot of detailed information to convince the Magistrate to give you one, not just stating you need a licence for work. You should get legal advice before applying for a work licence if you’ve been charged with a drink driving offence.

Acknowledgement—prepared using information from the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads.

Pleading guilty for drink driving but I need a work licence

If I’m going to court for drink driving and pleading guilty—but I still need a work licence—can I just ask the court when I make my plea?

No. To get a work licence you’ll need to apply in writing to the court and it will decide whether to give you one.

Applying to the court for a work licence

To apply for a work licence, you must be able to say "yes" to the following:

  • At the time you were caught for drink driving you:
    • held a current Queensland open driver's licence for the vehicle you were driving
    • had a blood alcohol level of less than 0.15%
    • weren’t driving for your job or already under a work licence
    • weren’t driving under a licence where your BAC must be zero (eg if you are on a learner, provisional, probationary or restricted license).
  • At the time you applied for the work licence you held a current Queensland open driver's licence.
  • In the last 5 years you haven’t:
    • been convicted of drink driving or a similar offence
    • been convicted in Queensland for dangerous driving
    • had a licence suspended or cancelled (except in some situations).

If these eligibility requirements apply to you, before getting a work licence, you still must:

  • Apply to the court at the time you are convicted, and before the court orders that you are disqualified from driving. (You can not apply for a work licence on a later date after you have been convicted and sentenced)
  • Show the court that:
    • you are a 'fit and proper person'
    • it would cause extreme hardship to you or your family by depriving you of your means or earning a living if you don’t get one.

Remember, if you do get a work licence your alcohol limit is zero (0.00). If you drive or attempt to drive with a work licence with any alcohol in your system you are breaking the law.

If you have questions about a work licence, get legal advice. Our Are you going to lose your driver licence? guide has information to help you apply for a work licence or special hardship order.

Why can’t I drive before going to court for drink driving?

The last time I got caught drink driving I could drive until I went to court. This time the police said I can’t drive from now on even though I am not in court for a while.

The law has changed. For all drink driving offences your licence is suspended immediately for at least the next 24 hours.

For some drink driving offences (for example if you were caught driving over the high alcohol limit, that is a BAC of 0.10% or more) your licence is suspended immediately until you go to court and finalise your case.

During the time you’re waiting to go to court for the drink driving offence, you can apply in writing to the court for a special licence (called a Section 79E licence). There are strict conditions for this type of licence.

If you are going to plead guilty to the offence it is not likely to be worth applying for a Section 79 E licence because you will be disqualified when the court deals with your matter. If you are applying for a work licence, you are better off having your work licence application heard as soon as possible, rather than applying for a S79E licence and then a short time later, applying for a work licence.

Get legal advice if your licence is suspended until your court date, and you’re thinking about applying for a Section 79E licence.

Do I need legal advice?

You may need legal advice if:

  • You want to plead not guilty to a drink driving charge
  • there are mistakes on your traffic history
  • you want to know if you will be successful in appealing a magistrate’s decision in a traffic matter, particularly the disqualification period
  • you are going to court for drink driving and your licence is suspended until court, but you need to drive before then (you may need a special licence)
  • you are applying for a work licence for drink driving or drug driving
  • you are applying to remove a disqualification
  • you have been charged with a drug driving offence.

Important: before getting legal advice you must have a copy of your traffic history to show the lawyer. This is available from a Department of Transport and Main Roads Customer Service Centre by filling in a form and paying a fee. Alternatively, you may be able to get a copy of “Queensland Traffic Outcomes” from Police Prosecutions with your QP9 for free. This will sometimes be sufficient, however if you dispute anything on your traffic history or the conditions of your licence, you will need to get your traffic history from Department of Transport and Main Roads. You should also apply for your QP9 before seeing a lawyer. Contact your local police/police prosecutions office to find out how.

Get legal advice

We may give legal advice on some traffic matters. Our traffic clinic gives legal advice on complex matters, including contesting a drink driving charge.

Legal advice may also be available from the following services.

Community legal centres may give preliminary legal advice on traffic matters. Check with them to find out whether they will advise on your matter.

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

Who else can help?

The following organisations may also be able to help you. They don’t give legal advice.

Queensland Traffic Offenders Program (QTOP) is an educational court diversion program for first and second time offenders pleading 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 about drivers licence, registration, and traffic fines.


Disclaimer: This page is provided as information only, and is not legal advice. If you have a legal problem, you should contact us or speak to a lawyer. View our full disclaimer.

Last updated 9 May 2022

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