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Drink driving—work licences

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

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

I'm going to court for drink driving and I'm pleading guilty but I need my licence for work. Can I just tell the court this when I plead guilty and get a work licence?

No. To get a work licence you need to apply in writing to the court and it will decide whether you get one or not. And to be entitled to apply for a work licence at all, you must be able to say "yes" to all of the things below:

  • 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%
    • were not driving for your job or already under a work licence
    • were not driving under a licence that required your BAC to be zero e.g. if you are on a learner, provisional, probationary or restricted license.
  • at the time you apply for the work licence you hold a current Queensland open driver's licence
  • in the last five years you have not:
    • been convicted anywhere of drink driving or a similar offence
    • been convicted in Queensland of dangerous driving
    • had a licence suspended or cancelled (except in some circumstances).

Even if you can say "yes" that all of these things apply to you, to get a work licence:

  • you must apply to the court at the time you are convicted and before the court orders that you are disqualified from driving
  • you must show the court that:
    • you are a 'fit and proper person', and
    • that if you do not get one this will cause you or your family extreme hardship by depriving you of your means of earning a living.

I think I can say "yes" to all the things I need to get a work licence. What do I do now?

  • Go to court on the date set for your drink driving and tell the magistrate you want to apply for a work licence. Do not plead guilty then.
  • The magistrate will give you a court date a few weeks away which is the date you will actually apply for the work licence.
  • Fill in an application form (ask at the court registry for the form) and prepare an affidavit by you and your employer (or just by you if you are self-employed) explaining that you will lose your job if you have no licence.
  • Lodge the application and affidavit/s with the court and give a copy to the police prosecutor (you can do this on the court date or before).
  • When you go into court, make sure you tell the magistrate you are applying for a work licence and that the court and the prosecutor has a copy of your application and affidavits.
  • If your employer has done an affidavit, make sure he/she goes to court too.
  • You can then plead guilty. The magistrate will convict you and decide your application. The magistrate will make an order saying yes or no and for how long.
  • The court may want you or both you and your employer to give evidence as well as reading your affidavit/s.
  • If the court gives you an order for a work licence, read the conditions very carefully. Driving outside the conditions of your work licence is breaking the law and your work licence will be cancelled.
  • The court order is not a licence, it is an order saying you can have one, so do not drive until you have been to the Department of Transport and Main Roads with the court order and Queensland Transport has noted your licence.
  • If a court makes an order for a work licence and your job circumstances change, you can make an application to the court to change things. It is a similar process to the application for the work licence.

Remember, if you do get a work licence your alcohol limit is zero. So 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, ask a lawyer for legal advice. Legal Aid Queensland has a free guide, Are you going to lose your driver licence? to help you apply for a work licence or special hardship order.

Last time I got caught drink driving I could drive until I went to court. This time the police said I cannot drive from now on even though I am not in court for a while. What is going on?

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 are waiting to go to court for the drink driving offence, you can apply in writing to the court for a special licence.

It is hard to get this sort of licence because there are not many circumstances where you will be able to show the court you should get one. So if you intend to plead guilty when you do go to court for the drink driving, you might decide it's not worth trying for a special licence for the time you are waiting to go to court.

If you have had your licence suspended until court and you are thinking about applying for a special licence, ask a lawyer for legal advice.

Do I need legal advice?

You may need legal advice if you:

  • want to contest a drink driving charge
  • believe there are mistakes on your traffic history
  • need to know your prospects of success in appealing a decision of a Magistrate in a traffic matter, particularly the disqualification period
  • are going to court for drink driving and have had your licence suspended until court but you need to drive before then (you may need a special licence)
  • have more questions about applying for a work licence for drink driving or drug driving
  • are applying to remove a disqualification
  • have been charged with a drug driving offence.

Important: before seeking 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. 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

Legal Aid Queensland may provide legal advice on some traffic matters. Our Traffic Clinic provides specialist legal advice on complex traffic matters.

Legal advice may also be available from the following services.

Community legal centres may provide preliminary legal advice on traffic matters - check with individual CLCs whether they will advise on your matter.

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

Who else can help?

The following organisations may also be able to help you. They do not provide 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.

Last updated 26 May 2021

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