If you are pleading guilty to any sort of charge of drug driving you will lose your licence. You may be able to apply for a work licence. There is no other special licence that you can get no matter how much you need a licence or how good your reasons are (e.g. for taking children to school; taking mother for cancer treatment). Because it is not for work, there is no power for the Court to give you a licence.
I am going to Court for a ‘drug driving offence’ and I am pleading guilty. I am the only driver in the family and I need my licence for work. Can I get a work licence?
It depends. There are different types of ‘drug driving offences’. You may be charged with driving or being in charge of a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or you may be charged with driving or being in charge of a vehicle with cannabis, ecstasy or ICE in your saliva or blood (but not under the influence).
If the charge is driving or being in charge of a vehicle while under the influence of drugs, you cannot get a work licence or any sort of order which lets you drive. You will be disqualified from holding or obtaining a licence for a period. During this period and afterwards until you get a licence, if you drive you are breaking the law.
If you are charged with driving or being in charge of a vehicle with cannabis, ecstasy or ICE in your saliva or blood (but not with driving or being in charge or a vehicle while under the influence of drugs, which is a more serious charge), then you may be able to get a work licence. See the next question for more information.
I was driving and the police have charged me with something about driving and drugs – the police said I will lose my licence but I can still get a work licence. Is it just like with drink driving?
No, although there is a similar process. If you drive after using drugs, you may test positive to drugs in your system. If you are charged with driving or being in charge of a vehicle with cannabis, ecstasy or ICE in your saliva or blood (but not with driving or being in charge or a vehicle while under the influence of drugs, which is a more serious charge), then you may be able to get a work licence. Always ask a lawyer about the charge before you go to Court.
As with drink driving, you will 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:
- the charge is the less serious charge of driving with a drug in your saliva or blood, not driving (or being in charge of a vehicle) under the influence of drugs.
- at the time you were caught for driving with a drug in your saliva or blood you:
- held a current Queensland open driver’s licence for the vehicle you were driving.
- were not driving for your job or already under a work licence.
- at the time you apply for the work licence you hold a current Queensland provisional or open driver’s licence.
- in the last five years you have not:
- been convicted before of this or a similar offence (e.g. drink driving).
- 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 your livelihood.
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 driving charge 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 boss (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 boss has done an affidavit, make sure your boss goes to Court too.
- You can then plead guilty. The Magistrate will convict you and decide your application; that is, the Magistrate will make an Order saying yes or no and for how long.
- The Court may want you or both you and your boss 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 the department has noted your licence.
- If after a Court makes an Order for a work licence and your job circumstances change, you can make an application to the to change things. It is a similar process to the application for the work licence.
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