Join Wiseman Lawyers Traffic Lawyer Andrew Wiseman at Chinchilla Magistrates Court as he represents a client charged with Unlicensed Driving. Watch Andrew explain what happened in the courtroom, along with the outcome which he achieved and how he achieved it.
All right, today I’m at Chinchilla Magistrates Court. COVID’s coming to an end and we’re finally getting back to physical court appearances. Basically since March everything’s been done over the phone. So conference calls, so the court will call me, court will call the client, and then I’ll do all the talking via a conference call. It’s got its pros and it’s cons. Without physically being in the courtroom it’s hard to sort of exert any kind of forceful presence, but that’s it. I’ve got a pretty drill sergeant like voice, so even over the phone, I pretty much get what I’m after. But I do very much prefer to physically be in the courtroom. It’s a lot easier to dodge and weave and react to matters or the direction of the matter as it happens.
So yeah, basically three months of phone appearances. As I said, pros and cons. You save a bit of travel time, and you can be a little bit more casual in your dress, because no one’s actually looking at you. It’s a telephone call, not a video conference, but it’s good to be back on the road, back in the suit, and back physically at courthouses. My first physical appearance was early this week at [Beaudesert] on Tuesday, and today here I am, Thursday, 11 June, 2020, in Chinchilla.
Bit of an unfortunate story for this client. I’m going to try and use as much veiled speech as I can, given he’s a prominent member of the immunity. But basically, he’s got what’s called a high speed offence. So he was intercepted exceeding the speed limit by more than 40 kilometres per hour. Two things happen when you do that, you get an immediate six month suspension, but you also get eight demerit points. Ordinarily if someone’s got plenty of points, they’ll absorb those eight demerit points and they’ll just have the six month high speed suspension and that’ll be it. Well, it won’t be it, but for the sake of this story. Or those eight demerit points will cause that person to run out of points, in which you’ll get a letter from Queensland Transport, separate to the high speed suspension, inviting you to choose between separate three month demerit point suspension.
So as I said, automatically you get a six month high speed suspension, but separate to that, you get invited to choose between a entirely separate three month demerit point suspension, because you’ve run out of points, or what’s called a 12 month good driving behaviour period. So if you want to apply for what’s called a special hardship licence to allow you to drive for work purposes during your high speed suspension, it’s vital that you elect that good driving behaviour period. But the client today was already on a good driving behaviour period, meaning… Because when you’re on a good driving behaviour period, you’ve only got two demerit points. So he’s got a high speed suspension for six months, plus eight demerit points whilst on a good driving behaviour period. Meaning in addition to the high speed suspension, because he’s breached that 12 month good driving behaviour period, that’s triggered an entirely separate six month demerit point suspension.
In any event, he, without a lawyer, applied for what’s called a special hardship licence that allows you to drive during your suspension, whether it’s a high speed suspension or a demerit point. The process is exactly the same, depending on what type of suspension you have. 90% of the time, people either have one or the other. They’ve got a high speed suspension and they’re now on a good driving behaviour period, or they’ve just got a lesser speeding ticket. Meaning, 12 Ks over the speed limit, and they’ve lost those two points on a good driving behaviour period. And they now have a six month demerit point suspension that they were to apply for special hardship licence on.
But my client, because as I said, he was already on that good driving behaviour period, in addition to the six month high speed suspension, the eight points that he also received breached the good driving behaviour period and he got a separate six month demerit point suspension. Anyway, those suspensions ordinarily start on different dates. So let’s say your high speed one might start a month after your infringement. Whereas the demerit point one may start six weeks or two months afterwards.
Now if you want to apply for a special hardship order to cover both the high speed suspension and the six month demerit point suspension, it’s absolutely imperative that you approach Queensland Transport and you request that the start dates of the two suspensions be brought forward to be the same day. Because if you go and apply for a special hardship order without doing that, and it’s granted, it’ll only be granted for the suspension that’s starts first in time. And that was the case with this client. Again, I wasn’t acting for him when this all happened. He rang me well after the event. So his high speed suspension started, I think off the top of your head, some date in April. The demerit point one wasn’t due to start until May. He’s applied for a special hardship order without having brought that May court date forward. To his credit, the special hardship application was granted.
But unbeknownst to him, and it’s not the magistrate’s job to explain this to him or Queensland Transport’s job, you’re expected to be adequately represented or competent when you represent yourself, the special hardship order that he was granted only covered the high speed suspension. So whilst that fixed the high speed suspension, allowing him to drive for work purposes only, he also had that at the same time, concurrent demerit point suspension. Meaning, while he continued to drive during the high speed special hardship order period, he was also driving unlicensed during the demerit point suspension period, if that makes sense.
It’s quite complicated and most lawyers don’t get it, let alone poor old Joe public who’s trying to have crack himself. So the long and short of it is, he was caught speeding during his high speed special hardship licence period, and that triggered a speeding ticket. Well, it wasn’t actually a ticket, he was simply caught over it because it was… Generally, if you get [inaudible] for speeding, which is ordinarily an infringement notice, along with other charges that require you going court, sometimes they’ll just bundle it all in one and make you do all of them at court, including the speeding ticket. Which can have its pros and cons, but that’s a video for another day.
Basically, so he’s been caught speeding and he overstated his reasons for speeding and basically departed the scene before the police were finished with him. And when they investigated his reasons had proved to not have been a lie, but to have been slightly exaggerated. And for that reason, he was charged with obstruct police. And if you obstruct a police officer in their duties, and it’s proven to have been… I mean, there are reasons why it can be lawful, but it was found out that the reason that he obstructed them in their duties wasn’t lawful. So he was in charged with that. So yeah, one charge of driving on a demerit point suspension, unlicensed driving. One charge of speeding, one charge of obstruct police for basically making the intercept difficult and departing before he was permitted to do so.
Basically my job was one of, A, minimising the penalties. And B, with the obstruct police, which is a… it’s not a criminal offence, it’s a quasi-criminal offence. But if you’ve got a conviction for obstruct police on your history, it’s not a good look regardless of what you do for a living. So I was getting the disqualifications down as low as possible, getting the fines down low as possible, and pushing for naked eviction recorded on the obstruct police charge. It’s almost impossible to get no conviction recorded for unlicensed driving, because it’s not drink driving. It’s not drug driving. Like the magistrate knows you haven’t [inaudible], if you come up with some fanciful argument about no conviction recorded for unlicensed driving. But it was certainly imperative to get it for the obstruct police charge.
Look, for unlicensed driving on a demerit point suspended licence is a [inaudible] six months. But the beauty of it is he still has five months left of his existing demerit point suspension, and court ordered disqualifications to start on the day of court. So what we’ve done is we’ve brought his court date forward to today. So it’s been brought forward about a month, and then finalised today. So the six months starts from today, so it overlaps what’s remaining of his demerit point suspension. So he’s come only suspended until late November, and today being the 11th of June means he’s overlapping disqualification ends 10 December. So 11 June being the first day of this disqualification, 10 December is the last day. So he’s really only got an extra three weeks of what he’s already got.
I managed to get low fines for the unlicensed and the speeding, but with regarding the obstruct police… Well no, sorry, low fines for the unlicensed and obstruct police and convicted, not further punished, for the speeding, which basically means literally what it sounds like. You’re convicted, but I’m not going to penalise you further. He will get demerit points, there’s not could be done about that. So I believe it was two demerit points off the top of my head, I can’t remember. It’s the small issue in the scheme of things. But yeah, with the regard of the abstract police, he got a low fine and I was able to persuade the magistrate not to record a conviction.
So in summary, he got the [inaudible] six month disqualification from today, meaning he only off the road for an extra three weeks beyond the existing six month suspension. He got convicted, not further punished, for the speeding. And no conviction recorded with a low fine for the obstruct police. The client, not withstanding his frustration at having got himself in this situation, he’s understandably relieved and very happy. And I guess is a valuable lesson there in not only self-representation, but getting a lawyer that doesn’t specialise in your problem.
I’ve seen it. I’m talking about an unrepresented person making this mistake. But I see lawyers time and time again make these mistakes and not fess up to their error. Like they sort of… “We’ll appeal, we’ll appeal, we’ll appeal.” No, you won’t. There’s no error at law. But I guess, yeah, there’s a lesson there in DIY. Yeah, it might be good for your patio and whatnot, but a lot of the time it blows up people’s faces in the courtroom. And you wouldn’t do your own dental work, and even doing your own accounting can be dangerous if you’re self-employed. And then just getting a lawyer in itself, isn’t always a solution either. Because you get the guy who did your mum’s conveyancing. Yeah, mum might have got the house in her name without any problems, but just because someone knows their way around land stamp duty and whatnot, doesn’t mean they know much about traffic law.
And traffic law, it seems like a reasonably narrow area of law, but it’s a deep chasm. It’s like a crack in the ice. And I see, as I said, lawyers and unreps get tripped up time and time again because they think, “It’s just traffic law, how hard can it be?” But then stories like the one you just heard happen and people, they’re caught unlicensed driving because they thought they know boats and they don’t know boats.
Anyway, I’m Andrew Wiseman, back on deck post COVID, actually at court and enjoy it. Travelling around Queensland and loving it. Keep an eye out for a Bundaberg video. We’ve got a Bundy job coming up. But because there’s no flights, or not enough flights to make it worth flying, I’ll be driving up for that one. So there’ll be a ride along video there, and who knows what we’ll be doing in the interim. But yeah, Andrew Wiseman at Chinchilla Magistrates Court, thanks for watching.
Andrew represents clients at all Queensland courts, namely Alpha Magistrates Court, Atherton Magistrates Court, Aurukun Magistrates Court, Ayr Magistrates Court, Badu Island Magistrates Court, Bamaga Magistrates Court, Barcaldine Magistrates Court, Beaudesert Magistrates Court, Beenleigh Magistrates Court, Biloela Magistrates Court, Birdsville Magistrates Court, Blackall Magistrates Court, Blackwater Magistrates Court, Boigul Island Magistrates Court, Boulia Magistrates Court, Bowen Magistrates Court, Brisbane Magistrates Court, Bundaberg Magistrates Court, Burketown Magistrates Court, Caboolture Magistrates Court, Cairns Magistrates Court, Caloundra Magistrates Court, Camooweal Magistrates Court, Charleville Magistrates Court, Charters Towers Magistrates Court, Cherbourg Magistrates Court, Childers Magistrates Court, Chinchilla Magistrates Court, Clermont Magistrates Court, Cleveland Magistrates Court, Cloncurry Magistrates Court, Coen Magistrates Court, Cooktown Magistrates Court, Coolangatta Magistrates Court, Cunnamulla Magistrates Court, Dajarra Magistrates Court, Dalby Magistrates Court, Darnley Island Magistrates Court, Doomadgee Magistrates Court, Duaringa Magistrates Court, Emerald Magistrates Court, Gatton Magistrates Court, Gayndah Magistrates Court, Georgetown Magistrates Court, Gladstone Magistrates Court, Goondiwindi Magistrates Court, Gympie Magistrates Court, Hervey Bay Magistrates Court, Holland Park Magistrates Court, Hughenden Magistrates Court, Ingham Magistrates Court, Inglewood Magistrates Court, Innisfail Magistrates Court, Ipswich Magistrates Court, Julia Creek Magistrates Court, Kingaroy Magistrates Court, Kowanyama Magistrates Court, Landsborough Magistrates Court, Lockhart River Magistrates Court, Longreach Magistrates Court, Mabuiag Island Magistrates Court, Mackay Magistrates Court, Mareeba Magistrates Court, Maroochydore Magistrates Court, Maryborough Magistrates Court, Mer Island Magistrates Court, Millmerran Magistrates Court, Mitchell Magistrates Court, Moa Island Magistrates Court, Monto Magistrates Court, Moranbah Magistrates Court, Mornington Island Magistrates Court, Mossman Magistrates Court, Mount Garnet Magistrates Court, Mount Isa Magistrates Court, Murgon Magistrates Court, Nambour Magistrates Court, Nanango Magistrates Court, Noosa Magistrates Court, Normanton Magistrates Court, Oakey Magistrates Court, Palm Island Magistrates Court, Pine Rivers Magistrates Court, Pittsworth Magistrates Court, Pormpuraaw Magistrates Court, Proserpine Magistrates Court, Quilpie Magistrates Court, Redcliffe Magistrates Court, Richlands Magistrates Court, Richmond Magistrates Court, Rockhampton Magistrates Court, Roma Magistrates Court, Sabai Island Magistrates Court, Sandgate Magistrates Court, Sarina Magistrates Court, Southport Magistrates Court, Springsure Magistrates Court, Stanthorpe Magistrates Court, St George Magistrates Court, Tambo Magistrates Court, Taroom Magistrates Court, Thursday Island Magistrates Court, Toogoolawah Magistrates Court, Toowoomba Magistrates Court, Townsville Magistrates Court, Tully Magistrates Court, Warraber Island Magistrates Court, Warwick Magistrates Court, Weipa Magistrates Court, Winton Magistrates Court, Woorabinda Magistrates Court, Wynnum Magistrates Court, Yam Island Magistrates Court, Yarrabah Magistrates Court, Yeppoon Magistrates Court and Yorke Island Magistrates Court.