We filed a Supreme Court proceeding against VicRoads this week to challenge their practice of withdrawing demerit point suspension notices if your drivers licence expires prior to the start date of the licence suspension period.
What has been happening is when you incur a demerit points suspension (any variety or it) they will serve on you a notice of suspension if you currently hold a Victorian drivers licence. The notice tells you how long your suspension is for and when it begins. If your drivers licence then expires prior to the date when the suspension begins they won't activate the suspension but instead wait until you next renew your licence, then they send you a new notice telling you again that your licence is suspended for the same number of months.
If your licence expires the day after the points suspension starts, they will let the suspension run its usual course. But if your licence expires the day before the suspension commences, they freeze the suspension until you have renewed your licence.
VicRoads claims it sends letters to people telling them that the initial suspension has been withdrawn because they no longer hold a current drivers licence, and tells them "You are not permitted to drive until you have a current drivers licence". The words "expired" and "renew" do not appear at all in the letter, so the driver is usually left in a state of complete confusion as to what it all means and what they need to do. Nowhere does it suggest they gallop down to VicRoads and renew their drivers licence so that they can start their demerit points suspension. So people have been sitting out their suspension periods and only applying for a licence when the suspension period (usually 6 months but often much more) has ended.
My current client never got the withdrawal letter and waited 16 months before renewing his licence only to then receive a letter telling him that his 18 month demerit points suspension is going to commence in 4 weeks time! I have other clients with similar problems who are also considering taking court action.
So in issue in the Supreme Court proceeding is whether it is lawful for VicRoads to withdraw its decision to suspend a persons driver licence and then wait until the licence has been renewed before they activate the suspension. If you have recently received a letter from vicroads that says they have withdrawn the option letter or withdrawn the licence suspension notice, you should seek legal advice about it ASAP as there are time limits on steps you can take in court to resolve the issue. The only time that VicRoads is permitted to withdraw an option notice or withdraw a licence suspension notice is if some of your demerit points have been cancelled (nominated or reversed) since the notice was sent to you.
In my opinion, once VicRoads has served a notice of suspension they have to enforce that suspension and can not withdraw the notice or stop the suspension unless it is permitted by legislation. It is only permitted if points are reversed or if the licence has been suspended or cancelled in the interim. It can not happen if the licence has simply expired.
Licences, Registration, RWC, ADR
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