13 Mar

Removal of licence disqualification

In Murray v Commissioner of Police [2021] QDC 48, the Court was required to consider whether the Applicant had demonstrated that it was appropriate to remove an absolute licence disqualification imposed for an offence of Dangerous Operation of a Motor Vehicle.


On Christmas Day 2016, the applicant had been drinking heavily during the course of the day. At about 4.30pm that day, it was decided that he and others would go to another address in Springwood. The applicant ordered an Uber driver for one of his companions, but drove himself.

He drove a distance of about five kilometres. He was approaching the intersection of Jardine Drive and Rholanda Crescent at Springwood. At the same time the deceased child was walking with his older brother and family friends southwards along the western concrete footpath of Rholanda Crescent. 

The applicant approached the intersection at high speed, did not slow down nor apply his brakes. He lost control of his car, crossed the north and south bound lanes of Rholanda Crescent, crashing and ultimately killed a child. He was drink driving with a BAC of 0.162%

At the time of sentence in the Beenleigh District Court the Applicant was 25 years and had a limited criminal history and an excellent work history.  His traffic history included speeding offences and the accumulation of demerit points.  He had completed a traffic offenders program.

On 18 December 2017, he entered a plea of guilty in the Beenleigh District Court to an offence of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death (while affected by an intoxicating substance).  He was sentenced to seven years imprisonment with parole eligibility after two years. The Applicant was disqualified absolutely from holding a driver licence.


The Applicant had served two years and two months before being granted parole. He was subject to strict conditions, including that he must not consume any alcohol.

The building company he used to work for was prepared to rehire if he was able to obtain a driver licence. A job with the building company would require him to have a valid driver licence because he would be required to drive to construction sites, sometimes up to four different sites on any given day, and to drive to suppliers to collect materials, tools and equipment. 


His Honour, Judge Chowdhury DCJ dismissed the Application.


His Honour had regard to the desirability for a person to engage in meaningful employment. 

Long periods of disqualification from driving may prove a very severe handicap to man when he comes out of prison and desires to pursue a different type of life to that which has led him into that prison. Such periods of disqualification may shut out a large sector of employment, especially in certain areas. 

R v Shirley [1969] 1 WLR 1357 per Sachs LJ

The court balanced the above against the need for the disqualification to be an actual penalty as discussed in Silvo v Commissioner of Police.

a driver licence disqualification can hardly be considered a punishment for a prisoner during the period of incarceration.” 

Slivo v Commissioner of Police [2016] QDC 46, per Judge FARR, DCJ at [41]

Ultimately, the court found that a judgement is required which balances the interests of the applicant in having his or her licence restored with those of the community in not prematurely sanctioning the right of an offender to resume driving after committing a serious criminal offence which placed in jeopardy the safety of members of that community.

In all the circumstances Judge Chowdhury was not satisfied that the applicant has met his onus in establishing that the absolute disqualification should be removed at this point.  His Honour suggested that minimum period of 12 months in the community was required. The Beenleigh District Court did not set aside the absolute licence disqualification.


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