Unrestricted licence holders who reach or exceed 13 demerit points are sent a Notice of Suspension, or are refused a licence if they apply for one. However, professional drivers have a demerit points threshold of 14 points, provided they meet the criteria.
Professional driver status was introduced on 31 January 2011. If you are currently subject to a suspension or refusal period issued before 31 January 2011, you are not eligible to apply for professional driver status.
Who is a professional driver?
A professional driver is a holder of an unrestricted licence who is:
- A motor vehicle driver who transports goods either inter and/or intra-state
- A bus, taxi or hire car driver who holds an authority issued under the Passenger Transport Act 1990.
The following conditions apply:
- You must earn an income for the driving work and drive more than 20 hours per week. Volunteer drivers do not qualify.
- You must have been a professional driver on the date of your last demerit point offence and on the date the notice of suspension was given (or the date you were refused a licence).
You do not qualify as a professional driver if:
- Driving a motor vehicle is incidental to your primary work such as a tradesperson, vehicle repairer, salesperson, carer, tow truck operator, food vendor etc.
- Your primary work is driving an implement (grader, road roller, bulldozer etc).
- You have not held a licence for more than six months because it expired or was disqualified, and you are now applying for a licence.
- Your primary work is personally driving a motor vehicle but the driving is not for the purpose of transporting goods.
- Your primary work is personally driving a motor vehicle to transport people but the driving is not for the purpose of transport under the Passenger Transport Act 1990.
- Your driving is only to transport yourself to your place of work or education.
Interstate licence holders are not eligible to apply for professional driver status.
When can I apply for professional driver status?
An application for professional driver status will be considered if you:
- Have been issued a notice of suspension (which has not yet commenced), or
- You have been refused a licence renewal and you have held an unrestricted NSW driver licence within the past six months, and
- In either case, you have accumulated exactly 13 demerit points.
An application for a professional driver status will not be considered if you have accrued 14 or more demerit points.
You do not need to have been a professional driver for the whole period during which you accrued the demerit points, however you must have been a professional driver at the date of the last offence, which caused you to reach 13 demerit points, and also at the date the Notice of Suspension was issued or your licence renewal was refused.
How do I apply?
If you have received a notice of licence suspension in the mail, you need to visit a registry or agency before the suspension period begins.
You will need to:
- Bring your notice of suspension with you.
- Meet all the criteria for a professional driver.
- Complete the Professional Driver Declaration form available from the registry.
- If you are a bus, taxi or hire car driver, you will need to provide your current Driver Authority.
If you have been refused a licence renewal because you have reached exactly 13 demerit points, to apply for professional driver status your driver licence must also not have been disqualified or expired for more than six months.
Information required on the Professional Driver Declaration form
When completing the Professional Driver Declaration form, you will need to include:
- The company/business name of your employer (includes self employed).
- If you are a taxi driver, the name of the taxi operator(s) and taxi network(s).
- The title of the job you are employed to do (eg truck driver or bus driver).
- The number of hours per week you are paid to perform this driving work.
- Confirmation that you were a professional driver at the date of your last demerit point offence and at the date you were issued a notice of suspension or the date your licence renewal was refused.
- Your contact telephone number.
- If you are a bus, taxi or hire car driver, the number and expiry date of your Driver Authority issued under the Passenger Transport Act 1990.
Verification of your application
Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) may check the information you provide on your declaration. This means that your employer can be contacted about what you are employed to do, the hours you work and to verify that you are paid for that work. RMS can also confirm that the Driver Authority issued to bus, taxi or hire car drivers is valid and current.
Important: Providing false information is a criminal offence. If the information you provide is found to be false, RMS may request the Police to prosecute. Heavy penalties, including a term of imprisonment, may be imposed by a court on conviction for the offence. RMS can also suspend your licence.
If your application is successful
If your application for professional driver status is successful:
- If a Notice of Suspension was issued, it will be withdrawn and your licence will not be suspended.
- If your application for a licence renewal was refused, the refusal will be withdrawn and your licence will be renewed.
- The 13 demerit points you have accrued, and all the related offences, will remain on your driving record.
Important: If you accrue more demerit points, you will be issued with a new Notice of Suspension, or a new refusal period will be applied.
If you are issued with a new Notice of Suspension or are refused a licence in future, you must submit a new application for professional driver status, as your employment as a professional driver may have ended since your last application.
If your application is unsuccessful
If RMS determines that you do not meet the eligibility criteria for a professional driver, you will be subject to suspension or refusal as for other unrestricted licence holders.
Provided you apply before the suspension begins, you have the option to apply for a Good Behaviour Period. If you elect to be of good behaviour, you cannot apply for professional driver status in the event that accrue further demerit points and are being suspended as a result.
Excessive speeding and court disqualifications for serious offences
The professional driver option is part of the demerit points scheme, and so is not available if you have been suspended for an excessive speeding offence. You are also not eligible if you have been disqualified by a court for a serious offence such as drink driving.