Losing your licence

Information about when you could lose your licence and when you may be able to appeal (challenge) that decision.

You may be suspended from driving if you:

  • commit a serious offence including high level speeding offences
  • speed on your learners or P1 licence
  • if you get too many demerit points, or
  • if you don't pay your fines.

You may lose your licence on the spot after you are stopped by police or you may get a Notice of Suspension from Transport for NSW (TfNSW) (formerly known as Roads and Maritime Services or RMS) that states the date on which you will lose your licence.

A susp​ension is different to a disqualification. A suspension can be imposed by the Police or TfNSW, but a disqualification is only i​​mposed by the court. You may be disqualified if you are convicted by a court of a serious driving offence. If you have been disqualified from driving, this section does not apply to you. For more information about your options after your licence has been disqualified by the court, see After court.

  • Get legal advice

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    If you are not sure whether or not you can drive, you should check with TfNSW or get legal advice.

If your licence is suspended, you will not be able to drive until:

  • the end of the suspension period for the offence,
  • you have appealed the suspension to the local court and had your suspension lifted,
  • you go to court and defend the offence and are found not guilty
  • you go to court and are found guilty but the court records no conviction, or
  • you pay the fine that led to your suspension, or TfNSW remove your suspension when you go on a payment plan.

There are serious penalties for driving while you are suspended, including licence disqualification, large fines and imprisonment. If your licence has been suspended and you are caught driving, you should get legal advice.

You do not need to re-apply for your licence at the end of the suspension period. You can start driving again straight away, as long as you still have your licence and it hasn’t expired. 

If the police took your licence, you must contact TfNSW to replace your licence before you start driving again. 

If your licence expired while you were suspended, you must renew it before you start driving again. 

If you commit a serious driving offence, the police can charge you, give you a Court Attendance Notice (CAN) and suspend your licence on the spot.  Some examples of serious driving offences include:

  • negligent driving, where someone is seriously injured or dies
  • serious speeding offences
  • some offences involving driving and drugs or alcohol
  • street racing and burnout offences
  • if you breach your licence conditions, for example if you are a learner driver and you drive without a supervising driver.

If the police don’t suspend you on the spot, TfNSW can suspend you. They will send you a notice of suspension.

For more information, see On-the-spot suspension.

TfNSW can suspend your licence if you are photographed driving more than 30 km/hr over the speed limit by a speed camera. The amount of time your licence is suspended will depend on how fast you were going. For example:

  • over 30 km/hr and up to 45 km/hr over the speed limit, your licence will be suspended for 3 months
  • over 45 km/hr over the speed limit, your licence will be suspended for 6 months.

TfNSW will send you a letter suspending you from driving. The letter will tell you when the suspension will start and how long it will last. TfNSW may send you a letter suspending you from driving:

  • after you pay a speeding fine, or
  • when the deadline for applying to go to court has passed, if you did not pay the speeding fine or choose to go to court.

Your licence can also be suspended because of demerit points or unpaid fines.

For more information, see Speeding.

Demerit points are a penalty that you receive for certain offences.

When you get a driver licence, your demerit point balance is zero. If you commit a traffic offence with a demerit point penalty, the points will be added to your driving record. Offences with a demerit point penalty also come with a fine.

If you get too many demerit points on your driving record, your licence will be suspended, or Transport for NSW (TfNSW) may refuse to renew your licence.

You can receive demerit points for an offence anywhere in Australia. If you commit an offence outside of NSW, the demerit points for that offence in NSW will be added to your driving record.

For more information, see Demerit point suspension.

If you have unpaid fines in NSW, Transport for NSW (TfNSW) can suspend your driver licence, marine safety licence, or visiting driver privileges, and/or cancel your vehicle or vessel registration.

For more information, see Unpaid fines.

If your licence has been varied, suspended, cancelled, or refused because of a medical injury or illness, you may be able to appeal to the Local Court of NSW.

If Transport for NSW (TfNSW) has suspended or cancelled your licence because they require further information from your doctor, you should provide this information as soon as possible.

Take the notice of suspension or cancellation to your doctor so they know what information TfNSW requires.

Before you appeal, you should get legal advice. If your appeal is unsuccessful, you may not have any further avenues of appeal.

For more information, see Appeal your medical suspension.

If your licence has been suspended, in some cases it is possible to appeal to the local court against the suspension.

​The court will not look at your guilt or innocence for the offence at that stage.

You must file your appeal within 28 days of receiving the TfNSW Notice of Suspension or within 28 days from when you received the 'on the spot' suspension. If you do not file your appeal within 28 days, even if the court accepts your application, the magistrate will not be able to hear your case.

If you received the TfNSW Notice of Suspension by post, the law assumes that you received the notice four working days after it is posted. 

For more information, see Appealing the suspension.

Before appealing the suspension, you should get legal advice.