Save my licence

If you have been charged with a traffic offence you are at risk of losing your licence.

There are five ways to save your licence.

  1. Win the case
  2. Apply for a limited licence or work licence
  3. Receive community work in lieu of disqualification
  4. Be judged to have committed the offence where there are special reasons not to disqualify you.
  5. Obtain an alcohol interlock device.

Winning a traffic case

There are two ways to win a case.

  1. Have the case withdrawn by the police
  2. Plead not guilty, go to a hearing, and be found not guilty.

That said – the concept of ‘winning’ a case can be too narrow – I find it more important to determine the overall result or outcome sought. E.g. If you are at risk of losing your licence you can ‘lose’ the case (be convicted) but ultimately save your licence which is the result you want.

I’ve successfully defended across the spectrum of traffic cases including drink driving, driving while disqualified, and boy racer charges.

Work or limited licence

A work licence or limited licence is the same thing.  It is a licence intended to relieve hardship and is most often used to assist with maintaining employment. That said it can be granted for other purposes such as family responsibilities.

Note: Limited licences are discretionary you have no right to be granted one.

There is a public safety aspect – if you have a history of bad driving it is going to require more work to have one granted, or the terms will be more restricted.

Am I eligible to apply?

Suspension for excess demerits

Yes. If you have been suspended for excess demerits you are eligible to apply for a work licence.  The licence can be granted immediately.  However you must take into account the time to file the paperwork and obtain a court date.  Courts usually require 3 days of processing time.  Courts in small centre’s sometimes don’t have dates available for weeks.  As such if you are facing a suspension for demerits it is best to contact me now so the paperwork can be arranged in advance and time off the road is minimized.

If you are a taxi driver or bus driver there are specific rules governing you so best to contact me – please have a copy of your demerit history at hand.

Disqualification for driving while disqualified, driving while suspended or driving contrary to my limited licence.

No.  You are prevented by law from applying.  No exceptions.  However you may be able to avoid disqualification through special reasons or community work.

Disqualification for drink driving, dangerous driving, careless causing injury, boy racer charges (racing, burnouts).

Maybe.  Please check these 3 conditions:

1.  Legal eligible to apply

If you have a previous conviction for any of these charges committed within 5 years of the commission of your current charge then you are prevented by law from applying.  No exceptions (Except if your previous drink drive was a youth drink drive charge).

It is best to obtain a copy of your summary of facts and list of previous convictions so the dates can be properly checked.

2. Hardship

You have to satisfy the court you or someone else will suffer hardship if you remain disqualified.  For instance – if you drive as part of your job e.g. a truck driver, and you will lose your job by nature, then you have a strong case.  If there are no public transport options to get to and from work you have a strong case.

3.  Public safety

Are you a danger to the public?  If you have a history of poor driving or drink driving there may be some extra steps taken to satisfy the court you are safe to be on the roads.

If you think you qualify for a limited licence please contact me.  The earlier the better given the delays that occur through the court which may leave your off the road for longer than you need to be.


For drink driving (except youth) dangerous driving, careless causing injury and other charges (except boy racer ones) there is a 28 day stand down period from the day you are disqualified in court until the day you may be granted a licence.  If you were suspended for 28 days by the arresting officer this does not count towards your 28 days.  There are no exceptions to this rule.

Given the time it takes to get the paperwork organised and book a court date (depending on which court you were disqualified in) it is best to get onto your licence as soon as possible.

For drink driving youth (between 150 and 400 reading and aged under 20) and boy racer charges (racing, burnouts) there is no stand down period.  As such you can apply for the licence on the same day or shortly thereafter (some courts won’t allow you to file a licence for a disqualification that has not started). In these cases it is essential to have the paperwork completed well in advance of being disqualified to minimize the time off the road.

On the 28th day or thereafter you must appear in court before a Judge.  If the licence is granted the court will make a copy of the paperwork (can take several hours) which you then take to the AA, pay them $50, and wait for them to process the licence.  The AA has implemented a new system which can delay the issuing of licences by up to 5 days. I am in talks with the AA on ways to avoid this totally unnecessary delay but it is essentially in their hands.


I charge $600 +gst to file the paperwork, negotiate with police on the terms and have an agent appear in court to support you on the day.  A court filing fee (charged by the court to the lawyer) of $150 may be applicable which is required to be paid upfront.  You will pay the AA directly $50 for the physical licence.

If there are particular issues with your case that would increase this cost I will advise at the initial consultation.

I offer a money back guarantee on any work licence I accept to undertake.


There are significant differences in the ‘quality’ of limited licences.  For instance I have seen numerous examples of self made licences, or licences drafted by inexperienced lawyers that fail to set out terms correctly and result in the client breaching the order unnecessarily.  The result of having a low quality job on your limited licence is generally to either have to pay to amend the terms or end up requiring representation on driving contrary to a limited licence.  So many licences are badly drafted that I specialize in the actual charge of driving contrary to a limited licence.  If convicted and disqualified for this charge you cannot apply for another limited licence.

A quality job results in the least possible restriction upon you and lessens the chance of requiring an amendment or breaching the order.

I have successfully represented clients on work licences from Whangarei to Invercargill and many courts in between.  If you would like assistance with your licence please contact me.

Community work in lieu of disqualification

This is a particular area I specialize in.

For practically all traffic offences there is a ‘mandatory’ disqualification period.

However there is a rarely used option to save your licence by doing community work.

There are a number of hurdles to get that result – the first one is you must have been previously disqualified by a court.  If so, then court considers your personal circumstances, the circumstances of the offending, the effect of further disqualification, and the public interest.

Quick eligibility test.

If you charged with a traffic offence e.g. drink driving, dangerous or reckless driving, boy racer charges, and have a previous conviction for any other of these types of traffic offence committed within 5 years of the present one – you are out of luck.

If not you may still pursue this option – the advantage over a limited licence is there is no restriction on your driving and no stand down period.  There is some debate over whether the court prefers you apply for a limited licence instead.

If you are facing driving while disqualified or driving contrary to a limited licence you are eligible to apply.

If you are facing driving while suspended you can only apply if you have previously been disqualified by a court.  Yes, this technically rewards previous bad behavior but thats the law.  (The leading case on this point was argued by me at the High Court in 2011)

If you are eligible and want to save your licence please contact me to discuss. Please have any paperwork handy specifically a summary of facts and previous conviction list.

Special reason not to disqualify

There is a provision in the law to not disqualify you for ‘special reasons’.

The first step is it must relate to the driving itself – not to the person.

It isn’t a bad thing if you are Mother Theresa and just happened to do some terrible driving, but that isn’t a legal provision.

The most basic example of a case that would probably win would be if you were disqualified and your friend broke their leg and there was no cellphone reception and you drove them to hospital.

I am often presented with ’emergency’ type situations.  The first questions the court would ask would usually be – why couldn’t someone else drive, why not an ambulance, why not a taxi etc..

If special reasons are accepted the court can then lessen the disqualification or impose no disqualification.

I have successfully argued for special reasons in all major traffic cases including drink driving, careless driving causing injury, and driving while disqualified.

Alcohol Interlock

This is a new way to keep you on the road.

It is a device that is attached to your car and you have to only drive that vehicle for a period of one year. During that time you must pay for the device and keep it calibrated. Any breaches can result in you having to spend an additional 6 months using it.

The main benefit is that unlike a limited licence there are no restrictions. The downside is you must pay for it (at approximately $2000/year) and there is a 3 month stand down period before you can use it.

To be eligible you must have had a previous drink drive case within the last 5 years, or had a new case with a reading over 800mg.