Special Hardship Orders

car driving fast along a road at night
If you accumulate too many demerit points or if you are convicted of committing a high speed offence, you face a mandatory licence suspension imposed by Queensland Transport. In most cases,the suspension will be for six months.

For most people, the thought of losing their driver’s licence is worrying. However if you rely on your driver’s licence for your employment or for some other reason, the idea of losing your driver’s licence will be terrifying.

Fortunately if you find yourself in this position, you may be eligible to apply for a special hardship order which will allow you to keep driving for certain purposes.

Read on to find out more about special hardship licences.

If a person is caught committing a high-speed driving offence (over 40km/hr) or accumulating too many demerit points while on a good driving behaviour period, he or she will face a mandatory suspension period.

For many people, the loss of their licence will cause them to suffer extreme financial hardship as they will lose their job.

A lot of people also rely on their driver’s licence for other reasons, such as caring for sick family members.

In these circumstances, a person can apply to a relevant court for a ‘special hardship order’. This allows the person to drive only for the purposes and only within the hours as ordered by the court. Unlike a restricted work licence, a special hardship order allows a person to drive for any purpose to prevent hardship to the applicant or his or her family, and not just for work purposes.

If you are granted a special hardship order, restrictions on your driving will apply. These are just some restrictions that will apply when driving on a special hardship order:

  • The Purpose – You will only be allowed to drive for the purposes permitted by the court. Whether you need your licence to go to work or to study, or for personal reasons such as illness and doctor visits, a restriction will apply limiting your ability to drive for any other purpose.
  • The Vehicle Class – Your vehicle class, make and model will also be a factor that could be restricted. You may therefore be prevented from driving vehicles that are not covered by the special hardship order.
  • The Days and Times – There may be specific days and times that you are restricted to when driving on a special hardship order. This will be determined by the magistrate according to your needs.
  • The SHO – You must only drive if you carry a copy of your special hardship order with you at all times.

An application for a special hardship order must be lodged within 21 days of your driver’s licence being suspended. If you fail to comply with this strict time frame, you may lose your ability to apply for a special hardship licence.

There are a number of steps involved when applying for a special hardship order.

The steps involved include:

  1. Completing a special hardship order application form and supporting material and lodging it all in the correct courthouse and within the relevant time frame;
  2. Paying a filing fee when lodging the application;
  3. Serving a copy of the application and supporting material on the Department of Transport;
  4. Appearing in court for the hearing of the application; and
  5. If the application is successful, applying for a new licence from the Department of Transport.

Not everyone can apply for a special hardship order, as there are a number of preconditions that must first be satisfied. Some of these include:


  • You must be the holder of a provisional or open driver’s licence; and
  • Your driver’s licence must not have been suspended or disqualified in the last 5 years (some exceptions apply).


  • Even if you satisfy the preconditions, you need to convince the court that you are a fit and proper person to hold a special hardship order licence and that you will suffer extreme hardship if your application is refused.


  • An application for a special hardship order can be extremely technical and if you are unsuccessful, you are not given any more opportunities to apply for a special hardship order. It is imperative that the correct paperwork is filled out to successfully receive a special hardship order. It is therefore extremely important that you seek legal advice about whether you are eligible for a special hardship licence.

If you are eligible for the special hardship order application, our lawyers are more than happy to help you through the process to get driving again sooner.

Q: What will happen if my application is unsuccessful?

A: If your application is unsuccessful, there will be no other opportunity for you to apply and your licence will be suspended. You will only have one opportunity to apply for a special hardship order. Therefore if your application is unsuccessful, you will be charged with unlicensed driving if you are caught driving while suspended.

Q: Should I get a lawyer to represent me for a special hardship order application?

A: We highly recommend using a lawyer to assist with this application. As there is only one chance to apply for the special hardship order, if you do it yourself and are unsuccessful, the consequences can be serious. When you have an experienced traffic lawyer helping with the application, they can help prepare any relevant material that is needed and successfully convince the magistrate to grant the application in your favour.

We know exactly what needs to be done to apply for a special hardship order successfully. We have successfully applied for special hardship licences hundreds of times so you can trust us to guide you through the process and give you the result you need.

We know how to prepare the necessary documents (including affidavits), how to speak persuasively with the magistrate and how to make sure there are no unwelcome ‘surprises’ when you get to court. In short, we know how to get you a special hardship order.

If you would like to discuss special hardship orders in more detail, or any other traffic or criminal matter, please contact us for a no-obligation discussion.

Let Harper Finch Lawyers Help You Apply for a Special Hardship Order

With one of our traffic lawyers by your side, you know you are in good hands.

Backed by extensive experience in traffic law and impeccable client communication, we are the right choice to help you with your special hardship order application.

If you are facing a licence suspension and you want to continue driving, call us now on 3112 5232, send us an email at contact@harperfinch.com.au or send us an enquiry via our contact page.