What is a Special Hardship Order?

A ‘Special Hardship Order’ (SHO) is a court order which allows a person to drive for specified purposes only, and subject to strict conditions, during the period of a licence suspension. For many people, this licence is the difference between keeping and losing their jobs. 

A Special Hardship Order is not automatically granted. Firstly, you would need meet a number of different strict criteria, and secondly satisfy the presiding magistrate that you are suitable for a special hardship licence.

The courts have recently begun cracking down on the number of special hardship licences that are granted. However, the use of proper material and submissions, in a timely manner can certainly maximise your chances of attaining a hardship licence.

What must you prove?

A magistrate will ultimately decide whether the applicant deserves to hold a driver’s licence based on factors such as the seriousness and length of their traffic history, their employment history, their criminal history (if any) and so on. Applicants also need to prove that they will suffer some form of severe hardship if their application is refused.

An application needs to be submitted to a Magistrates Court District nearest to your residence and it must be submitted within 21 days after your licence was suspended. There is no flexibility in this regard – if you seek to file your application even one day late, it will be rejected.

You must also submit the following documents:

  • Affidavit;
  • Affidavit from your employer;
  • Statutory declaration or other essential documents for people applying for a SHO on the grounds of their education, health, and other special reasons;
  • Traffic violations history; and
  • Criminal history.

If you are successful, what happens?

If you are successful, the magistrate will make an order (the “Special Hardship Order”) directing that the transport department issue you with a “replacement licence” during the period of the suspension.  You will only be permitted to drive in accordance with the conditions imposed by the Magistrates Court.

The order will usually set out things such as:

  • the days of the week that you are permitted to drive;
  • the hours between which you are permitted to drive;
  • the purposes for which you are permitted to drive during the stated days and times;
  • whether you are permitted to carry passengers;
  • whether you are required to wear a work uniform when driving; and
  • whether you are required to carry a log book when driving.

If your application was unsuccessful, your license is suspended. You are not able to apply for a Special Hardship Order again. This is why it is crucial that you apply properly at first instance.

Conclusion

Applying for a Special Hardship Order is not an easy process. Many applicants are rejected simply because they fail to submit all the necessary documents or are not able to monitor the timeline of their application.

We highly recommend that you seek legal advice when it comes to Special Hardship Orders or other traffic law matters. This article is only meant to serve as a brief summary of the topic described and does not constitute legal advice.

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