NSW licence loss won’t apply while in jail

OFFENDERS jailed for driving offences in NSW now face an added sting from legislation which came into force on Friday.

Any driving ban applied by a magistrate or judge only comes into force when the offender leaves jail.

There have been several instances in recent years of drivers sentenced in Albury Local Court cutting out a large part of their disqualification periods while behind bars.

In the past, there have been instances in the Albury region of someone being jailed for periods varying from six to nine months for driving matters.

Disqualification periods ranging from 12 months to two years have been imposed.

But much of the ban has been served while someone sits behind bars and does not have access to a car.

The Road Transport (Licence Disqualification on Conviction) Act 2013 changes all that.

It says unless a court orders otherwise any licence disqualification period comes into effect after an offender’s release.

The new legislation has been welcomed by senior police.

But privately they believe it is another measure to deter repeat traffic offenders like disqualified drivers, road racers and people who do burnouts.

“The NSW government is committed to keeping the community safe and this legislation provides another tool in the armoury to protect it,” a spokeswoman for Attorney-General Brad Hazzard said.

“When someone is disqualified from driving and sentenced to a prison term for a major offence, it is entirely appropriate that they serve their disqualification period after being released.”

There was an exception in the District Court in Albury in 2010 to drivers serving a lot of their disqualification periods while in jail.

In that case, Judge Martin Blackmore sentenced Justin Blake Smith, 30, to a minimum term of six years’ jail.

Smith was travelling at excessive speed, was intoxicated, unlicensed and had previous drink-driving matters when he crashed his F100 truck in South Albury killing Amanda Bowen, 21.

His sentence was backdated to when he was remanded in custody in 2009.

Judge Blackmore said Smith was eligible for release on September 18 next year.

But he stipulated that Smith’s five-year driving ban applies only after his release.