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Victoria introduces new legislation to allow Police to disqualify Licences for persons convicted of any crime

New legislation came into effect in Victoria on 30 September, 2013 allowing Courts to suspend or cancel the licence of any person convicted of any criminal offence; regardless of whether that offence has any connection with driving a motor vehicle.

Acting Senior Sergeant Bowers from the Victorian Police Prosecution Division has been promoting the new police powers, claiming that the new laws are “a deterrent and a preventative measure. From our perspective, anything that has the potential to prevent further offending is a good thing”.

Most troubling to civil libertarians however, is the fact that the legislation is highly discretionary with no limits imposed on what kinds of cases it applies to. Jane Dixon, SC, the President of Liberty Victoria says that “to deprive someone of their driving licence can often also deprive them of their livelihood… there should be a strong foundation between driving and the offending”.

Victorian Police have encouraged Prosecutors to use the legislation in any case where the offending can be linked to using a motor vehicle, including cases of drug trafficking and family violence. Police estimate the new legislation could impact approximately 50,000 cases per annum.

Whilst highly discretionary, Prosecutors have already indicated that first-time offenders and those guilty of minor offences only will not be exempt from Applications under the new laws.

Further changes to Victorian laws are presently being considered which would require anyone who is disqualified from holding a driver’s licence to fit an alcohol interlock device in their vehicle when their licence is reinstated in circumstances where the original crime can be linked in any way to alcohol or drugs.

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