Truckie gets 'justice' for licence disqualification

Truck driver who had licence disqualified takes on police and magistrate to get it back

By Brad Gardner | March 30, 2010

A truck driver who had his licence disqualified for drug possession has taken on the legal system and won.

Steven Tod Phillips was last year stripped of his licence for six months for being caught with a small amount of methylamphetamine while driving his prime mover.

But the District Court of Queensland overturned the ruling because Phillips was not using the drug while driving.

"In my view…the learned magistrate did not have the power to disqualify the appellant’s licence because the offence was not ‘in connection with, or arising out of, the driving of a motor vehicle’. The appeal must therefore succeed on this ground," Judge Ian Deardon says.

Deardon was also critical of the process in the original case because Phillips was denied the chance to respond to arguments he should be taken off the road.

"I should note the judicial officer considering imposing a disqualification in such circumstances should, at a minimum, request specific submissions on the issue, and the failure to do so amounted to a clear breach of the rule of natural justice," he says.

"A disqualification, particularly for a professional driver, is a catastrophic outcome…"

Deardon says Phillips should also have been given the opportunity to adjourn the case because it would have given him or his legal counsel time to submit arguments that disqualification was beyond the magistrate’s power.

Phillips did not appeal the $750 fine that was issued by the magistrate for one charge of possession of dangerous drugs.

The driver told the court he sometimes used amphetamines to stay awake.

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