Thousands of South Australian motorists will suffer hardship as a result of a government computer error which caused licence disqualification notices to remain unprocessed, according to the Law Society of South Australia.
Earlier this month more than 4000 motorists were notified of prior driver's licence disqualifications which had remained unprocessed for two years due to an undetected computer malfunction. As a result of the error, more than 4000 offenders did not receive their formal disqualification notices in 2009 and a further 10,700 didn't receive demerit point warning notices.
"The drivers who haven't been notified of their penalties are those who applied to the courts between July 2009 and June 2010 seeking hardship relief and an extended period to pay their fines," explained Road Safety Minister Tom Kenyon on 5 August.
Highlighting the changed circumstances of a number of the offenders, President of the Law Society of South Australia Ralph Bönig called upon Kenyon to establish an administrative review process so that motorists who have been prejudiced by the delay can apply to have the notice waived.
"A large number of people affected now have significantly changed circumstances since the date when their disqualification would have taken place. The cost and expense of challenging the validity of the process will be beyond most people's means," said Bönig, noting that the Law Society does not condone breaches of law.
"What the Minister needs to do is recognise that in some cases there will be extreme hardship. An administrative process needs to be put in place so these people can appeal to the Minister and say, 'My circumstances have changed such that I'm now going to suffer extreme hardship because your system broke down and your computer never processed any of these notices'."