Shortly after your accident your driver’s license will be suspended. If you are assessed by your doctor and occupational therapist as fit to drive with hand controls you will be issued with a Learner’s Permit. The Learner’s Permit allows you to undertake driving lessons in a suitably modified vehicle. You will then have to pass a practical driving assessment before your license will be reissued.
Medical Assessment of Fitness to Drive
If you are not assessed for fitness to drive whilst in Fiona Stanley Hospital, you can be referred later by a doctor or other health professional for an occupational therapy driver assessment (http://ilc.com.au/pages/occupational-therapy-driver-assessment). This assessment also includes a practical driving trial with a driving instructor.
Driving lessons are available from:
Independent Living Centre (ILC) Occupational Therapy Driver Assessment (http://ilc.com.au/ilc-occupational-therapy-driver-assessment-otda/). ILC Occupational Therapy Driver Assessment Service have also expanded its services to provide regular assessments in Bunbury and Northam.
Driving Occupational Therapy Services (http://www.drivingotservices.com/)
DriverRehab WA is a registered NDIS service provider and is coordinated by two qualified occupational therapy driver assessors. The occupational therapy driver assessors assess fitness to drive, prescribe vehicle modifications and monitor driving lessons for first time and experienced drivers through working with driving instructors experienced in rehabilitation. (http://driverrehab.com.au/drv/home/home/)
When you have had some practice driving with hand controls you can book your practical driving assessment through licensing services (http://www.transport.wa.gov.au/licensing). When you have passed your driving test you will be reissued with a driver’s license.
Purchasing a Vehicle
Concessions for Vehicles with Wheelchair Hoist/Ramp
Owners of vehicles that are fitted with a wheelchair hoist or ramp that is used primarily for the transport of a person who requires a wheelchair are eligible
- Concession rate: 100%
- Concession available: Exemption from the payment of vehicle licence fee or vehicle licence duty on purchase of a vehicle
You must apply for a Vehicle Modification Permit at a Driver and Vehicle Services vehicle examination centre and this must be approved by vehicle examiners (http://www.transport.wa.gov.au/licensing/modify-a-vehicle-for-special-needs.asp).
GST Exemption for Purchase of New Vehicles
People with disabilities who are gainfully employed are entitled to GST free new cars or parts for their current vehicle if they have lost the use of one or more limbs to such an extent that they are unable to use public transport under section 38-510 of A New Tax System (Goods and Services) Act 1999. The person with a disability (disabled driver or disabled passenger) must be a holder of a current Disability Certificate (available through Health Services Australia telephone 1300 361 046) and must fill out and submit the form ‘Declaration to the Commissioner of Taxation Goods and Services Tax – Disabled Person Gainfully Employed (available here).
Exemption from GST for modification of a vehicle to hand controls is also available. Contact ATO (Australian Taxation Office) for details of procedure. (N.B. Most hand controls do not have GST). Parts for second hand cars being used to travel to and from work are also GST exempt.
The following conditions apply:
- Vehicle needs to be used to travel to/from gainful employment (includes students receiving TEAS or Austudy).
- Person can buy a vehicle only once every two years
- Persons receiving a mobility allowance are not eligible.
Selecting a Suitable Vehicle
Before purchasing a vehicle check with the company who will do your modifications that the vehicle is suitable. Some cars need extensive parts of the lower dashboard removed to fit hand controls and you need to be sure that you will be happy with the finished appearance. For more extensive modifications eg lifts/ramps it is important to check that the vehicle can be suitably modified before purchase. The Independent Living Centre has published a guide on points to consider when choosing a vehicle for modification (http://ilc.com.au/equipment-details.php?id=2572).
For information about hand controls and modified driving controls’ (for hand controls) or ‘Vehicles’ and ‘Driving Control Modifications’ (for ramps and drive in vehicles), go to the Independent Living Centre website (http://ilc.com.au) and search NED the ILC Australia National Equipment Database (http://ilcaustralia.org.au/search_category_paths).