What is unlicensed driving?
Section 18 of the Road Safety Act 1986 states that a person should not drive a motor vehicle unless:
- The person holds a drivers licence or permit authorising the person to drive;
- The person holds a drivers licence or permit issued interstate or overseas; or
- The person is otherwise authorised by the regulations to drive.
Examples of unlicensed driving include:
(a) Driving without holding a valid drivers licence or permit;
(b) Driving in breach of an existing condition on your licence; or
(c) Driving whilst being a person who is exempt from driving are all examples of unlicensed driving.
What are the possible penalties for driving unlicensed?
Driving without a valid drivers licence can have serious ramifications. If found guilty, the court may direct you
- to pay a significant fine,
- serve a term of imprisonment and or
- disqualify and cancel an offenders licence for a longer period and/or make vehicle immobilisation orders.
The maximum penalty for unlicensed
- 60 penalty units or a term of imprisonment not exceeding 6 months.
- If the person has previously held a licence or permit but was unlicensed at the time of the commission of the offence (due to not having applied to be re-licensed), and the licence was not cancelled due to any driving offences, then the maximum penalty is one month imprisonment or 20 penalty units.
- If the person has previously had their driver’s licence cancelled or disqualified and that person has not applied to become re-licensed by the Court and is caught driving a motor vehicle, then the maximum penalty is 2 years imprisonment or 240 penalty units.
The court may also impose certain orders on your licence including an alcohol interlock condition or a vehicle immobilisation order which may include wheel clamping for up to 12 months. It is important to note that the court may make a vehicle immobilisation order irrespective of whether the vehicle is registered to your name or not.
Do I need a lawyer to represent me at court?
The penalties are dependent on which subsection you are charged under as described above, but first time offenders usually receive a fine and potentially some period of loss of licence. There is no mandatory minimum period that an offender must be taken off the road in relation to an unlicensed driving charge. As per section 28 of the Road Safety Act 1986, it is discretionary.
The factors that influence whether a magistrate exercises their discretion in your favour need to be discussed with an experienced traffic offences lawyer.
Dribbin & Brown regularly appear at the above Courts representing clients charged with unlicensed driving.
If you have been charged with unlicensed driving, call our office and speak to one of our specialist traffic lawyers – we handle these matters every day.