Have You Been Charged with Driving Suspended or driving whilst disqualified in Melbourne, Geelong or Ballarat?
If so we have offices located in Melbourne, Ringwood, Moorabbin, Frankston, Dandenong, Geelong, Ballarat and Werribee with specialist traffic offence lawyers available to assist you. Our lawyers go to court everyday representing clients charged with driving whilst suspended charges amongst other traffic offences.
What is the difference between driving suspended and driving disqualified?
If you have been charged with driving whilst disqualified or driving whilst suspended you are effectively facing the same charge (Section 30(1) of the Road Safety Act 1986), however there are some differences.
Driving whilst suspended often relates to driving during a demerit points suspension. The suspension is often initiated by VicRoads, whereby VicRoads will send the driver a letter alerting them to the fact that their points have been exceeded and a suspension is pending. Someone who has had their drivers licence suspended will usually automatically get their licence back at the conclusion of the suspended period.
Driving whilst disqualified usually relates to a situation where an offender has previously been disqualified by the Courts for drink driving, drug driving, dangerous driving or culpable driving and is caught driving. Driving after a judicial officer has told you not to drive is considered to be a more serious offence because it is a situation where a Magistrate or Judge has imposed the disqualification period and told the person not to drive.
When hearing a matter, Magistrates’ and Judges are always more concerned when a citizen has failed to obey the direction of a Court as opposed to a letter received in the post.
A person who has had their licence disqualified will usually need to apply to the relevant authority to have their drivers licence returned, either by attending a court or attending Vicroads.
I was caught driving Whilst Suspended; do I have to plead guilty?
This is a question that can only be answered after seeking advice from a traffic solicitor that specialises in driving whilst suspended or driving whilst disqualified cases. In the right circumstances it is not unusual for our lawyers to get these charges withdrawn. It is all about considering the finer nuances of your case. The most common defence in relation to driving whilst suspended and driving whilst disqualified is that of honest and reasonable mistake.
There are two elements to this defence, establishing that you had a mistaken belief in relation to the status of your licence and establishing that your belief was a reasonable one.
The question of reasonableness is a question that can only be answered after speaking to an experienced legal practitioner who routinely handles these types of cases.
What are the penalties?
Maximum penalty – 2 years imprisonment or 240 Penalty units or both.
Prior to 1 November 2018 first time offenders could only receive up to 4 months imprisonment and a 30 penalty unit fine and on a second offence up to 2 years imprisonment and a 240 penalty unit fine. After 1 November 2018 following the introduction of the Transport Legislation Amendment (Road Safety, Rail and Other Matters) Act 2017 No. 68 of 2017 at s46, the reference to first time offenders was removed, so now the maximum penalty for first time offenders is the same as it is for second and subsequent offenders, which is 2 years imprisonment or a 240 penalty unit fine or both.
There are other sentencing options open to the court other than a fine, such as a good behaviour bond or a community corrections order. Follow the link to see all sentencing options open to the court.
It is unusual for an offender to receive the maximum sentence when attending Court. To give yourself the best opportunity you should engage lawyers that handle these types of matters all the time.
Can I avoid a conviction for drive while suspended charges?
The question of whether a magistrate will convict you in relation to your case is always an important one to consider, particularly with the introduction of the spent conviction legislation. You can follow this link to read more about how to avoid a conviction in the magistrates court in Victoria. A lot of the time our clients are not overly concerned with the question of conviction and are more concerned with how to avoid doing anymore time off the road, but nevertheless we will always fight to avoid a conviction for our clients.
Will I lose my licence?
There are many factors that influence whether a Magistrate will interfere with your driver’s licence on a plea of guilty to driving whilst suspended or disqualified. What is important to note is that it is discretionary, unlike many other driving offences in Victoria, a Magistrate is not bound by law to take your driver’s licence for a further period. That doesn’t mean that they won’t and there is no limit to the length of further suspension that can be imposed.
Do I need a lawyer?
Absolutely! You could get lucky and navigate the turbulent rapids of the magistrates court on your own, but you could also get very unlucky and be taken off the road, put in gaol or both. When you engage our services in relation to these matters we consider all aspects of your case – why you were on the road, your personal circumstances and any other factors that might tip a magistrate’s discretion in your favour. We understand that retaining your driver’s licence might mean that you can keep your job or it might mean that your family will be able to keep their house. There can be a myriad of reasons why you, as a client need to keep your driver’s licence and that is why it is so important to engage experienced traffic lawyers to represent you at court.
Will I have to speak at Court?
If you are pleading guilty the simple answer is no, when you engage a lawyer you are engaging someone to speak on your behalf at Court.
The final factor to consider is whether police will apply to further impound or forfeit your vehicle. If you plead guilty the police might make an application to further impound or forfeit your motor vehicle, depending on how many prior offences you have. See our information on vehicle impoundment here.
At Dribbin & Brown Traffic Lawyers we understand the critical factor for any defendant facing a driving whilst suspended charge is avoiding gaol and avoiding further licence loss. Losing your driver’s licence impacts your ability to support family, interact socially and earn money.
So in considering that proposition you should always ask yourself how much it will cost you if you lose your driver’s licence for months, or even years. Most likely it will be far more than it will cost to retain a competent traffic lawyer to represent you at Court.
The importance of having a qualified, experienced, specialist lawyer on your side in relation to a driving whilst suspended charge when you attend Court cannot be overstated. Don’t leave your Court outcome to chance, call our office today.