Obtain Licence by Deception
It is an offence under section 49 of the Road Transport Act 2013 to obtain or renew a driver’s licence by a false statement, misrepresentation or dishonest means. It is also an offence to possess a driver’s licence obtained by those means.
What is a Misrepresentation?
This section is extremely broad in the sense that it refers to any misrepresentation, with no requirement that the misrepresentation be material, intended to deceive or involve the misappropriation of the name of another person.
Examples of possible misrepresentations include:-
- A fake name;
- An incorrect address;
- The wrong date of birth, for example, to avoid certain age requirements contained in the licensing legislation.
What are the Penalties?
The maximum penalty if you are convicted of an offence under section 49 of the Road Transport Act 2013 is a fine of 20 penalty units.
Will I Lose my Licence?
As stated in section 49(2), if your driver’s licence has been obtained by way of a false statement, misrepresentation or dishonest means, it is immediately void. That means that it is not a valid NSW licence, and not a lawful authority to drive. This would be the case even if the person has otherwise passed all other regulatory requirements (such as driver competency tests) and even if they are not aware that their licence is void and of no effect. If you continue to drive with that driver’s licence, you could be subject to further charges, such as ‘drive whilst unlicenced’ or ‘drive whilst never licenced.’
Could I be Subject to Other Charges?
Whilst an offence under section 22 is punishable by way of a monetary fine only, it is possible that a person who obtains a licence by false declaration may be subject to prosecution under the fraud provisions in the Crimes Act 1900, which carry maximum penalties of lengthy terms of imprisonment. This was the approach adopted by the prosecution (and accepted by the Court) in Clarkson v R  NSWCCA 70.
In Clarkson, the Defendant sought to argue that it was not an offence to apply for a licence using a name that is an alias. He had filled out the licence application forms using four different names and provided false birth certificates in support of each application. The Court found that an offence could be committed under the Crimes Act in relation to fraudulently obtaining a driver licence if three key elements were met:
- That the accused person pretended to be another person
- That the accused person had done so with the intent to obtain ‘property’ in the form of a driver licence
- That the actions of the accused were carried out with an intention to commit fraud
- In considering any identity-related fraud offence, it should be noted that the mere use of an alias (including a name that has not been registered with the Registrar of Births Deaths and Marriages) will not necessarily amount to criminal conduct. As the Administrative Appeals Tribunal has noted: ‘Speaking generally, the law of this country allows any person to assume any name, provided its use is not calculated to deceive and to inflict pecuniary loss.
At the time that Clarkson was prosecuted, the offence of ‘obtain licence by false declaration’ was contained in section 22 of the now repealed Road Transport (Driver Licensing) Ac 1998. The wording of the old section 22 and the current offence under section 49 of the Road Transport Act 2013 are identical. There is no reason why prosecuting authorities would not be able to take the same approach as they did in Clarkson for an offence under section 49.
WHERE TO NEXT?
In NSW, traffic offences are treated seriously. Therefore, it is important to get competent legal advice as early as possible, whether you have received a penalty notice, had your licence suspended or been charged with a serious offence. Our lawyers are highly experienced and understand the difficulties you face without a licence. We can guide you through the process while dealing with the various authorities related to your matter.