Drive While Disqualified (Qld)
It is an offence under section 78 of the Transport Operations (Road Use Management) Act 1995 to drive without a valid driver’s licence authorising the person to drive on the road.
To be found guilty of an offence under this section, the police must prove beyond reasonable doubt that you:
- drove a motor vehicle on a road;
- you were disqualified from holding or obtaining a licence;
- your right to drive in QLD was suspended; or
- you never held a licence.
An offence is committed under this section regardless of whether you were disqualified from obtaining a licence by a court or by the Department of Transport and Main Roads.
Penalties for the offence of driving unlicensed will depend on the reason for being disqualified, suspended or unlicensed.
If you are convicted of the offence, the court will be required to impose a mandatory disqualification period per Section 78(3) of the Act. The Act also allows the court to impose a fine and a term of imprisonment at its discretion. The table below sets out the mandatory disqualification periods, and maximum fines and terms of imprisonment available.
|Reason for Disqualification||Disqualification Periods||Maximum Fine||Maximum Imprisonment|
|Disqualified by the courts from holding or obtaining a licence||2 – 5 years||60 penalty units||18 months|
|Disqualified from holding or obtaining a licence in QLD due to allocation of demerit points||6 months||40 penalty units||12 months|
|Right to drive in QLD on a non-QLD licence suspended due to allocation of demerit points||6 months||40 penalty units||12 months|
|Disqualified for driving more than 40km over the speed limit (on either a QLD or non-QLD licence)||6 months||40 penalty units||12 months|
|Suspended for non-payment of fines||1 – 6 months||40 penalty units||12 months|
|Repeat unlicensed driver||1 – 6 months||40 penalty units||12 months|
|Licence or right to drive immediately suspended under section s79B of the Transport Operations (Road Use Management) Act||2 – 5 years||40 penalty units||12 months|
|Never held a licence||3 months||40 penalty units||12 months|
What The Court Will Take Into Account
Section 78(2)(f) states that the court, in issuing a penalty for an offence under this section can take into account any matter “that the court considers relevant”. This gives the court a wide scope in a sentencing hearing but this subsection also specifies other matters for the court’s consideration. These are:
- all the circumstances of the case, including aggravating and mitigating circumstances;
- the public interest;
- the person’s criminal and traffic history;
- the person’s medical history, and mental or physical capacity; and
- if this offence was committed in association with the commission of another offence.
The most common defence for an offence under this section is the defence of honest and reasonable mistake. You must be able to give evidence that you were unaware at the time of driving that you were disqualified, suspended or unlicensed. In order to raise this defence successfully however, you need to prove that your belief that you held a valid driver’s licence was both honest and reasonably held.
Whilst it is normally easy to prove that you were not notified by the Department of Transport and Main Roads that your licence was disqualified or suspended, it is more difficult to show that your belief was a reasonable one. For example, knowing that you had a court date or that you had a number of traffic infringements may show that your belief was not a reasonable one.
Which Court Will Hear My Matter?
A charge of disqualified driving will be heard in the Magistrates Court.
If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal