Unlicensed Driving

As driving continuously becomes a common skill, the ability to drive in Australia is no longer a want but a need. No matter where you drive in Australia, you are required to have a valid licence in order to drive on the road.

According to the Transport Operations (Road Use Management) Act 1995 (Qld), driving without an appropriate licence constitutes a traffic offence.

We recommend that you seek legal advice as soon as possible if you have been charged with unlicensed driving.

What constitutes driving without a licence?

People may be charged with unlicensed driving due to various reasons.

The typical circumstances include:

  • You have never had a driver licence
  • Your driver licence expired and you forgot to renew the licence
  • You are holding an inappropriate class of licence (For example, you are driving a motorcycle without a valid motorcycle licence, you are holding a Learner’s licence and you drove without the supervision of an open licence driver)
  • You are medically unfit to drive
  • Your driver licence has been suspended or disqualified

When would my driver licence be suspended?

Your driver licence may be suspended if you:

  • Failed to pay a SPER fine
  • have exceeded your demerit point limit
  • have exceeded a speed limit of more than 40km/hour

If you drive a motor vehicle in Queensland while your licence is suspended due to the above reasons, you will be dealt with by a Court for unlicensed driving.

If you are convicted of unlicensed driving, the Court must disqualify you from holding a driver licence for a minimum of 1 month period or a maximum of 6 months period. The Court may also impose a fine or imprisonment on you.

When would my driver licence be disqualified?

Your driver’s licence may be disqualified if you are convicted in one of the following offences:

  • Drink driving or drug driving
  • Dangerous driving
  • A criminal offence involving the driving or using of a motor vehicle

If you drive a motor vehicle in Queensland when your driver licence is disqualified, you will be charged with disqualified driving.

Once convicted of disqualified driving, your driver’s licence will be disqualified from a minimum of 2 years to a maximum 5 years period. You may also receive a fine or imprisonment.

What are the penalties for driving without a licence?

Generally, unlicensed driving may attract a penalty or licence disqualification. The court will consider the seriousness of the circumstances when deciding the penalty.

Please refer to the following table:

OffenceCircumstancesMandatory licence disqualificationMaximum Penalty
Unlicensed drivingFirst time offender with no history of licence disqualification or suspensionDisqualification is not mandatory.40 penalty units or 1 year imprisonment
Never held a driver licence3 months40 penalty units or 1 year imprisonment
Demerit points suspension6 months40 penalty units or 1 year imprisonment
High speed (exceed speed limit by more than 40 km/h) suspension6 months40 penalty units or 1 year imprisonment
SPER Suspension1 – 6 months40 penalty units or 1 year imprisonment
Prior conviction of unlicensed driving in the past 5 years1 – 6 months40 penalty units or 1 year imprisonment
Disqualified drivingDisqualified by court order2 – 5 years60 penalty units or 1 year imprisonment
Disqualified due to drink driving under s79B2 – 5 years40 penalty units or 1 year imprisonment

Please note the following:

  • Since 1st July 2019, 1 penalty unit = $133. This price is subject to changes on a yearly basis
  • The maximum penalties will only be imposed on the most serious offenders. The court will take into account a number of factors when imposing the penalty

Do I need to hire a lawyer?

Losing your driver licence can be troublesome as it may affect your daily routine and work. If you are currently facing a charge, please do not hesitate to seek professional legal advice from our experienced traffic lawyers.

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