What is the offence?
A person must not drive a motor vehicle on a road unless the person holds a driver license authorising the person to drive the vehicle on the road. Where a person’s drivers licence is:
- Suspended by the State Penalties Enforcement Register; or
- Suspended due to the accumulation of demerit points,
the police will allege the suspension as a circumstance of aggravation and the penalty, including licence disqualification will be increased.
What is the penalty?
|Allocation of demerit points||6 months;|
|Driving more than 40kmh over the limit||6 months;|
|SPER suspended||Min 1 mth not more than 6 mths|
|Repeat unlicensed driver||Min 1 mth not more than 6 mths|
The act imposes upon the person charged the onus to prove that they were at the relevant time the holder of a drivers license. This causes drivers problems in relation to lack of notice from either the Department of Transport or the State Penalties Enforcement Register as to the cancellation of their license.
Allocation of demerit points
Gatenby Criminal Lawyers has acted on behalf of a number of clients who have been intercepted whilst having their authority to drive suspended by an accumulation of demerit points.
A number of these offences have been relatively straightforward matters where the driver has made, for whatever reason a decision to drive. Others have however been complex matter where the clients have been unaware at the time of interception that their authority to drive on Queensland Roads has been cancelled. As shown above, they have then faced a mandatory disqualification of six months.
While these people have had an honest and reasonable but mistaken belief as to the status of their license, this has been held to be a mistake of law and accordingly is not a defence.
There have been a number of recent decisions, which have referred to the inherent unfairness to an accused person, and the undesirability of disqualification periods being imposed for offending of a technical nature. These authorities provide a precedent for an order that the offender is discharged absolutely and enliven discretion not to impose the mandatory disqualification.
We have recently secured an absolute discharge in relation to an apprentice carpenter who had not received his notification from Queensland Transport and was facing immediate dismissal if he had not received the benefit of our expertise. You should contact Gatenby Criminal Lawyers if you have been charged with an unlicensed driving offence where you have been unaware of the status of your license. In some limited circumstances, we are able to retain your license.
Driving while SPER suspended is similar in nature to that of Demerit Point suspension. Gatenby Criminal Lawyers has a number of clients who have not received any notice from the State Penalties Enforcement Register as to the cancellation of their license.
In limited circumstances, the argument can be made that the offending is technical in nature and there should be an order that the offender should be discharged absolutely.
Repeat unlicensed driver
A repeat unlicensed driver is a driver who is unlicensed at the time of driving and has been convicted previously in the last five years. Such a driver is the subject of a mandatory period of disqualification of between one and six months.
Gatenby Criminal Lawyers has achieved success in traffic matters and is available to provide advice as to expected penalty range and prospects of defending unlicensed driving charges.
Unlicensed driving attracts a maximum penalty of $4,000.00 or 12 months imprisonment and a minimum disqualification of 6 months in relation to driving while suspended.
In relation to failing to renew a licence the disqualification period is between one (1) and six (6) months.
What does the court take into account in sentencing?
There are a number of factors that the court will take into account when determining the appropriate penalty. These include:
- The reason for your driving at a time of the offence.
- Your previous traffic history.
- Was the unlicensed driving associated with the commission of another offence?
- Your personal circumstances.
- Any other circumstances the Court considers relevant.
If you have been charged with this offence, call Gatenby Criminal Law to speak with an experienced traffic lawyer and discuss your options.