For Australians, the ability to drive legally is essential. A valid driving licence allows us to get to work and school, to get groceries, to get to the doctor, and to places of worship. In rural Queensland, the ability to drive without running afoul of the law provides a vital link between neighbours. But the bottom line is that driving is a privilege, not a right. This is why driving while your licence is suspended or disqualified is so serious. Here’s what you should know about these offences.
Driving on a suspended licence in Queensland
Under the Transport Operations (Road Use Management) Act 1995, it is illegal to drive on a public road in Queensland without a valid driver’s licence. This means you can be punished if police catch you driving on a public road while your licence to operate a motor vehicle is suspended or expired. To be convicted of driving on a suspended licence, there must be sufficient proof that:
- you were driving a motor vehicle on a public road; and
- you did not hold a valid driver’s licence; and
- you did not hold a valid driver’s licence in Queensland because it was suspended.
If you are convicted, the extent of your punishment will depend on your specific circumstances, including any mitigating or aggravating factors.
Driving whilst disqualified in Queensland
Aside from sending someone to jail or prison, disqualification is one of the harshest punishments a Queensland judge or magistrate can impose for certain traffic offences. When someone’s licence is ‘disqualified’, it is confiscated and their driving privileges are revoked for a specified period. In such cases, they must apply for a new licence once that time has elapsed.
To be clear, you cannot drive once your driver’s licence is disqualified. One exception to this is if you qualify for and obtain a restricted driver’s licence (ie: for work-related purposes). If you don’t have one and the police catch you driving on a public road, they can charge you with driving whilst disqualified.
Again, the penalties that may be imposed upon conviction will depend on the specific circumstances of your case. Mitigating and aggravating factors will be considered.
Penalties for driving on a suspended licence and driving whilst disqualified
In Queensland, someone convicted of driving on a suspended licence faces the same penalties as someone convicted of driving without a valid licence. If this was your first offence, you could end up paying a $4,400 fine and spending up to a year in jail.
However, you should be aware that you may be able to avoid going to jail if you haven’t committed a similar offence within the last five years. This is because police have some discretion in these circumstances. Specifically, they can issue a maximum fine of $4,400 if they so choose.
On the other hand, Magistrates Courts, which usually hear these matters, don’t have any leeway regarding disqualifications. If you are found guilty of driving while your licence is suspended, your licence will be confiscated for a maximum of six months. It does not matter if you have received any other punishment in connection with the offence.
Because the offence is so serious, the penalties for driving whilst disqualified tend to be severe. At the very least, your driver’s licence will be confiscated for two to five years. You may also end up paying hefty fines and going to jail for up to 18 months.
You need experienced Queensland criminal lawyers to fight for you
If you have been charged with driving on a suspended licence or driving whilst disqualified in Queensland, you need a qualified lawyer on your side. Our criminal law team can quickly assess your situation and devise an effective defence. Depending on your specific circumstances, we may argue that:
- you actually had a valid licence at the time of the offence;
- you were not driving on a public road as defined by law at the time of the offence;
- you were suspended from driving on valid grounds and/or there is a dispute as to the validity of your licence;
- you had to drive because you were being threatened with violence or you were otherwise under significant duress;
- you had to drive because of an extreme emergency (a matter of life and death) or a similar situation.
With your livelihood and your freedom at stake, there is no time to waste. Contact our criminal lawyers Brisbane to learn more about how we can help you today.