The Implications for Driving Without a Licence or Driving on a Recently Expired Driver Licence

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What happens if you drive without a licence? Well under Queensland law this may carry a number of penalties.

A person needs to hold a legally valid drivers licence in order to drive a motor vehicle and it is an offence to drive without one under the Transport Operations (Road Use Management) Act 1995 (Qld).

This also means that if your driver’s licence has recently expired and you are caught by police driving a vehicle you may also be subject to an infringement notice under the State Penalties Enforcement Act 1999.

As a driver, it is important to know what your rights and obligations are by law.  If you have been convicted of driving without a licence or are driving on a recently expired licence, you should consider the penalties you will be subjected to if you are faced with this situation, and if you are in a similar situation, it is important that you seek legal advice.

Penalty for driving without a licence

The maximum penalty for driving without a licence under the Transport Operations (Road Use Management) Act is 60 penalty units or 18 months imprisonment, or alternatively 40 penalty units and 1 year’s imprisonment.

Alternatively, an infringement notice may be substituted but only if:

  • The person has not been convicted of driving without a licence in the preceding 5 years; and
  • The person has not had their driver licence disqualified in the previous 2 years for drink driving; and
  • The person has been the holder of a valid driver’s licence previously.

The person must also not be:

  • An interlock driver whose driver licence was not granted after a disqualification period for drink driving;
  • An interlock driver who did not hold a valid Queensland driver’s licence (or had it expire over 4 weeks ago) at the time of the offence and the person’s interlock period has not ended.

What the court takes into account

The court will have to consider a few things when deciding on what penalty to impose. This is if you have been convicted of driving without a valid licence and you are a disqualified driver or have repeatedly driven without a licence. These will include:

  1. The circumstances of the case including circumstances of aggravation and mitigation;
  2. The public interest;
  3. If you have a criminal history and traffic history;
  4. Any information given to the court relating to your medical history, mental or physical impairment or physical capacity that is deemed relevant;
  5. If the offence was committed in the prosecution or attempted prosecution of another offence and what the nature of the offence is;
  6. Any matters the court considers relevant.

In a number of circumstances, the court must automatically disqualify a person from driving such as if the person was suspended from driving due to a loss of demerit points, or if the person drove without a licence which had been suspended because of an offence against the Queensland Road Rules, section 20 – Obeying the speed limit.

Driving on a Recently Expired Licence

A recently expired driver licence may be a licence which expired less than a year before the offence was committed.

It could also be a licence which was withdrawn less than 1 year previously because the holder of that licence was deemed to have a mental or physical incapacity which rendered them unsafe to drive a car.

Permit to drive – recently expired driver licence

If you have been charged with driving on a recently expired driver licence, a police officer may grant you a permit authorizing you to drive to a stated place to safely store your vehicle.

It is important to note that the permit must:

  1. Be in an approved form; and
  2. State the number of the infringement notice; and
  3. State the term, not longer than 24 hours, for which it is issued; and
  4. State the conditions, if any, on which it is issued.

Been caught driving without a valid licence? Seek legal advice

There are serious ramifications if you are being charged with driving without a licence. This is the same if you are driving on a recently expired driver’s licence. If you unsure of your legal rights and options you should speak to an experienced Brisbane Traffic lawyer. If you would like to make an appointment to discuss your situation, please call us on 07 3252 0011.