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Home Resources & Technical Articles Criminal Offence Topics (A to Z) Driving Whilst Suspended Offences Driving Whilst Suspended Offences and Penalties in Queensland (QLD)

Driving Whilst Suspended Offences and Penalties in Queensland (QLD)

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Australian National Character Check (ANCC) makes every effort to provide updated and accurate information to its customers. However due to the continuously changing nature of legislations for the Commonwealth and various States and Territories, it is inevitable that some information may not be up to date. The information on the website is general information only. The contents on the website do not constitute legal or professional advice and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal or professional advice. While we endeavour to keep the information up to date and correct, we make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, suitability, accuracy or availability with respect to the information.


The most basic and lawful thing to do while driving is to ensure that you have a legal and valid licence behind the wheel. It is an offence in Queensland and other Australian States or Territories to drive a vehicle without a valid licence.

Most legislations stipulate severe penalties for driving a vehicle without a licence. It is considered one of the most notorious factors in many road accidents.

If an individual is convicted for a driving whilst suspended offence, the offence will show up as a disclosable court outcome (DCO) on a Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check.

What does Driving without a licence mean?

The legislation - Transport Operations (Road Use Management) Act 1995 (Qld) is the prominent legislation when handling Road Use and matters in Queensland. A person drives without a valid Driver licence in any of these conditions;

  • The offender put their vehicle on a public road or attempted to enter a public road,
  • The offender did not hold a valid driver licence at the time of apprehension,
  • The offender is disqualified from driving through a court Order

Or did not hold a driver licence because;

  • They never had or registered for an Australian Driver licence, or
  • The alleged offender had their licence previously suspended, expired

The offence of Driving without a valid driver licence

Under section 78 of the Transport Operations (Road Use Management) Act 1995 (Qld), it is an offence for a person to operate a vehicle or assist/supervise another unless the person holds a driver's licence.

  • It is an offence that carries a penalty of up to 60 penalty units or 18 months imprisonment, or
  • 40 penalty units or 1-year imprisonment.

Penalties for Driving while suspended

Driving offences of this type are usually handled summarily before a Queensland Magistrate court unless there are aggravating matters. A person found guilty of driving while suspended or disqualified can face penalties up to;

  • $4,400 in fines, or
  • Imprisonment term not exceeding 1 year.

If a person has not had such a similar offence within the last 5 years, the Police has the discretion to issue infringements of;

  • $4,400 in fine amounts

Other similar offences

  1. Under section 78(3) of the Act, the Court can issue further disqualification periods for these offenders. For example, where a person commits the offence while any court order disqualifies them,
    • The court can further issue disqualification periods that must be between 2 and 5 years.

  1. If the person commits the offence while they were disqualified, and they were disqualified from holding such licences due to demerit points,
    • It is a further disqualification period of 6 months.

  1. Committed the offence while the person's authority to drive on a Queensland road, under a non-Queensland licenced driver that is suspended for demerit points
    • ✔ The person is further subject to demerit points reaching 6 months imprisonment.
    • ✔ 40 penalty units in fines
    • ✔ Up to 12 months imprisonment

  1. If the offence occurred while the person was disqualified from holding/obtaining a driver's licence because the person is convicted of crimes against Queensland Road Rules, it attracts a penalty of up to 6 months disqualification period;
    • ✔ Up to 40 penalty units in fine amounts
    • ✔ 12 months maximum imprisonment

  1. If the person committed the offence while their driver licence was suspended under the State Penalties Enforcement Act 1999 (Qld) or Transport Operations (Passenger Transport) Act 1994 (Qld), then a punishment of at least
    • ✔ 1 month, but lesser than 6 months usually decided by the court,
    • ✔ Up to 40 penalty units in fines
    • ✔ Up to 12 months imprisonment term

  1. If the person commits the offence as a subsequent punishment or a repeat offender, they are liable to penalties of;
    • ✔ Further disqualification of at least one month, but not more than 6 months imprisonments,
    • ✔ 40 penalty units in fine amounts,
    • ✔ Up to 12 months imprisonment term

Who is a repeat unlicensed Driver?

For this case, a person is unlicenced if they drive a vehicle without the required Driver licence or when the offence was committed and has been convicted of the offence in the last 5 years.

Possible Defences for Driving without a licence

If you are charged for driving without a licence, you should get a lawyer experienced in traffic laws. However, if you get off with a warning, you must avoid further traffic violations in future.

Some defences to such a charge may be;

  • ✔ Your licence was valid at that point
  • ✔ There was an issue regarding the authenticity of your licence
  • ✔ You were driving away from threats or violence
  • ✔ You were driving in an emergency.

Will a driving whilst suspended offence show up on a nationally coordinated criminal history check?

If an individual is found guilty of a driving unlicensed offence, the offence will show up as a disclosable court outcome (DCO) on the results of their police check.

Individuals can obtain a Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check online via the Australian National Character Check - ANCC® website.

Sources

Transport Operations (Road Use Management) Act 1995 (Qld) - https://www.legislation.qld.gov.au/view/html/inforce/current/act-1995-009

Transport Operations (Road Use Management) Act 1995 (Qld)(Austlii References) - http://www5.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/qld/consol_act/touma1995434/

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