What is the Difference Between Unlicensed Driving and Disqualified Driving?

In general terms, the main difference between Unlicensed Driving and Disqualified Driving is the maximum penalties that apply and the mandatory minimum periods the court must disqualify your licence. Driving while subject to a disqualification order by the court (Disqualified Driving) is a more serious offence which is reflected in the penalties imposed by the court.

What Is Unlicensed Driving?

In Queensland, it is an offence to operate and drive a motor vehicle on the road without having a valid drivers licence. There are a few types of situations in which a person can be charged with unlicensed drive, for example:

  • Your licence had expired and you forgot to renew it before driving
  • Your license has been suspended by the State Penalties Enforcement Registry (SPER) for failing to maintain payments on a that debt.
  • Your licence has been suspended through the allocation of demerit points
  • Your licence was suspended when you were charged with drink driving, failing to provide a specimen of breath or dangerous operation of a motor vehicle while adversely affected by an intoxicating substance
  • You never held a valid drivers licence

Penalty For Unlicensed Driving

The penalty for Unlicensed Driving varies depending on the reason you were unlicensed.  For example, if you are charged with Unlicensed Driving with no other circumstances alleged about the reason you were unlicensed, the maximum penalty is a fine of up to 40 penalty units or imprisonment for up to one year.

The Magistrate does also have discretion to disqualify your licence but there is no mandatory requirement for them to do so.

However, if you have been charged with any of the following circumstances of aggravation for Unlicensed Driving, the court must disqualify your licence as follows:

  • Allocation of demerit points – 6 months
  • Suspended by SPER – at least 1 month but not more than 6 months
  • Repeat unlicensed driver – at least 1 month but not more than 6 months
  • Licence was immediately suspended due to being charged with drink driving – at least 2 years but not more than 5 years
  • Never held a drivers licence – 3 months

What Is Disqualified Driving?

You will be charged with Disqualified Driving if you drive a motor vehicle during the period your licence was disqualified by the court. For example, if you appeared in the Magistrates Courts for drink driving and were disqualified for 3 months then drive during that 3 month period. The offence of Disqualified Driving is deemed to be more serious than an Unlicensed Driving offence because you are in breach of a court order at the time you drove. It is the leading traffic offence in Queensland that results in imprisonment being imposed. It is common to be sentenced to imprisonment to serve actual time in custody if convicted of Disqualified Driving three times in a five year period.

Penalty For Disqualified Driving

If you have been convicted of disqualified driving, the court must disqualify you from holding a driver licence for a period of between 2 and 5 years. In addition, you may also receive a fine of up to 60 penalty units (more than $8,200) or imprisonment up to 18 months.

This post contains general advice only and is not intended as legal advice