Driving Whilst Unlicensed


Driving whilst unlicensed is a serious offence that can lead to the disqualification of your driver’s licence. Many people in the community do not appreciate how harshly courts can deal with repeat offenders. Where a person has continually ignored court orders and repeatedly offended, most magistrates will sentence that person to a term of imprisonment.

In order to be convicted of this offence, the police will need to prove beyond reason able doubt:

  1. You drove a motor vehicle; and
  2. You were unlicensed.


Honest and reasonable mistake of fact is a defence to a charge of driving while unlicensed. The defence will be enlivened where you had an honest and reasonable belief in a state of affairs which, if they existed, would make your act an innocent one.

Other defences to Driving whilst suspended/disqualified include:

  • Duress
  • Necessity

Penalties for Driving while unlicensed

The maximum penalties for driving unlicensed vary depending upon whether you have ever held a licence. The penalty for driving unlicensed where you have previously been licenced is a fine of $2,200.00.

For a second offence, if you have never held a licence, the maximum penalty increases to a fine of $3,300 and/or 18 months imprisonment and a mandatory licence disqualification of 3 years. You will be held to have never held a licence if you have not held a driver licence (or equivalent) of any kind in Australia for the period of at least 5 years immediately before the commission of the offence.

Where you are charged with this offence, a court cannot decline to record a disqualification or impose a disqualification less than the mandatory period unless your matter is dealt with by way of section 10 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act.

Depending on the circumstances of your offending and the number of times you have committed this offence, the court may deal with this offence by way of section 10 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act, meaning no conviction will be recorded, there is no other penalty (including no disqualification) and you will have no criminal record. To find out more about a section 10, click here.

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