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Driving without a license

Driving Whilst Suspended or Disqualified

Great traffic lawyers can make the difference between keeping your licence or getting a long period of disqualification, or worse.

It is therefore important to get experienced lawyers with a proven track record in getting outstanding results in 'drive whilst unlicensed' cases.

Why our Traffic Lawyers?

Sydney Criminal Lawyers are experts in driving cases, including driving without a valid licence.

Our criminal lawyers have a comprehensive knowledge of the laws relating to these offences; including the defences of 'honest and reasonable mistake' and 'necessity'.

In fact, our traffic lawyers appear in these cases almost every day and have developed techniques to aggressively protect your licence, your reputation and your freedom; including methods of persuading Magistrates to exercise their discretion under 'section 10'.

Drive Whilst Suspended

Driving while suspended is driving a motor vehicle on a public road when your licence is suspended by the RTA or by Police.

This can occur after being issued with a notice for speeding by more than 30kp/h, after the accumulation of demerit points, after being issued with a Court Attendance Notice by Police (for charges such as mid or high range 'drink driving') or simply for non-payment of fines.

The penalties for 'drive whilst suspended' can be severe:

1st Offence for Drive Whilst Suspended

  • Criminal conviction
  • Maximum fine of $3,300.00
  • Unlimited maximum disqualification period, and
  • Mandatory disqualification of 12 months (or 3 months if suspended for non-payment of fines)

2nd or Subsequent 'Major Traffic Offence' within 5 years

If the offence occurred within 5 years of a conviction for any 'major traffic offence' (which is a driving offence for which you were convicted in court, including drive whilst suspended), the penalties are:

  • Criminal conviction
  • Maximum fine of $5,500.00
  • Unlimited maximum disqualification period, and
  • Mandatory disqualification of 2 years
Drive Whilst Cancelled

Driving while cancelled is driving a motor vehicle on a public road after your licence has been cancelled by the RTA.

The penalties are exactly the same as for driving whilst suspended.

Drive While Unlicenced

Driving while unlicensed is driving a motor vehicle on a public road without ever having held a valid NSW driver licence or when the licence was expired.

Driver Never Licenced

If you have never been licenced or if your licence expired more than 5 years before the offence, the penalties are as follows:

1st Offence for Driver Never Licenced

  • Criminal conviction, and
  • Maximum fine of $2,200.00

2nd or Subsequent 'Major Traffic Offence' within 5 years

  • Criminal conviction
  • Maximum fine of $3,300.00
  • Mandatory disqualification of 3 years, and
  • Maximum prison sentence of 18 months
Drive Whilst Disqualified

Driving whilst disqualified is driving a motor vehicle on a public road after your licence has been disqualified by a court.

It is an offence that is treated very seriously by the courts, as it is considered a flagrant disregard of a court order. The penalties are:

1st Offence for Drive Whilst Disqualified

If it is the first 'major traffic offence' in five years:

  • Criminal conviction
  • Maximum fine of $3,300.00
  • Unlimited maximum disqualification
  • Mandatory disqualification of 12 months, and
  • Maximum prison sentence of 18 months

2nd or Subsequent 'Major Traffic Offence' within 5 years

  • Criminal conviction
  • Maximum fine of $5,500.00
  • Unlimited maximum disqualification
  • Mandatory disqualification of 2 years, and
  • Maximum prison sentence of 2 years
How Can I Escape Penalty?

There are several ways to escape the extremely harsh consequences of being convicted for driving without a valid licence. Some of these are:

The defence of 'honest and reasonable mistake'

There are some cases where you will not have received the RTA Notice of Suspension or Cancellation and you therefore drive under the mistaken belief that you have a valid licence.

In these cases, the defence of 'honest and reasonable mistake of fact' may be available to you.

If it can be shown that you had an 'honest and reasonable mistake', you will be found 'not guilty' and the case against you will be dismissed.

However, it mus be proved that your mistake was both honest (ie that you did not receive the RTA letter) and reasonable (ie that you could not be expected to have known that your licence might be suspended or cancelled).

Typical examples of honest and reasonable mistakes are:

  • When you did not receive the RTA letter, and:
    • You were unaware of the suspension / cancellation because you had not yet received penalty notices for camera detected offence/s that (a) made you exceed your points, or (b) were for speeding over 30kph, or (c) breached a probationary licence, or (d) were for any other offence that caused the suspension / cancellation
    • You were unaware, and could not reasonably have been aware, of any outstanding fine/s
    • You changed address, notified the RTA within 14 days, did not receive the RTA letter of suspension / cancellation and can show that you made reasonable efforts to ascertain the date of suspension / cancellation without success

Typical examples of mistakes that are honest but not reasonable are:

  • you did not receive the RTA letter because you did not notify the RTA within 14 days of changing address, and the RTA therefore sent the letter to your old address
  • you did not receive the RTA letter because of an RTA mistake but you knew, or should have known, that you might be suspended due to the accumulation of demerit points or because you recently exceeded the speed limit by more than 30kph or because you breached a probationary licence or because you had outstanding fines

If our lawyers believe that you have a defence of 'honest and reasonable mistake', we will write to police outlining the situation and requesting that the charge be withdrawn.

If police refuse, we can fight your case in court. Sydney Criminal Lawyers has on many occasions obtained costs orders against police after they have refused to withdraw charges, which were ultimately dismissed by the Magistrate in court.

'Section 10'

Section 10 is where you plead 'guilty' (or are found 'guilty') but the Magistrate chooses not to disqualify you from driving, fine you or give you a criminal record.

The Magistrate will usually only do this if you are of good character, are remorseful, are unlikely to reoffend, have a very strong need for your licence and where it is justified by the circumstances of the case.

To prove this to the Magistrate, we will suggest that you obtain up to 3 character references. We has a Character Reference Guide to assist you with this.

It will help if at least one of those references is from a work colleague or someone who can outline the importance of your licence for work.

We may may also suggest that you to undertake a 'traffic offender program', which can help persuade the Magistrate to treat you leniently.

We will do everything we can to obtain the best possible result in your situation, and we are proud to frequently obtain 'section 10s' where other criminal lawyers are unable to do so.

Obtaining a licence after being charged with 'driver never licenced'

If you are charged with 'driver never licenced', we will often advise you to attend the RTA and undertake an 'L's test' (ie a learner licence test) as soon as possible, preferably before the first court date. 

We may ask the court to adjourn your matter to another date (eg 4-6 weeks later) for you to attempt to obtain a probationary or full licence.

Whether or not you are successful, the court may then use its discretion to deal with you under 'section 10' ie without disqualification, fine or criminal record.

'Representations' to police

If we believe that you have a valid defence to driving without a valid licence eg the defence of 'honest and reasonable mistake', or 'necessity' (which is when you drove due to an emergency), or 'duress' (ie you were forced to drive) etc, we will write to police outlining the situation and requesting that the charge be withdrawn.
 
This can save you from the stress, anxiety and expense of having to defend your matter at a hearing.

Penalties for Unlicensed Driving in NSW



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Driving without a license

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Driving without a license
Sydney Criminal Lawyers - Museum Towers, Suite 507, 267 Castlereagh St, Sydney NSW 2000 info@criminallaw.com.au Phone: 02 9261 8881 Fax: 02 9264 0880
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