Criminal Offences

Driving whilst Licence Suspended

Driving without a licence is a serious criminal charge in accordance to section 54.3 of the Road Transport Act 2013. This Act states that:

A person whose driver licence is suspended (otherwise than under section 66 of the Fines Act 1996) must not:

  1. Drive on a road a motor vehicle of the class to which the suspended driver licence relates, or
  2. Make an application for a driver licence during the period of suspension for a motor vehicle of the class to which the suspended driver licence relates and in respect of such an application:
    1. State the person’s name falsely or incorrectly, or
    2. Omit to mention the suspension.

A licence suspension can occur for a number of reasons including the accumulation of too many demerit points, traffic offences, speeding or failing to pay fines when required. This differs from a disqualification of licence which is imposed by the Court for extremely serious traffic offences such as dangerous driving or drink driving offences. Furthermore, if your licence is suspended you will not need to reapply to drive once your suspension is finalised, while is disqualification requires a reapplication.

The consequences for driving whilst suspended can include serious hefty fines and even imprisonment. Luckily, it is possible to take steps to try and avoid or at least lessen the penalties that may be incurred with the help of expert traffic infringement lawyers. At Benjamin Leonardo – The Defenders, we are highly qualified in representing traffic related offences.

If you or someone you know is facing charges of driving whilst suspended, it is advised to contact our traffic offence lawyers to schedule a FREE consultation.

PENALTIES

There are many penalties that could be incurred if you are caught driving with a suspended licence. Typically, these penalties are less serious for first time offenders, whilst those who have participated in the unlawful activity on multiple occasions could be faced with more severe punishments.

For first time offenders, the maximum fine incurred is $3,300 and/or a potential 6-month term of imprisonment. It is also important to be aware that driving with a suspended licence is still classified as a criminal offence. This means that even on the first time of being charged with the offence of driving whilst suspended in NSW will still require you to appear in Court before a Magistrate.

If you have been charged with driving whilst suspended on subsequent occasions, you will be liable to more severe penalties. In fact, section 54.3 of the Road Transport Act 2013 states that additional convictions of the same traffic offence attract a punishment of 50 penalty units which equates to a fine of $5,500. The Court may alternatively decide to impose a punishment of 12 months in gaol or enforce both punishments collectively in severe circumstances. Statistics demonstrate that fines are the most commonly penalty incurred for the traffic offence of driving with a suspended licence, while imprisonment, including home detention was fairly uncommon.

However, it is important to be aware that the Court can use its discretion to impose less significant punishments in appropriate situations. In fact, the specific nature of the penalties that will be imposed vary significantly and are enforced on a case by case basis after the deliberation of numerous factors. You may be ordered to perform community service or be given a suspended sentence or good behaviour bond. Statistics demonstrate that out of 8,700 cases of unlicensed driving, 79 cases received suspended sentences, while slightly over 100 cases received community service as the punishment.

Furthermore, with the help of legal representation from our traffic infringement lawyers, we may be able to persuade the Court to deal with the offence by the means of a section 10. In these instances, the Court may dismiss the charge altogether whereby no penalty or conviction is incurred, otherwise minimal conditions are enforced. It may be surprising to know that out of 8,700 cases of unlicensed driving, over 1,450 individuals were sentenced by the means of a section 10, making it one of the most received sentences in relation to the offence.

If you or someone you know has been charged with driving with a suspended licence, it is best to seek legal advice from our traffic lawyers at Benjamin Leonardo to determine the most relevant penalties that may apply the specific case.

GUILTY

In order to be found guilty of driving whilst suspended, It is up to the Police to establish and prove the following beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • That you drove a motor vehicle on a road;
  • And you did so whilst suspended

If you tend to agree with the charges of driving whilst disqualified, it may be advisable to plead guilty. If you choose to do so, you will then proceed to sentencing where you could be facing the aforementioned penalties.

Despite this being true, pleading guilty may achieve more favourable outcomes. A guilty plea typically demonstrates remorse for your actions and therefore it is not uncommon for the Court to discount the maximum penalty by imposing a less serious fine, term of imprisonment or sentencing you to an alternative, non-custodial punishment.

Our Sydney based traffic lawyers may also be able to negotiate a deal with the prosecution team, given you enter a guilty plea or persuade the Court to deal with the matter by the means of a section 10 dismissal. If a section 10 is granted, no conviction will be recorded and penalties will not be imposed. However, in some instance, a section 10 may stipulate conditions that must be adhered to, otherwise the privilege could be revoked.

At Benjamin Leonardo – The Defenders, we are a team of leading traffic offence lawyers based in Sydney. With 29 years of experience in traffic and criminal law, along with our involvement in the Traffic Offenders Intervention Program, our team possesses extensive knowledge in relation to offences such as driving whilst suspended. Furthermore, through our honesty, dedication and commitment, our team has proudly achieved a 90% success rate on all traffic offence and criminal cases that we have represented.

If you or someone you know is facing charges related to driving whilst suspended, it is advised to seek legal representation immediately. Call our traffic lawyers now to schedule a FREE first consultation where we can provide tailored advice in relation to your specific matter.

NOT GUILTY

One method of fighting the charge of driving with a suspended licence is to plead not guilty. In order for prosecutors to have you convicted of driving without a licence, they have to prove that you drove on a public road having never had a licence or with a licence that is invalid, suspended or cancelled. If this cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, you will not be convicted of driving without a licence. In fact, if it is not possible to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that these two conditions of the charge were met, it is possible that the charges could be dropped without there even being any further proceedings.

However, if you have pleaded not guilty and the prosecution is able to prove these claims, our experienced traffic lawyers will scrutinise the evidence provided and raise an appropriate legal defence. If we are successful, you will be found not guilty, and no penalties will be incurred. It is important to remember, however, that in some instances our defence strategies only provide a partial defence. This means that you could be liable to punishment of some sort by an alternative verdict, although the penalty incurred in this situation is typically less significantly than the penalties associated with the original charge.

THE DEFENCE

If you are pleading not guilty to the charges of driving whilst suspended, our criminal defence lawyers can argue the following defences:

Duress: Involves the use of unlawful pressure to encourage an individual to commit a criminal act, which they would not usually participate in had a threat not been present. This coercion can take form of harmful threats such as death or grievous bodily harm in which the accused believes that if they do not participate in the activity it is likely the threat will be played out.

Honest and Reasonable Mistake: The Criminal Codes Act 1995 (Cth) defines circumstances in which a person will not be criminally responsible for particular offences. Under division 9, the Criminal Codes Act states:

9.1: Mistake of ignorance of the fact (fault elements other than negligence).

  1. A person is not criminally responsible for an offence that has a physical element for which there is fault element other than negligence if:
    1. at the time of the conduct constituting the physical element, the person is under a mistaken belief about, or is ignorant of, fact and
    2. the existence of that mistaken belief or ignorance negates any fault element applying to that physical element.
  2. In determining whether a person was under a mistaken belief about, or was ignorant of, fact, the tribunal of fact may consider whether the mistaken belief or ignorance was reasonable in the circumstances.

Therefore, it must be proven that there was a mistaken belief surrounding the incidence. A common example showcasing a reasonable and honest mistake is that the accused may have not been aware that their licence was suspended. This demonstrates a reasonable mistaken belief in which the accused will be found not guilty of this particular charge.

Other: There are some special cases where a charge for driving without a licence may be dropped. Charges of driving without a licence can be dropped if you were driving to seek help for a medical emergency.

WHICH COURT?

The matter of driving with an suspended licence will typically be finalised in the Local Court.

As leading criminal defence lawyers, Benjamin Leonardo – The Defenders, have extensive experience in representing clients at various Court locations throughout NSW and have even won cases in the NSW Supreme Court. Therefore, you can be confident that our Sydney traffic lawyers are dedicated to achieving the best outcome possible regardless of which Court the matter will be heard in.

Contact our leading criminal law firm now for a FREE first consultation.