Unlicensed driving

 

It is an offence under Queensland law to drive a motor vehicle when you do not hold a driver’s licence. The offence of unlicensed driving is classified as a simple offence, and will therefore be heard and decided in the Magistrates Court. The maximum penalty for this offence will depend on a variety of circumstances. If no relevant circumstance exists the maximum penalty you can receive is 40 penalty units or 1 years imprisonment. As at June 2015, a penalty unit is $113.85.

Police have discretion to issue only an infringement notice where in the 5 years previous to committing the offence you have not been convicted of a related driving offence. An infringement notice is a ticket issued on the spot or sent through the mail. If you only receive an infringement notice you will not need to attend court and the maximum penalty you can receive is 40 penalty units.

You will be required to attend court to have your matter dealt with if any of the following circumstances apply:

  • If at the time of committing the offence you have never held a driver's licence.
  • If in the 2 years prior to committing the offence you were convicted and disqualified from driving because you committed a drink driving offence, and  you did not become an interlock driver because you were not granted a drivers licence after your disqualification period for drink driving ended. 
  • You had been an interlock driver but at the time when you committed the offence you did not hold a valid Queensland driver’s licence and your interlock period had not ended, unless your driver’s licence expired within 4 weeks of when you committed the offence.

If commit the offence of unlicensed driving while you are a disqualified driver, or a repeat unlicensed driver for the offence, the court will take a range of factors into account when deciding what penalty to impose on you (you are a repeat unlicensed driver for the offence if in the 5 years before committing the offence you committed the same offence). These are:

All of the circumstances of the case, including circumstances of aggravation or mitigation

  • The public interest
  • Your criminal and traffic history
  • Your medical history
  • Your mental or physical capacity
  • If you committed any associated or further offences while the unlicensed driving offence was committed
  • Any other matters the court considers relevant

If you are convicted of unlicensed driving, in certain circumstances the court must disqualify you from holding or obtaining a Queensland driver's licence for a specified period of time: 

  • You committed the offence while you were disqualified by a court from holding or obtaining a drivers licence - 2 years, but not more than 5 years
  • You committed the offence while you were disqualified from holding or obtaining a drivers licence because of the allocation of demerit points - 6 months
  • You committed the offence while your authority to drive on a Queensland road under a non-Queensland driver licence was suspended because of the allocation of demerit points - 6 months
  • You committed the offence while disqualified from holding or obtaining a drivers licence because you had been convicted of an offence for driving more than 40km per hour over the speed limit - 6 months
  • You committed the offence while your authority to drive on a Queensland road under a non-Queensland driver licence was suspended because you were convicted of an offence for driving more than 40km per hour over the speed limit - 6 months
  • You committed the offence while your licence was suspended under the State Penalties Enforcement Act 1999 - At least 1 month, but not more than 6 months
  • If you have a prior unlicensed driving offence in the last 5 years - At least 1 month, but not more than 6 months
  • If you committed the offence while your licence was suspended, disqualified or your authority to drive on a Queensland road under a non-Queensland driver licence was suspended, under s 79B of the Transport Operations (Road Use Management) Act 1995 - At least 2 years, but not more than 5 years
  • If in the 2 years prior to committing the offence you were convicted and disqualified from driving because you committed a drink driving offence, and  you did not become an interlock driver because you were not granted a drivers licence after your disqualification period for drink driving ended - At least 1 month, but not more than 6 months
  • You had been an interlock driver but at the time when you committed the offence you did not hold a valid Queensland driver’s licence and your interlock period had not ended, unless your driver’s licence expired within 4 weeks of when you committed the offence - At least 1 month, but not more than 6 months
  • If at the time you committed the offence you had never held a driver's licence - 3 months

The mandatory disqualification periods in the above circumstances will apply regardless of whether a conviction was recorded or not for the offence.