What is Drive Whilst Suspended
Driving Whilst Suspended involves driving a motor vehicle on a public road whilst the licence is suspended. The licence can be suspended for a variety of reasons such as loss of demerit points, serious traffic offences, speeding and non payment of fines.
Drive Whilst Suspended & The Law
Section 54(3) of the Road Transport Act 2013 makes it an offence to drive a vehicle on a public road whilst the licence is suspended.
If the person’s licence was suspended due to non-payment of fines, they will be charged under Section 54(5)(a) of the Road Transport Act 2013.
What the Prosecution need to Prove (Beyond a Reasonable Doubt):
The accused was driving a motor vehicle on a road
At the time, the accused’s licence was suspended
Going to Court – “What am I looking at?”
i. Section 54(3) – Drive Whilst Suspended
If this is a first time a person has been charged with this offence, there is a maximum fine of $3,300 and a maximum period of imprisonment of 6 months. It also carries an automatic period of licence disqualification of 6 months, which can be reduced to a minimum 3 months.
If however, the person has been convicted of a previous offence of drive whilst suspended within the past 5 years, or any other ‘major offence’, within the past 5 years, this is called a ‘second or subsequent offence’. This is a significantly more serious charge which is dealt with by the Courts with harsher penalties. It carries a maximum fine of up to $5,500 and a maximum period of imprisonment of 12 months. It also carries an automatic period of licence disqualification of 12 months, which can be reduced to a minimum 6 months.
ii. Section 54(5)(a) - Non Payment of Fines
For the charge of Drive Whilst suspended due to a non payment of fines under Section 54(5)(a, there is a maximum fine of $3,300 and an automatic period of licence disqualification of 3 months, which can be reduced to a minimum 1 month.
If however, the person has been convicted of a previous offence of drive whilst suspended due to non payment of fines, or any other ‘major offence’, within the past 5 years, there is a maximum fine of $5,500 and maximum period of imprisonment of 6 months. It also carries an automatic period of licence disqualification of 12 months, which can be reduced to a minimum 3 months.
What is a ‘Major Offence’?
A ‘Major Offence’ is a serious traffic offence and defined under Section 4 of the Road Transport Act 2013. It can include but not limited to, traffic offences such as:
Drink or Drug Driving
Negligent Driving causing death or grievous bodily harm
Failing or refusing to provide oral fluid sample
"What if I just didn’t know it was suspended?"
There is a defence to this charge, if you can establish that there simply was an honest and reasonable mistaken belief that the licence was not suspended.
There are numerous cases of people changing their address at the time when Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) sent out the letter advising the commencement of the suspension period. There can also be other reasons for the person not receiving the letter, and if on the balance of probabilities it can be established that it simply was a reasonable mistaken belief, then the charge can be dismissed.
Lawyer Call – here to help..
At Lawyer Call, we understand that if you or a loved one has been charged with an offence of Drive Whilst Suspended, you may be feeling anxious and worried about what will happen next.
Our Traffic defence team have in-depth preparation in gathering and analysing specific supporting documentation to highlight a person’s need for a licence during sentencing. Based on available evidence, our solicitors will make strong verbal submissions to the Magistrate highlighting various forms of hardships that would be suffered as a result of a loss of licence for a longer duration as well as any other subjective factors that will assist in having a reduced period of disqualification.
At Lawyer Call, we treat each case on its own merit, and hold the firm view that a personalised approach to conferencing and legal advice is the best and fairest way to represent our clients. Exploring one’s personal circumstances helps our team present an overall larger and more precise picture to the Court, and this undoubtedly speaks volumes in achieving a more favourable outcome.
Factors such as the person’s age, traffic record, attendance and participation at a Traffic Offenders Program, general character in the community, and extenuating circumstances of the incident such as the reason for driving, are just some of the avenues our solicitors will explore with you. Together we will prepare your case with a common aim of obtaining a more lenient sentence, with a reduced disqualification period, a minimal fine, and most importantly avoid imprisonment.
Contact Lawyer Call today and speak to one of our expert Traffic Lawyers and find out why our Team is the experienced Defence you need to get back on the road as quickly as possible.