In Queensland, driving without a licence disqualified by a court order refers to the act of operating a motor vehicle while you are disqualified from holding or obtaining a driver’s licence. The legal definition and penalties for this offence can be found in section 78 of the Queensland Transport Operations (Road Use Management) Act 1995.

What is disqualified driving?

“Disqualified driving” refers to the act of operating a motor vehicle while you are prohibited or disqualified from holding or obtaining a driver’s licence. In other words, you have recently been to court and had your licence disqualified by a court order for a traffic offence such as drink driving, drug driving or a previous disqualified driving charge and you are caught driving during this disqualification period, you can be charged with disqualified driving.

What do the police have to prove?

To secure a conviction for the offence the police typically need to prove certain elements beyond a reasonable doubt.

Here are some of the common elements the police need to prove:

  1. Identity: The police must establish the identity of the person who was driving the vehicle. This may involve producing evidence, such as eyewitness testimonies or photo or video evidence (bodyworn camera or CCTV footage).
  2. Disqualification Status: The police must demonstrate that the accused was, in fact, disqualified from driving at the time of the offence. This might involve presenting evidence of the disqualification order or court documentation showing the disqualification.
  3. Operation of a Motor Vehicle: The police need to prove that the accused was operating or in control of a motor vehicle at the time of the offence. This could involve eyewitness accounts, video evidence, or police testimony.
  4. Location and Date: The police must establish where and when the offence occurred. This information is important for determining the jurisdiction and whether the offence occurred during the period of disqualification.
  5. Intent or Knowledge: In some cases, the police may need to show that the accused had knowledge of their disqualification status or intended to drive while disqualified. This can be inferred from the circumstances of the case.

It’s essential to remember that the burden of proof lies with the prosecution, and they must prove all necessary elements of the offence beyond a reasonable doubt for a conviction to occur.

What are the penalties?

Penalties can vary depending on several factors, including the nature of the offence, prior convictions, and other circumstances. Disqualified driving is a serious offence as it is a complete disregard of the law and it is a breach of a court order.

The penalties include:

  1. Fines: Depending on the specifics of the case, individuals caught driving while disqualified can face fines. The exact amount can vary but may range from hundreds to a maximum fine of $9,288.
  2. Jail: In more serious cases or for repeat offenders, jail is a real possibility. The length of imprisonment can also vary, but the maximum period is 18 months imprisonment.
  3. Disqualification of licence: If you are convicted of disqualified driving you will be disqualified from holding or obtaining a driver licence for a period of 2-5 years.
  4. Forfeiture of Vehicle: In some cases, the court may order the forfeiture of the vehicle used in the commission of the offence.
  5. Criminal Record: A conviction for disqualified driving will result in a criminal record, which can have long-term consequences on one’s ability to secure employment, housing, and travel.

It’s important to note that the specific penalties can vary based on individual circumstances and the discretion of the court. Penalties may be more severe for repeat offenders or for those who were disqualified due to certain criminal convictions.

Do you have a legal defence?

In Queensland, the “honest and reasonable mistake” defence is a legal defence that can be used in disqualified driving cases. This defence is based on the premise that the accused driver genuinely and reasonably believed they were not disqualified from driving at the time of the offence. To successfully employ this defence, the accused must demonstrate the following elements:

  1. Honest Belief: The accused must show that they had a genuine and honest belief that they were not disqualified from driving. This belief should be based on their understanding of the law and their specific circumstances.
  2. Reasonable Belief: It’s not enough for the accused to merely claim an honest belief; the belief must also be objectively reasonable. In other words, a reasonable person, in similar circumstances, should have held the same belief. If the belief is not reasonable, the defence is less likely to succeed.

Do you need a lawyer?

When faced with the daunting charge of driving without a licence, securing the services of a seasoned traffic lawyer can be your most strategic move. If this is not the first time you have been charged with this offence, penalties are more severe and there is a real chance you could go to jail. A proficient lawyer who specialises in traffic offences brings a wealth of knowledge about Queensland’s legal intricacies, offering invaluable support during this challenging time. Our leading traffic lawyer, Ryan Roche is adept at scrutinising the details of your case, identifying potential defences, and ensuring that your rights are upheld throughout the legal process. A traffic lawyer’s expertise becomes your shield against the severe penalties associated with unlicensed driving, as they navigate negotiations with the prosecution or present a compelling case in court.

By leveraging a thorough understanding of Queensland traffic laws, Watling Roche Lawyers often devise effective strategies to mitigate consequences, potentially leading to reduced charges or more lenient penalties such as no jail time, shorter disqualification periods, no convictions, and much smaller fines. In the face of uncertainty, Ryan Roche will become your advocate, working tirelessly to secure the best possible outcome and guide you toward a resolution that allows you to move forward with confidence.


If you would like to talk to a lawyer for free about your legal matter, please call our leading lawyer, Ryan Roche on 07 3188 1767 or 0402 843 177 24 hours, 7 days a week.