Driving Suspended / Disqualified in NSW

The Offence

Driving Suspended

Driving suspended / disqualified in NSW is an offence for a variety of reasons including:

  • Accumulation of demerit points
  • Speeding over 25km/h
  • Non payment of fines
  • Immediate suspension following a drink driving offence

If you have been caught driving while suspended it is illegal to drive on a road or road related area in a vehicle class to which the suspended license relates to.

Driving while suspended often relates to driving during a demerit point suspension. The suspension is often initiated by RMS, whereby a letter is sent alerting the driver to the fact that their points have been exceeded and a suspension is pending.

If you are caught driving whilst serving a suspension period you will be charged and required to attend court.

Driving Disqualified

Driving whilst disqualified usually relates to a situation where an offender has previously been disqualified by the Courts for a prior traffic matter and is subsequently caught driving, being an offence per s.54 of the Act.

This is considered to be a more serious offence than driving whilst suspended or unlicensed, as it arises as a result of directly disobeying an order of a court.

The Penalty

First time offenders driving can receive up to four months imprisonment and second time offenders face a maximum of two years. It is however unlikely that a first time offender will receive a term of imprisonment, and on most occasions, discretion will be exercised by the Magistrate to impose a combination of an additional suspension or disqualification, together with a fine.

Driving Suspended / Disqualified in NSW

Note: Excludes suspension or cancellation under the Fines Act 1996.

PenaltyFirst offenceSecond or subsequent offence
Maximum court-imposed fine$3300$5500
Maximum prison term6 months12 months
Minimum disqualification3 months6 months
Default period of disqualification6 months12 months

It should also be noted that your vehicle may be impounded, as these offences are now categorised under hoon legislation.

If you have been charged with any of the above offences, it is imperative that you call an expert traffic lawyer ASAP to discuss your case.

Can I Defend the Charge?

The most common defence in relation to driving whilst suspended and driving whilst disqualified is that of “honest and reasonable mistake”. Other available defences include Duress, Necessity, Emergency or Factual Dispute.

If you didn’t know that your licence was suspended then you may have a defence. If you didn’t, whether that belief was a reasonable one to have in all the circumstances is a question that can only be answered after speaking to an experienced legal practitioner who routinely handles these types of cases.