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Unlicensed Driving in the Australian Capital Territory

In the ACT, you may commit one of a number of offences if you drive a motor vehicle on a road without holding a valid drivers licence to do so.  These offences are contained in the Road Transport (Driver Licensing) Act 1999 (ACT) and the Road Transport (Driver Licensing) Regulation 2000 (ACT). Different offences and penalties apply if you drive a motor vehicle on a road:

  • without holding a valid Australian drivers licence to do so
  • without holding a valid Australian drivers licence to do so, and you have never held an Australian drivers licence to do so
  • whilst you are suspended from doing so
  • whilst you are disqualified from holding an Australian drivers licence, your Australian drivers licence is suspended or cancelled, or your application for an Australian drivers licence is refused in any jurisdiction, or
  • if you hold a non-ACT drivers licence or a foreign drivers licence and have been in the ACT for longer than three months.

Driving unlicensed in the ACT could land you a $3000 fine.

Driving unlicensed in the ACT

You commit an offence in the ACT if you drive a motor vehicle without holding a valid Australian drivers licence to do so. The maximum penalty for the offence is a fine of $3,000. In most circumstances you should receive an infringement notice of $534 when you first commit the offence.

Driving in the ACT unlicensed having never held a drivers licence

You commit an offence if you drive a motor vehicle on a road in the ACT and you have never held an Australian drivers licence to do so. You are treated as having never held an Australian drivers licence if you have not held such a licence in the 5 years prior to committing the offence. The first time you commit the offence, the maximum penalty is a fine of $3,000. However, you are more likely to receive an infringement notice of $534. If you are a repeat offender, the maximum penalty is a fine $7,500, 6 month’s imprisonment or both.

Driving in the ACT while your licence is suspended

If you are caught driving in the ACT while your licence is suspended, you will commit an offence with a maximum fine $3,000. You should however receive an infringement notice for $534. This only applies when the suspension was not ordered by a Court.

Driving in the ACT while your licence is disqualified

You commit an offence if you are caught driving in the ACT whilst you are disqualified from holding or obtaining an Australian drivers licence in any jurisdiction, or your licence is suspended in any jurisdiction. The first time you commit the offence, the maximum penalty is a fine of $7,500, 6 months’ imprisonment or both. Your licence will also be automatically disqualified for 12 months if you are disqualified or, if your licence is suspended, a period of 1 to 3 months depending on the circumstances.

If you have committed the same offence more than once, the maximum penalties are a fine of $15,000, 1 years imprisonment or both. Your licence may be automatically disqualified for 12 months or 24 months depending on the circumstances.

Driving in the ACT whilst licence application refused or licence cancelled

If you drive in the ACT without an Australian drivers licence and your application for an Australian drivers licence has been refused in any State or Territory, or your licence is cancelled in any State or Territory because you committed an offence in that jurisdiction, you commit an offence with a maximum penalty for a first offence of a $7,500 fine, 6 months’ imprisonment, or both. You will also receive an automatic disqualification from driving of 12 months. 

If you commit the offence more than once, the maximum penalty is a fine of $15,000, 1 years imprisonment or both, and a 24 month minimum disqualification period.

Driving in the ACT on interstate or foreign licences

If you are travelling to the ACT from interstate or overseas, you may be entitled to drive in the ACT on your interstate or overseas drivers licence for a period of time. If you come from interstate or hold a New Zealand drivers licence, you do not need an ACT drivers licence for the first 3 months of residing in the ACT. If you hold a foreign drivers licence and have a permanent visa, you can drive in the ACT using your foreign licence for 3 months from the date you started holding your permanent visa. 

If you drive in the ACT on your non-ACT drivers licence after the 3 month period has elapsed, you commit an offence with a maximum penalty of a $3,000 fine. You will also not be able to drive in the ACT using your non-ACT licence if that licence is suspended or you are disqualified from driving in that jurisdiction.

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