The Vehicle and Traffic Act 1999 makes it an offence to drive whilst your licence is suspended or disqualified in Tasmania. There are many reasons why a licence will be suspended or disqualified. If you are caught driving on a public road in Tasmania, without a valid licence you will be guilty of an offence. Penalties for the offence of driving whilst suspended in Tasmania include disqualification, fines or even imprisonment.
A driver’s licence may be suspended in Tasmania or be disqualified for the following reasons;
- The offender has never held a licence in Tasmania.
- The offender has a licence that has expired and not been renewed.
- The individual has a licence that is under suspension for administrative reasons (i.e. medical grounds).
- The offender has accumulated demerit points that warrant a suspension/disqualification.
- The offender has accumulated speeding or other traffic offences that require a suspension/disqualification period to be imposed.
- The offender has committed a criminal offence i.e. drug driving and a suspension/disqualification period has been ordered by the court.
In the event that you have already been suspended or disqualified from obtaining a licence, and are caught driving on any public road within Tasmania, you will be guilty of an offence.
Driving whilst suspended in Tasmania
Under section 9 of the Act, you may be charged with driving whilst under a suspension if the court is satisfied that you were driving a motor vehicle on a public road whilst your licence was subject to a suspension. Please note that even a foreign licence subject to a suspension period is included as an offence under the Tasmanian Act. Further, this section of the Act makes it an offence for a person to employ an individual and permit them to drive a motor vehicle on a public street if their licence is subject to a suspension.
Driving whilst disqualified in Tasmania
Under section 13 of the Act, you may be charged with driving whilst disqualified if the court is satisfied that you were driving a motor vehicle on a public street in Tasmania whilst your licence was subject to a disqualification. Your licence may have been previously disqualified by a court for drink driving or other driving offences.
Driving whilst suspended
For a first time offender, a fine of over $4,000 may be imposed as well as a term of imprisonment of up to 3 months. For a second or subsequent offender, a fine will generally be imposed of over $8,000 as well as a term of imprisonment of up to 6 months. The courts, depending on the severity of the case, may choose to impose a fine or imprisonment, or both. It is important to note that the court will also impose a period of licence disqualification.
Driving whilst disqualified
Any first time offence will attract a fine of over $6,000 or a term of imprisonment of up to 6 months. A second or subsequent offence will attract a fine of over $12,000 or a term of imprisonment of up to 12 months. The courts may impose both a fine and term of imprisonment if the circumstances are severe enough to warrant a harsher penalty.
It is also important to note that the courts will impose a further period of disqualification in addition to any fine/jail term that is handed down. For a first time offender, a further period of disqualification of up to 3 years will be imposed. For any second or subsequent offences, the period of further disqualification may be up to 5 years, as decided by the courts.
In rare circumstances, the courts will accept a defence to a charge of driving whilst suspended/disqualified. The most common defence is that the offender did not know, or could not have known that their licence was subject to a suspension/disqualification. However, this defence will only be available in limited circumstances and is subject to many exceptions.