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Driving Whilst Suspended in Tasmania
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.