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Driving Unlicensed in Tasmania

Written by Michelle Makela

Michelle Makela is one of our Legal Practice Directors and the National Practice Manager. She holds a Bachelor of Laws, a Bachelor of Science (Psychology) and a Master’s in Criminology. Michelle has had a varied career, working in commercial litigation, criminal law, family law and estate planning. Michelle joined Go To Court Lawyers in 2011. She now supervises a team of over 80 solicitors across Australia.

In Tasmania, the Vehicle and Traffic Act 1999 requires that drivers in hold a valid driver’s licence and declares that it is an offence to drive without one. Under the Act, driving unlicensed in Tasmania occurs when: you have never held a licence; your licence is expired; your licence is under an administrative suspension (for example, it is suspended under medical grounds); your licence is otherwise suspended, cancelled or disqualified; or your licence is suspended due to unpaid fines owed under the Monetary Penalties Act 2005.

Driving unlicensed in Tasmania is a summary (simple) offence which is dealt with by a Magistrate in the Magistrate’s Court, sometimes referred to as the Court of Petty Sessions.

In Tasmania you must show your driver’s license when requested by a policeman

Suspended or cancelled licence

If the court wishes to disqualify your licence for a period of less than three months, it is considered to be suspended. If it is disqualified for a period of more than three months, it is considered cancelled. Your licence may be disqualified for a number of reasons. You will be disqualified if you are caught speeding in excess of 38km/hr over the speed limit, if you are under the influence of drugs or excessive alcohol, if you are a learner driver and are not accompanied by a driver with an open licence or if you have accumulated too many demerit points.

While your licence is disqualified you are not authorised to drive on the roads. If you are caught driving while your licence is under suspension, the penalties you face will be more severe than other types of unlicensed driving (such as driving with an expired licence). 

Penalty for not presenting your licence to a policeman or traffic inspector

In Tasmania, the law requires that you produce your driver’s licence when requested by a policeman, or traffic inspector, in the course of routine traffic enforcement activities. Failing to do so earns an infringement notice and a $50 fine. Police have the discretion to not issue this infringement notice, and instead leave you with a verbal warning. This is more likely if it is your first traffic offence, and you have a reasonable excuse for not having your driver’s licence on you.

Penalty for unlicensed driving

Article 8 of the Vehicle and Traffic Act 1999 contains the penalties for driving unlicensed. If you are caught driving without a licence, and it is your first offence of this type, the maximum penalty is 20 penalty unit (1 penalty unit = $140). Second or subsequent offences attract a maximum penalty of 40 penalty units, or a three month prison sentence.

Penalties for driving with a licence that is suspended

Article 9 of the Vehicle and Traffic Act 1999 contains the penalties for driving with a suspended licence. If it is a first offence, the maximum fine is 30 penalty units, or a maximum imprisonment sentence of three months. Second and subsequent offences carry a potential fine of 60 penalty units, or six months imprisonment. Driving on a suspended licence may also attract a period of disqualification. For speeding suspensions, the disqualification period depends on what speed you were driving.

If you were caught driving 38-45km/hour over the speed limit, there is a mandatory three month disqualification. Driving over 45km/hour over the speed limit attracts a four month disqualification.

Accumulation of too many demerit points

If you have accumulated too many demerit points, you may have the option of going on a good behaviour bond rather than having your licence suspended. This good behaviour bond lasts for 12 months, and if broken, disqualifies the driver’s licence for double the amount of time of the original suspension. There is also the option to apply for a restricted licence which allows the driver to drive under certain circumstances such as transport to and from work.

Penalty for driving with a disqualified licence

Driving with a disqualified licence carries heavier penalties than other forms of unlicensed driving. First time offenders face a possible maximum fine of 40 penalty units, six months in jail, and a further period of licence disqualification of a maximum of three years. Second and subsequent offences attract a maximum possible penalty of 80 units, a potential jail sentence of up to 12 months, and a possible maximum licence disqualification of up to five years.

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