Driving Whilst Disqualified or Suspended - The Penalty in South Australia

It is considered a serious offence to drive a motor vehicle whilst your licence is suspended or disqualified. The maximum penalty for a first offence of driving whilst disqualified is imprisonment for six (6) months. The maximum penalty for a subsequent of driving whilst disqualified is imprisonment for two (2) years.

>> Section 91(5) of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1959 states: 

“A person must not drive a motor vehicle on a road while his or her licence or learner’s permit is suspended or while disqualified in this State or another State or Territory of the Commonwealth from holding or obtaining a licence or learner’s permit.”

Courts look particularly serious upon offending that has involved defying an order of disqualification. The Supreme Court of South Australia has explained: 

“The offence of driving while under disqualification is a most serious offence, as is indicated by the maximum penalty of six months’ imprisonment prescribed by the section. Its seriousness consists in the defiance of the law which it manifests and in the fact that it nullifies the effect of the order of disqualification which is imposed for the protection of the public. The effectiveness of orders of disqualification from holding or obtaining a driver’s licence depends upon observance of them by the persons disqualified. If they are treated with contempt and ignored by the persons affected, the orders of the court designed to deter offenders and to protect the public are rendered ineffective. The ordinary punishment for driving under disqualification must be imprisonment.”

Courts have several options available when imposing a sentence for driving whilst disqualified. As an alternative to imposing an actual term of imprisonment, the court may order a period of home detention, a suspended term of imprisonment, a bond to be of good behaviour or a fine. The court also has the discretion to impose a further licence disqualification. 

It is advisable to seek legal advice of charged with driving whilst disqualified. There are defences available to a charge of driving whilst disqualified. Alternatively, if pleading guilty, it is important to seek legal advice to ensure that your bests interests are advanced during the sentencing process. 

The information contained within this article is intended as a general overview and discussion of the subjects dealt with. The information provided here was accurate as of the day it was posted; however, the law may have changed since that date. This information is not intended to be, and should not be used as, a substitute for taking legal advice in any specific situation. Craig Fabbian and Fabbian Lawyers are not responsible for any actions taken or not taken on the basis of this information.