A driver’s licence can be disqualified in a number of ways and for a number of reasons. Some of the most common disqualifications are:
- Exceeding demerit points;
- Breach of a Good Behaviour Option;
- Instant Loss of Licence issued by Police following a traffic offence;
- Licence disqualification imposed by a Court.
Where an offence of Driving Disqualified has occurred and the driver has demonstrated a flagrant disregard of the disqualification order in place the Court will consider the offence to be very serious.
Driving Disqualified is a criminal offence. Section 91 of the Motor Vehicles Act 1959 prescribes a maximum penalty of 6 months imprisonment for a first offences and a maximum 2 years imprisonment for any subsequent offence.
While a licence can be disqualified for many reasons the legislation does not prescribe different penalties for the offence based on the type of disqualification that has been breached. In determining and imposing penalty the Court will consider the mindset or attitude of the driver when they committed the offence.
There is a real risk of imprisonment being imposed on a first offence of Driving Disqualified. A sentence of imprisonment may be immediate, suspended upon entering a good behaviour bond or be served on home detention.
The Court is not required to impose any mandatory licence disqualification upon a Guilty Plea to an offence of Driving Disqualified however the Magistrate does have a discretionary power to order a licence disqualification.
It is a defence to a charge of Driving Disqualified where the driver honestly and reasonably believed that he/she was legally able to drive. The defence is one of honest and reasonable mistake of fact.