When your licence is ‘disqualified’, it means that it has been cancelled. When your licence has been ‘suspended’, it means that it has been temporarily put on hold. The effect of disqualification or suspension is pretty much the same, you are not permitted to drive if you are disqualified or suspended. The difference in these terms mainly comes down to how you get your licence back again.
Typically, a ‘disqualification’ is handed down by a Court and a ‘suspension’ is handed out by VicRoads. ‘Disqualification’ is the considered the more serious charge because it generally means that a Magistrate has told you that you were disqualified, but you drove anyway. Therefore, you disobeyed a Court order which is not looked upon favourably. That said, the penalties for both offences are fairly similar.
If you have been disqualified, you need to apply for a whole new licence. You will either need to apply to VicRoads or the Magistrates Court, depending on the circumstances of your particular case. If you have been suspended, your licence simply ‘restarts’ after the suspension period has been served. You don’t need to apply for anything or pay any fees.
Any persons licence can be suspended or disqualified in a number of ways: either you have accumulated too many demerit points, you failed to pay fines, you were speeding over a certain level, you committed a drink or drug driving offence, or you committed some other criminal offence involving a car.
Penalties for driving whist disqualified or suspended can be serious, particularly for a second or subsequent offence. Typically, a first offence can be dealt with by way of a fine, however jail (up to 4 months) is also a possible sentence for these offences.
You should consult a lawyer to get advice about the penalties for your case, particularly if you have a prior for driving whilst disqualified or suspended. This is because the penalties increase substantially for a second or subsequent offence (large fines and imprisonment up to 2 years). Other penalties include further disqualification of your licence for very lengthy periods.
One of the ways to defend a driving whilst disqualified or suspended charge is if the notice of suspension was not properly executed, or you have made an ‘honest and reasonable mistake’ about the status of your licence (ie: you did not know that your licence was suspended). However, you have a responsibility to keep your address current with VicRoads, so it is not enough to say that VicRoads never served you if it was your fault that they did not have your proper address. You should consult a lawyer if you think you have a defence to this charge or if you are at risk of going to jail.
Call us on 0468 364 121 for some free advice