Driving with suspended licence or when prohibited is a highly serious traffic law violation in South Australia. Depending on the specifics of the offense, there may be a fine, additional disqualification, or even jail as a penalty. The Motor Vehicles Act of 1959, which makes it illegal to drive while under suspension or with a driving disqualification, outlines all of this. The sections of the Act also specify potential punishments and whether a judge would consider defenses.
Under South Australian traffic law, a licence may be disqualified or suspended for various reasons including the following;
- If you accrue 12 demerit points or more within three years.
- If you accumulate 4 or more demerit points as a learner driver.
- If you breach a condition of good behaviour already imposed on your licence.
- If you accumulate 2 or more drug driving offences within a period of five years.
- If you fail to pay fines after they become due.
- If you have an accumulation of drink driving offences.
- If you have an accumulation of speeding offences.
If you have been accused of any of the aforementioned offenses, your license may be revoked or suspended. You will violate the Act if you keep driving while your license is suspended. Different punishments may be imposed depending on the charge’s severity and other relevant considerations. In addition, whether it was a first or subsequent offense will affect the punishment meted out to the offender.
Driving whilst suspended/disqualified
Driving a motor vehicle on a public road in South Australia while having a suspended or barred license is against the law, according to Section 91 of the Act. A first-time offender may face a fine and/or a six-month sentence as punishment. The maximum sentence for a second or subsequent offense is two years in prison. Additionally, the courts have the authority to impose any length of disqualification that they think appropriate in light of the circumstances of the case. It is significant to highlight that there is no way to shorten or alter this additional time of exclusion.
Additionally, people who are caught driving while their licenses are suspended or revoked and they have also been caught committing another crime, such as drink driving, would face greater penalties under the Act’s provisions. If you are found guilty of both driving while suspended or disqualified and driving under the influence of alcohol, you could face up to a year in prison or a fine of about $5,000. The courts must also impose a further period of ban on the person’s driver’s license for a period of at least three years if they have been found guilty of both driving while suspended or disqualified and drinking.
Driving whilst unlicensed
In South Australia, you might also face charges for operating a vehicle without a legal license. This will actually apply if you are detected operating a motor vehicle on a public road after having neglected to renew your driver’s license. The maximum penalties for this offense is $1,250. A person who is caught driving after never having had a license in good standing will be fined about $2,000.
In accordance with the Act, there are some situations in South Australia where you might be entitled to raise a defense. The defense that the offense was only committed because of a critical emergency that called for the use of a motor vehicle is only occasionally accepted by the courts. The courts must be convinced that the person only decided to drive while their license was revoked or suspended because it was their only option to avert the emergency. This defense bears a significant burden of proof and is not often accepted.