Driving Whilst Suspended / Disqualified Lawyers Melbourne
Have you been charged with driving whilst suspended or driving whilst disqualified?
We have offices in Melbourne’s CBD, Frankston, Dandenong, Ringwood, Moorabbin & Geelong. We regularly represent clients charged with these offences at the various Magistrates’ Courts. If you have been charged with either driving whilst disqualified or driving whilst suspended then you should contact our office today. If you click on the top right menu you will be able to select the nearest office to you. For a greater understanding of the ramifications of being charged with driving whilst suspended or driving whilst disqualified, please read on.
What will happen to my licence if I plead guilty to driving suspended or disqualified?
The critical point to note in relation to this type of offending is that further licence loss is discretionary. That means that the Magistrate that determines the penalty can choose whether or not to take your driver’s licence away for a further period. There are a number of different factors that influence whether a Magistrate will interfere with your driver’s licence. Some of the matters that need to be contemplated include:
- Did you drive after being suspended or disqualified by a Magistrate or being informed about the suspension by a VicRoads letter?
- How far through the suspension period were you when police intercepted you?
- Were there any other aggravating features to the driving, such as speed, alcohol, drugs or carelessness?
- Were there any other suspensions at play (i.e. has VicRoads further suspended your licence)? Will a plea result in some other form of VicRoads action? It is important to understand that VicRoads and the courts are completely independent of one another, and all suspensions and disqualifications must run cumulatively.
- What did you tell police at the time?
- Were you cooperative?
These are just some of the factors that need to be considered by an experienced lawyer that understands the finer nuances of representing clients charged with driving whilst suspended or driving whilst disqualified. If you already have a court date, you can call our office today to speak to a traffic lawyer about how best to approach your case.
I didn’t know that my licence was suspended. Can I plead not guilty?
Both driving whilst suspended and driving whilst disqualified are offences that have strict liability. This means that once it is established that your driver’s licence was suspended or disqualified and you were driving in a motor vehicle on a Victorian road at the time then the offence is complete. What can then be raised is a defence. The most common defence is honest and reasonable mistake. The evidential onus must be discharged by the defendant and then the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that the mistake was neither honest nor reasonable.
Often, Magistrates will readily accept that the mistake was honest, but not so easily accept a mistake was reasonable. To decide whether you have an honest and reasonable mistake, a highly considered assessment of all the facts of the case must be made by an experienced lawyer. An example of some factors that are relevant are:
- What was your nominated address with VicRoads? If it had recently changed, was it updated?
- If you didn’t receive the mail, what other letters did you get from VicRoads?
- If there was a miscalculation of time off the road, what was the basis for this miscalculation and what evidence can be produced to support that miscalculation?
- Was someone interfering with your mail?
The list goes on. Every case is different and needs to be assessed by an experienced lawyer that regularly handles driving whilst suspended and driving whilst disqualified cases.
Be aware that by virtue of section 30A of the Road Safety Act, even if you are successful in defending a driving whilst suspended/disqualified charge a Magistrate can still impose disqualification time. This would be from the time that it is established that you were not aware of your driver’s licence suspension till the time you became aware. Sometimes this is an outcome clients want to avoid and needs to be considered before running a hearing.
What is the maximum penalty for driving whilst suspended / disqualified?
The same penalty applies for both offences, per section 30 of the Road Safety Act 1986, that is 30 penalty units or four months gaol for a first offence and 240 penalty units and two years gaol on a subsequent offence. The more serious maximum applies even if the prior offence is 20 years old.
There is no limit on how long a Magistrate can further interfere with your driver’s licence. We have seen suspensions as long as five years, although this is extremely rare. Often a Magistrate will extend a period from three to 12 months but with the right lawyer you can avoid any further suspension or disqualification at all.
Vehicle impoundment and forfeiture is also a possibility – more so with subsequent offences – so beware, by repeatedly driving whilst suspended or disqualified you could lose your vehicle to the government.
Do I need a lawyer to represent me if charged with driving when suspended or disqualified?
Our view is that you would be crazy to try to finalise these types of matters on your own, but sometimes people have financial constraints preventing them from being able to retain a lawyer.
Court really is a strange place. There are prosecutors there that only have one objective, which is to prosecute. The Magistrate is obliged to remain impartial, and if no one is there to represent your interests, things can go very wrong.
Sometimes you can get lucky, but why leave your your court outcome to chance? Select the nearest office to you, give us a call today and we will arrange for an appointment with one of our experienced traffic lawyers who can assist you.