Clarity Law

Specialist Traffic Law Firm Queensland
Tuesday, 31 August 2021 03:18

Essential Guide to Disqualified Driving

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The transport legislation sets out a scheme of disqualifications from driving for certain offences. In addition to this scheme, the courts have a general power to disqualify anyone convicted of any offence that involves the use of a motor vehicle.

The purpose of this brief guide is to explain what happens if you are caught driving while you are subject to one of these court-ordered periods of disqualification from driving.


What is “Disqualified Driving”?

Section 78 of the Transport Operations (Road Use Management) Act 1995 creates a number of offences for driving without having a valid driver’s licence. One of the most serious of these offences is driving whilst disqualified from holding or obtaining a driver’s licence by court order. This offence is commonly referred to as “disqualified driving”.

It is worth noting that the offence requires you to be driving a “motor vehicle.” This phrase has a precise, legal definition that is spelt out in the traffic legislation. Specifically, it is:

                … a vehicle propelled by a motor that forms part of the vehicle and –

  • includes a trailer attached to the vehicle; but
  • does not include a motorised scooter, a personal mobility device or a power-assisted bicycle.

These latter exclusions are also specifically defined in the legislation. What is significant is that this definition of “motor vehicle” is broader than typical, road-registered vehicles (such as cars, trucks, motorbikes, etc). This definition is capable of including other types of vehicles; for example, a bicycle with a petrol engine attached. This definition is especially important to be aware of now, as many of these irregular vehicles may be purchased online from overseas and imported into Queensland. Although they are not registered vehicles (and not capable of being registered in Queensland), they may still come under the definition.

Thus you may find yourself being charged with a disqualified driving offence, even though you may not have been driving a conventional, registered vehicle at the time. It is important to get correct legal advice if you are considering alternative transport options following disqualification from driving.

It is also worth noting that this section requires that the driving which constitutes the offence be done “on a road”. This causes some confusion, as many initially assume that the “road” being referred to can only be a public road. However, the traffic legislation also creates a precise, legal definition of road which includes:

                … an area that is –

  • open to or used by the public and is developed for, or has as 1 of its uses, the driving or riding of motor vehicles, whether on payment of a fee or otherwise; or
  • dedicated to public use as a road

In other words, a “road” is anywhere used to drive cars, either by design or by convention. For example, a shopping-centre carpark or a dirt track on private property. Put simply, almost anywhere that you can drive a car will probably satisfy the legal definition of a “road”.

You may, therefore, find yourself being charged with a disqualified driving offence, even though you were driving somewhere other than on a sealed, public road or street. Your weekend, off-roading adventure may not be as “off-road” as you think. If you come to the attention of the police, and you have been disqualified from driving by the court, you may find yourself being charged with a disqualified driving offence.



There are two, principal reasons why disqualified driving is a serious offence.

Firstly, the maximum penalties for this offence include a fine in excess of $8,000 or 18 months’ imprisonment. It also includes further disqualification from driving of between 2 and 5 years, at the discretion of the court. This further period of disqualification from driving does not commence until after you have completed any existing periods of disqualification (or from the date you are convicted if these prior disqualifications are already expired).

Secondly, this offence involves the additional, aggravating circumstance of deliberately disobeying the court’s previous order of disqualification from driving. The court expects compliance with its orders. One of the ways it protects its powers to compel compliance is to impose severe punishments on those who disregard its orders. Thus, you can expect to receive a reasonably harsh penalty, even for a first offence and even for a relatively minor case (for example, driving your car from off the roadside outside your home into your garage, etc).

Repeated convictions from disqualified driving (especially when the offences occur within a relatively short period of time) will invariably result in a sentence of imprisonment. In our experience, this may occur in as little as the third or fourth conviction.


Are there any Defences?

From the outset, is important to emphasise that being unaware that you had been disqualified from driving is categorically not a defence. This is characterised as a mistake of law and ignorance (or confusion) about the law is almost never a defence.

One possible defence is to be driving for a “sudden or extraordinary emergency.” This defence only arises in the rarest of cases and is a complicated defence to pursue.

To successfully raise this defence, you must find yourself in a situation where the only way to avoid a “sudden or extraordinary emergency” is to drive. The test is an objective one and your decision to drive is measured against what an “ordinary person possessing ordinary power of self-control” would do in the circumstances. In other words, the court will consider how an ordinary person, possessed with ordinary power of self-control would reasonably be expected to act in the sudden emergency then being confronted.

This test usually involves considering all other options available at the time the emergency arose (such as calling emergency services; getting a taxi, or Uber; telephoning home doctor; calling on a family member, friend, or neighbour to drive, etc) and eliminating them as appropriate courses of action, given the surrounding circumstances.

The act of driving must also be proportionate to the level of emergency presented. Given the nature of a disqualified driving charge, the emergency will probably involve a life-threatening situation. Anything short of this is unlikely to justify the decision to drive.

Suffice it to say that this is a difficult (but not impossible) defence to rely on to justify driving whilst disqualified from doing so.

Should you find yourself charged with a disqualified driving offence, it is important to get expert legal advice.


What do you charge?

We have fixed fees for everything.  Please click here for our prices.

If I contacted you what would occur?

If you contact us then Steven Brough the firm’s founder or our office manager Belinda Smyth will take the call or receive the email. They have 40 years legal experience between them, we can provide immediate legal assistance and answer any questions you have. We will discuss your case, provide guidance and send a quote by email with additional relevant information about your charge, all at no cost.

If you want to engage us then it’s easy, there is a form you can complete and email back or complete online. If you don’t want to engage us or want to engage another firm that’s fine, you won’t be hassled and at worst you will just have more information about your evasion charge. Once engaged one of our lawyers will go through your matter and contact you to discuss what the best way forward is to achieve the best results. Every one of our lawyers are very experienced with thousands of courts appearances between them.


How do I get more help or engage you to act for me? 

We have been operating since 2010 undertaking Disqualified Driving Charges throughout South East Queensland.

If you want to engage us or just need further information or advice then you can either;

  1. Use our contact form and we will contact you by email or phone at a time that suits you
  2. Call us on 1300 952 255 seven days a week, 7am to 7pm
  3. email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  4. Visit our main website page

We cover all courts in South East Queensland from the Gold Coast to Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast and out to Toowoomba.  We have 6 offices in South East Queensland to assist people. The offices are located at:


Bluedog Business Centre - Level 1, 16 McDougall Street, Milton 4064

Phone: 0730677017 


Corporate Centre One - Level 15, 2 Corporate Court, Bundall 4217

Phone: 0756132683

Sunshine Coast

Suite 4, 66 Duporth Avenue, Maroochydore 4558

Phone: 1300 952 255


Ipswich Corporate Office - 16 East Street, Ipswich 4305

Phone: 0734850147


M1 Business Centre - Level 2, 3972 Pacific Highway, Loganholme 4129

Phone: 0736680683 


North Brisbane Serviced Offices - 3/22-24 Strathwyn Street, Brendale 4500

Phone: 0734850184

We are a no pressure law firm, we are happy to provide information to assist you, if you want to engage us then great, if not then you at least have more information about your disqualified driving charge. You won’t be chased or hounded to engage us.  If you do engage us then most of the time you won’t need to even come into our office. Remember its critical you get advice before going to court, a disqualified driving charge charge will have an impact on you, your family and your employment or business.  


Need more information?

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Last modified on Thursday, 14 April 2022 01:25