Unlicensed Driving

information on unlicensed driving in Queensland, why you might be charges,the court process and what penalties might be imposed.


Unlicensed driving is a charge that can cover many different types of situations.  The charge in its simplest form applies to people who have simply forgotten to renew their licence but at its most serious it covers people who have been disqualified from driving by a Queensland court and have been caught driving again.  How serious the offence is and whether a person’s licence will be disqualified depends on the circumstances of the charge.


Why would I be charged with unlicensed driving?

People are charged with unlicensed driving because for one reason or another at the time of their licence status was checked by the police they were not licenced to drive on Queensland roads.

The typical types of unlicensed driving charges include;

  1. Unlicensed driving– applies generally where people have forgotten to renew their licence
  2. Unlicensed driving (SPER suspended) – applies to people who have a debt with the State Penalties Enforcement Registry (SPER) that they haven’t paid and SPER has suspended their licence
  3. Unlicensed driving (demerit point suspended) – applies to people whose licence has been suspended for too many demerit points.  Generally Queensland Transport would have written to a person who exceeded their demerit points and that person has elected a 3 month suspension or failed to elect a good driving behaviour period and their licence was automatically suspended for 3 months.
  4. Unlicensed driving (disqualified by court order) – applies to people whose licence has been disqualified by a court.  This is a very serious charge, for more information visit our disqualified driving webpage


What penalty does an unlicensed driving charge carry?

The court will impose a fine for the offence and depending on the severity of the offence may impose a period of disqualification.  For repeat offenders or more serious offences will look at a range of other penalties up to and including prison.


Will I incur any demerit points if convicted?



Will I lose my licence?

It very much depends on the circumstances of the incident that lead to the unlicensed driving charge.   The table below summaries the disqualification period that may apply


Disqualification Period

Forgot to renew licence or never had a licence

Up to Magistrate, can be no disqualification in appropriate circumstances

Had SPER debt but didn’t pay

1- 6 months

Was demerit point suspended

6 months

Was disqualified by court

2-5 years

If person has previous unlicensed driving charge in last 5 years and was driving because forgot to renew licence or get a licence back

1-6 months


I’m being charged with unlicensed driving and the table above says I will get a disqualification but I need to drive

If the table above indicates a disqualification period then unfortunately the court must impose it.  For SPER suspended drivers or those with a previous unlicensed charge in the last 5 years then the court must impose at least a 1 month disqualification but it can be up to 6 months.

If the charge is driving while demerit point suspended then the court must disqualify a person’s licence for 6 months.


Can I get a work licence or special hardship licence?

No. unfortunately people charged with unlicensed driving cannot apply for a work licence or special hardship licence.   


Is there any way we could negotiate to reduce the charge?

If driving is absolutely critical then there are circumstances when it might be possible to make submissions to the police prosecution service to withdraw the charge.  The police prosecutor does have the power to reduce the charge to one where a licence disqualification is not mandatory.  We have an excellent article on negotiating with a police prosecutor

Factors that the police prosecutor will likely take into account in deciding to accept submissions might include;

  • Circumstances of how you became unlicensed
  • Your traffic and criminal history
  • The impact a mandatory disqualification would have on you
  • How long ago you became unlicensed
  • Your family circumstances


Should I get a lawyer to represent me for the unlicensed driving charge?

Remember you cannot get a work licence or other similar licence if you are charged with unlicensed driving.  If your employment or income is dependent on your ability to drive then it is important to get legal representation to try and ensure the minimum disqualification period possible.

Generally if you simply forgot to renew your licence then you don’t need a lawyer as the court almost never disqualifies a person.  Also with a charge of unlicensed driving while demerit point suspended the court must impose a 6 month disqualification and having a lawyer represent you will not change this.


Engaging Clarity Law to act for you

Engaging us gives you the best chance at obtaining the lowest disqualification period and a fine as low possible.   We are the leading traffic law firm in South East Queensland, everyday our lawyers are in court getting the best outcome for clients.  Just some of the benefits of us acting for you include;

  • we know the magistrates and what they want to hear to give you the best outcome
  • we have good relationships with the police prosecutors meaning we can often have them not object to the court imposing the minimum disqualification period
  • we are there to help you through the process and make everything as stress free as possible, in most cases you will not have to say anything in court
  • engaging us shows the court you are taking your charges seriously
  • your matter will be heard early, often first, you do not have to wait for 20-30 other matters to be heard before you
  • you will be fully informed of what is to happen in court and what this means for you after court
  • unlike the police or the magistrate, we are there to look after you, your privacy and your interests


What courts do you appear in?





Holland Park

Pine Rivers





Sunshine Coast








Gold Coast








Darling Downs




We have offices at;




                Gold Coast




Will I need to come into the office to see you?

We have offices in Brisbane and on the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coasts as well as Brendale, Ipswich and Loganholme but in most cases we can handle everything by email and the phone without you ever having to come into our office.  We are also open outside normal business hours for your convenience.


What do you charge?

We charge a flat upfront fee for our services, that means no hidden charges or unexpected bills.  We don't charge any travelling fees either; if you are in Maroochydore or Southport you will pay the same price as if you are Brisbane.

We are also upfront with our fees, if you look at other law firms few, if any, clearly list how much they are going to charge you.  Clarity Law on the other hand are happy to list our prices as we are sure no other South East Queensland law firm can match our prices and experience. Our prices include;

  • full preparation for court including checking for defences and devising strategy to minimise penalty
  • obtaining traffic history and charge documents
  • drafting submissions for the court
  • arranging for you to attend a driving course (if appropriate)
  • all telephone calls, faxes emails and meetings with you
  • detailed information to you on the likely penalty and information on what will happen at court and afterwards
  • appearing in the court with you to conduct your guilty plea

To see what we will for a guilty plea on a unlicensed driving charge click here


If I contacted you what would occur?

If you contact us then Steven Brough the firms 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 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 information or engage you to act for me?

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. Click here to select a time for us to call you back

We have also written an excellant article called the Essential Guide to Unlicensed Driving that can provice much more information.


This article general information only and not legal advice and is written subject to our disclaimer that can be read by clicking here

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