Driving while suspended

Driving while suspended

If your licence is suspended, it is put on hold for a fixed period.

You must not drive while your licence is suspended. There are no exceptions. You face serious penalties if you are caught driving.

You will have to go to VicRoads to re-apply for it after the suspension period ends.

What is ‘driving while suspended’?

Driving while suspended means that the police have caught you driving after your licence was suspended. Your licence would have been suspended by the court, police, VicRoads or the sheriff.

If the police charge you with an offence of ‘drive while suspended’ you will get a charge sheet. Look at the ‘Details of the charge’ to see what the police officer wrote about your offence. The magistrate refers to this in the courtroom.

There are also penalties if the sheriff suspended your licence for not paying fines and you get caught driving. However, the court will treat the offence less seriously.

Going to court for driving while suspended

For more information about how to prepare for the court hearing see Going to court for traffic offences.

Possible defences

The prosecution has to prove that:

  • you were driving on a road
    and
  • your licence was suspended.

Whether you are guilty depends on the exact facts and circumstances of your case.

You may have a defence if it was an honest and reasonable mistake that you thought you were allowed to drive. The magistrate will decide if they think you made a reasonable mistake.

However, the magistrate can still suspend your licence even if they believe that you did not know about the suspension and find you not guilty. They can order you to serve the original licence suspension that you did not know about.

Penalties if you are found guilty

As well as any penalties imposed by the magistrate, what happens in court goes on your criminal record.

Fines

The magistrate may give you a fine with penalty units. You can get:

  • up to 30 penalty units for a first offence of driving while suspended
  • up to 240 penalty units if you have been found guilty of driving while suspended before.

The maximum penalty for drive while suspended by the sheriff is a fine of ten penalty units.

One penalty unit is about $140.

Losing your licence

The magistrate can choose to extend the suspension period. Most magistrates will choose to do this and add an extra suspension period to your licence. This is because you have not taken your previous suspension order seriously.

The magistrate can also:

  • cancel your licence or permit for a certain period of time
  • make a court order that stops you from applying for a licence or permit for a certain amount of time.

If the magistrate cancels your licence for a period of time, you must not drive at all during this time. There are no exceptions.

Jail

The magistrate can choose to send you to jail instead of choosing to give you a fine. You can get up to:

  • four months for a first offence of driving while suspended
  • two years for a second offence or more of driving while suspended.

Other penalties

The magistrate can also choose to place you on a community corrections order.

See Possible outcomes for traffic offences for more information about penalties and other outcomes.

How the magistrate decides what penalties to give

The magistrate looks at:

  • how serious your offence is
  • if you have been found guilty of similar offences before
  • what else is happening in your life.

Get help

Find out how you can get help with traffic offences.