What happens if you have been charged with Driving whilst Suspended?

Driving while suspended or disqualified can be found under the same section of the Road Safety Act being section 30. The same overall sentencing penalties may apply, however driving whilst suspended is the less serious charge of the two. Your driver’s licence can be suspended for a number of reasons ranging from outstanding fines up to Court orders.

When dealing with a Driving whilst Suspended charge, it is important to consider the following:

  • Were you aware that your licence was suspended?
  • How far into the suspension were you when you were detected?
  • What was your licence originally suspended for?
  • Are there any aggravating circumstances apart from driving while suspended?
  • If pleading guilty, how can we mitigate your sentence?

Driving while suspended is one of the most common offences that the MK Law team deal with. The issue that must be noted is that this offending can be classified as a Hoon offence and consequently may render a driver liable to having their vehicle impounded or forfeited. Driving offences pose a high risk to other drivers on the road, hence it is important to understand the offence and obtain expert legal advice if you have been charged to ensure that if found guilty, the overall sentence is kept to a minimum.

Elements of the Offence

The elements that must be proven are that:

  1. You were driving or in charge of a motor vehicle
  2. Your license was suspended at the time of driving


A person found guilty of driving whilst suspended is liable for a maximum fine of 240 penalty units or imprisonment for a maximum of 2 years.

Whilst imprisonment is a possible sentencing disposition, the Courts are unlikely to impose a sentence of imprisonment unless the accused has a history of driving while suspended or disqualified, or if the offending was aggravated by additional offences such as speeding, dangerous driving or drink/drug driving.

MK Law can provide 24/7 legal advice regarding charges of this nature by calling 1800 130 120 immediately.


I have received a notice of Impoundment / Forfeiture. Can I fight this?

Yes, an application by police to impound or forfeit your vehicle can be resisted.

Under the Hoon laws, Police have the power to impound or forfeit vehicles to the state if they believe the vehicle has been used in the commission of an offence or if an accused has continued to commit applicable driving offences.

It is essential to get a criminal lawyer involved if you have received a notice of impoundment or forfeiture order as these can be resisted in Court. Under some circumstances, a Court may refuse the application by the Prosecution and release the vehicle.

Can I plead Not Guilty if I was unaware my licence was suspended?

There are a number of circumstances in which a licence can be suspended. These include:

  • Court order, or by electing to have an infringement notice determined by a Magistrate
  • Infringement notices for speeding, drink and drug driving
  • Unpaid fines

In all of the above cases, notice must be given to the individual whose licence is attached to the offence. It is difficult to prove that an individual has not been advised of the status of their licence, hence why the available defence of an honest and reasonable mistake is unlikely to succeed in a Court unless exceptional circumstances exist.

Under s 30A of the Road Safety Act 1986, if the Court finds you not guilty due to not being aware that your licence was suspended, the Magistrate may still impose a loss of licence in substitution for any period of suspension which was in force during the period the person was unaware. The maximum suspension period that can be imposed is the time between when the suspension initially began and when the person became aware. If the suspension has already lapsed prior to the person being made aware, then the original suspension time is reinstated.

Driving while suspended is a strict liability offence, meaning the Prosecution only need to prove that you were driving and at the time you were driving, your licence was suspended, and you were not authorised to drive. Our expert criminal lawyers can assist in determining whether you have a case to plead not guilty and contest the charge.

What if my licence has been suspended due to unpaid fines?

If you have outstanding fines with Fines Victoria, the Director has the power under s 91 of the Fines Reform Act 2014 to suspend a person’s driver’s licence as well as their car registration for a period of time until the Fines are dealt with either by full payment or payment arrangements.

A notice of suspension is made via post. If is the defendants burden to prove that they did not receive this correspondence. Usually, the Courts take the view that if the details were incorrect on the VicRoads database, then the driver has failed in their responsibility of keeping their address details updated. 

Am I Facing Licence Suspension if Found Guilty?

Similar to driving whilst disqualified, licence loss is not mandatory. A Magistrate has the discretion as to whether they interfere with your licence for a further period.

In circumstances where you have been caught driving whilst suspended in addition to further offending such as speeding or drink driving, the Magistrate is more likely to make an order on your licence as a penalty to deter further offending. It is up to the Court to weigh up the risk you pose to the community if allowed to continue to drive.

MK Law - Am I Facing Licence Suspension if Found Guilty?

What Happens Next?

A Court may find that a reasonable and honest mistake has occurred in your case. As such you will in all likelihood be still found guilty of the offence and as a result the sentencing penalties may be lower on the scale compared to other cases where a person has decided to drive without a licence intentionally. 

For these reasons, it is important that you discuss your options with our experienced criminal lawyers. They will talk through your options and determine whether you have a valid defence and if not, advise you on the likely outcomes and what is needed to mitigate the overall sentence. Have someone in your corner to defend your licence and obtain the best outcome available at law, call our office today on 1800 130 120.


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Phone: 1800 130 120
Email: marcus@mklawfirm.com.au