If the police believe you drove a car without a licence or permit that says you may drive, they may charge you with unlicensed driving.
You may be charged with unlicensed driving if:
- you do not have a licence
- your licence expired
- you are using an intestate licence and you have lived in Victoria longer than three months
- you are using an international licence and you have lived in Victoria for longer than six months.
The offence is different from driving if your license is suspended or revoked.
Going to court
The prosecution must prove you drove without a license.
On your charge sheet, the magistrate refers to the ‘Details of the charge’ to find out what the police officer wrote about your offense.
Is going to court my only option?
During the court hearing, the prosecutor will read your statement of alleged facts, and the magistrate will determine your guilt or innocence.
You may receive a less harsh penalty if you plead guilty because the magistrate considers you cooperative.
Plead not guilty
If you believe you did not break the law or disagree with the statement of alleged facts, you must notify the prosecutor before your court date if you plan to plead not guilty. The magistrate will hold a summary case conference when your case is heard in court. Tell the magistrate if you still wish to plead not guilty after the conference. The magistrate will then adjourn your case.
The magistrate will hear evidence from the police and from you when you return to court. It is not enough to say you weren’t aware of the lawbreaking.
Before the hearing, get legal advice if you’re pleading not guilty.
Can I adjourn my hearing?
The staff at the court may be able to help you get an adjournment without having to go into the courtroom.
Driving with an expired licence and driving without a license carries different maximum penalties.
In the case of an expired license or for driving on an interstate or international licence for a longer period than allowed, you can receive a fine of up to ten penalty units.
The fine for driving without a valid licence can reach 60 penalty units.
Your income and expenses, as well as whether you support a family, should be explained to the magistrate.
When you receive a fine, you can pay it at court right away. If you don’t, Fines Victoria will collect the fine from you and will send you a Court fine collection statement. This will tell you how much you owe and when the fine is due.
In the event you are unable to pay the fine in full, you can request a payment plan from Fines Victoria.
Fines Victoria may increase your fine if you don’t pay on time. The court may issue a warrant for your arrest if you don’t pay the fine on time.
Losing your licence
You may be prohibited from applying again for a license for a certain period of time if the magistrate makes an order.
This means that you should not drive at all during this time. There are no exceptions to this rule. For example, you cannot drive to work or pick up your children. There are no special licences that allow you to drive some of the time. Driving while your licence is suspended or cancelled carries very serious penalties.
It is possible that the magistrate will send you to jail instead of giving you a fine. The maximum punishment is as follows:
- one month if your licence has expired
- six months if you have never had a valid licence or you were on an international or interstate licence.
Impounding or immobilising your vehicle
Alternatively, the magistrate may impound or immobilize your vehicle (clamps, steering wheel locks).
The magistrate may also:
- place you on an undertaking to behave well for a certain amount of time
- place you on a community corrections order.
In the absence of an alcohol interlock, what should I do?
You will face stiffer penalties if your licence was cancelled for a drink-driving offence and you failed to apply for a license with an alcohol interlock.
A magistrate could fine you up to 60 penalty units or jail you for up to six months. The vehicle could also be impounded for up to 12 months.
If I’m convicted, what else could happen?
Court convictions may appear on your criminal record, as well as on your VicRoads driving record.
Is there a penalty even if I’m not guilty?
The magistrate can still suspend you even if they find you not guilty and believe you did not know about the suspension. They can order you to serve the original licence suspension.
Is it possible to appeal?
Get legal advice before you decide. You could get a higher penalty if you appeal. You have 28 days to appeal.