Last updated 15 February 2019

It is an offence to drive a motor vehicle on a road without a valid licence, or to allow another person known to be unlicensed to drive a motor vehicle on a road (s 78 Transport Operations (Road Use Management) Act 1995 (Qld) (TORUM Act)). The licence can be issued in another state of Australia or in another country, however, if the person takes up residency in Queensland, the non-Queensland licence cannot be used once the person has been in Queensland for three months (reg 128(6) Transport Operations (Road Use Management—Driver Licensing) Regulation 2010 (Qld) (Licensing Regulation)). Also, if the person is disqualified from driving by any court in Australia, the non-Queensland licence cannot be used in Queensland even though it may be still valid in the state or country where it was issued (for a definition of ‘valid’ see reg 128(1) and sch 9 of the Licensing Regulation).

A wide range of penalties exists depending on the circumstances of the offence. For example, if a person is driving without a licence because the person has been disqualified from driving by a court, a maximum penalty of 60 penalty units ($7833) or 18 months imprisonment applies, as well as a mandatory disqualification from driving for two to five years (s 78(3)(a) TORUM Act). Driving while disqualified by a court is regarded by the courts as a serious offence, as it is a form of contempt of the court’s order. It is not unusual to see imprisonment imposed for a second or subsequent offence. For other unlicensed driving offences, the penalty applicable is a maximum fine of 40 penalty units or 12 months imprisonment and, depending on the offence, disqualification from one to six months. An infringement notice can be issued at the discretion of police for this type of offence, which stipulates lesser fines. This discretion arises provided the person has not been convicted of unlicensed driving in the last five years (s 78(1A) TORUM Act). Various mandatory periods of disqualification for driving unlicensed in different circumstances are set out in ss 78(3)(a) to (i) of the TORUM Act.

When charging an individual with this offence, a person will be told through the charge process in what circumstances the unlicensed driving offence was committed and, as a result, will be able to determine any mandatory disqualification period.