What is disqualification from driving?
Disqualification from driving is a penalty that may be imposed by a court when you are convicted of an offence related to driving a motor vehicle.
The effect of you being disqualified is that you are not allowed to drive for the period of the disqualification. This period is set by the court.
Disqualification is sometimes referred to as licence “suspension”.
For more information about when you might be disqualified from driving, see the following road traffic web pages:
What is cancellation of licence?
Cancellation of licence means that your licence is taken away. In order to get your licence back, you must successfully re-apply for a licence from the Department of Transport. You cannot drive until you have been issued with a new licence.
If you are a provisional licence holder (P-Plater), cancellation may occur automatically when you are convicted of certain offences related to driving a motor vehicle. In these cases, you cannot re-apply for a licence until you have waited a certain amount of time.
For more information on when cancellation will occur, see Traffic offence penalties.
When can I drive again after being disqualified?
If you have been disqualified from driving for a period of time, you are allowed to drive again when that period ends. However, it is not always easy to know when your disqualification has ended, especially if you are under more than one period of disqualification, have spent time in prison or you are subject to a “fines suspension”.
When can I drive again if I am under fines suspension?
A “fines suspension” is a licence suspension order you get for failing to pay your fines.
If you are under a fines suspension then working out when you can drive again after being disqualified is more complicated. You should note that:
- If you have become subject to a fine suspension whilst you are under disqualification, even if the period of disqualification ordered by the court has finished, you cannot drive until all the fines associated with your fine suspension are paid and the fine suspension is lifted;
- If, at the time you are disqualified, you are already subject to a fine suspension and the court orders that your period of licence disqualification is to be in addition to ("cumulative" on) any previous suspension, then the period of disqualification will not start to run until all your fine suspension fines are paid and your fine suspension is lifted. During this whole time, your licence will be considered to be under disqualification ordered by the court.
It is not necessarily important for you to know which one of these applies in your case, but it is important to know when you are allowed to drive again. You should always check that you have a valid licence before you drive again. See below under How can I check if I am under disqualification or cancellation?
When can I drive again if I am in prison?
If you are in prison and you are under disqualification, whether your disqualification runs while you are in prison depends on whether the disqualification was imposed under a road traffic law (such as the Road Traffic Act 1974 (WA)) or the Sentencing Act 1995 (WA) and on whether the magistrate or judge who sentenced you said that the disqualification should run after you have finished your prison term.
Generally, if your disqualification was imposed under a road traffic law it will run while you are in prison, unless a magistrate or judge says that it will not. If your disqualification is imposed under the Sentencing Act 1995 (WA), it will not run while you are in prison.
It is important to know when you are allowed to drive again. You should always check that you have a valid licence before you drive.
No matter what your situation, it is always best to check the status of your licence before you drive again. This is especially important because if you drive when you are still under disqualification or when your licence is cancelled, you are committing an offence. See below under the heading What if I drive during the period of disqualification or cancellation?
You can check the status of your licence, including whether you are still under disqualification and whether your licence has been cancelled, by following this link to the Department of Transport website and entering the details requested there. To check whether you are subject to a fines suspension, you can follow this link to the Department of the Attorney General's website.
You should allow two working days for the information at these websites to be updated. If possible, print out the results for your records.
You can also check with the police, or if you think you may have outstanding fines, the Fines Enforcement Registry on 1300 650 235.
Can I apply for an extraordinary driver’s licence?
If you have been disqualified but there is a good reason why you need to be able to drive, you may be able to apply for an extraordinary driver’s licence. You cannot apply for an extraordinary licence if your licence has been cancelled, unless you are also under disqualification.
An extraordinary driver’s licence allows you to drive while you are disqualified, subject to conditions imposed by the court.
You cannot ask for an extraordinary driver’s licence on the same day that you are disqualified. There is a certain amount of time you must wait before you can apply. The length of time depends on the offence that caused you to be disqualified and your prior traffic record. To find out how long you have to wait before applying, you can ask the duty lawyer on the day of your court appearance, or contact your nearest Magistrates Court. The court Registry will also be able to provide you with an application form.
Click here for more information about Extraordinary driver’s licence applications.
It is a serious offence to drive while your licence is under court ordered disqualification or under cancellation.
If you are convicted of this offence, the consequences are that:
- you will be disqualified from driving for at least 9 months on top of any current disqualification;
- you may be fined;
- you may be sent to prison.
You should seek legal advice if you are charged with driving whilst disqualified.
The other consequence of driving while you are disqualified or under cancellation is that you have no third party (personal) insurance, because this attaches to your driver’s licence. If you do not have third party insurance and you injure someone or cause damage to someone else’s property while driving, you are completely responsible for the costs associated with the injury or property damage. For more information about what to do in this situation, see Claim made against you.
Where can I get legal advice if I am charged with an offence?
If you need legal advice about your charge, your plea or about the penalty you are likely to get, you may be able to seek advice from a duty lawyer on the morning of your court appearance, if one is available at the court in which you are appearing. Click here for more information about Legal Aid WA's Duty Lawyer Service.
Alternatively, you can seek advice from your own lawyer. This is best done well before your court appearance so you have a chance to act on any advice you may be given.
Last reviewed: 30/11/2015