Western Australia prohibits the driving of a motor vehicle by a person who is not duly authorized. The prohibition extends to employing or permitting another person to drive while not authorized.
The new law which applies effective July 1, 2009 empowers the police to impound the vehicle for unlicensed driving. The impoundment is immediate and stays in force for 28 days regardless of the ownership of the car. Thus, even if the vehicle was only borrowed or used for commercial purposes it will still be impounded.
There are many ways by which unlicensed driving is committed. The offence includes driving:
However, a driver will not be charged for driving without license if he simply forgot to bring it with him or that he drove with an expired license. Learner drivers driving without an instructor, provisional drivers in their first six months who violated the rule against night time driving (between midnight and 5 am), drivers whose licenses have been suspended for failure to pay their fines and drivers who never had a license will not be charged and penalized for unlicensed driving but may be subject to other penalties.
The penalties for unlicensed driving are quite stiff. Costs of impoundment for 28 days are around $900 which includes the stowage and storage fees of the vehicle. Repeat offenders may face up to 3 months of impoundment. The fine for a first offence is $300 and $600 for every subsequent offence. In some cases, 18 months maximum imprisonment may also imposed.
The police will have to prove the existence of all three elements to successfully prosecute a person for driving unlicensed:
Person was driving a motor vehicle;
Based on these elements the driver who wants to object to the charge against him can build up his legal defence or strategy. Some of the defences we also hear in court are duress and medical emergency situations.