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Driving whilst disqualified is a serious offence, as it effectively constitutes a defiance of, and contempt for, an order of the court. If convicted of the offence, you are likely to be prosecuted for both driving whilst disqualified and driving without insurance.
Driving whilst disqualified potentially carries a sentence of up to 6 months in prison for the most serious offending and at the bottom of the scale a court can impose a fine, as well as a further period of disqualification.
A person is guilty of driving whilst disqualified if, while disqualified for holding or obtaining a licence, he obtains a licence, or drives a motor vehicle on a road. A driving ban covers all motor vehicles so you cannot drive a car, or ride a motorbike or moped during your disqualification period.
You can be banned (disqualified) from driving if you are either convicted of a driving offence, or you accumulate 12 or more penalty points within a 3 year period (totting up). The court will normally issue and post to you a Summons and a Notification of Proposed Disqualification, instructing you where and when you must attend court. The court will then sentence you and decide how long the disqualification will last, based on how serious they think the offence is.
The offence can only be committed if you have been banned from driving following a court process, where an order has been made removing your licence. A driving ban means that a driver who has been disqualified from driving may not, for a given period of time, drive any vehicle for any reason, under any circumstances. This offence is entirely different to driving otherwise than in accordance with your licence, where for example, your licence has not been renewed, or doesn’t cover the vehicle you were driving etc.
Likewise, an age prohibition on driving does not constitute an offence of driving whilst disqualified (by reason of age), but it does prohibit a person driving a vehicle on a road otherwise than in accordance with a licence authorising him to do so.
If you have been disqualified following a court process it is no defence to say that you ‘thought’ your disqualification had expired. Likewise, it is no defence for a person disqualified in their absence to claim that they did not know that they had been disqualified, even if you were unaware of the proceedings, but this may amount to a Special Reason; for this reason, the courts are reluctant to disqualify offenders in their absence.
As a driver, you have an obligation to ensure that your licence is valid. If you have or suspect that you have been disqualified from driving, you can find the date your driving ban ends here:
If your disqualification was for less than 56 days, the DVLA will return your driving licence as soon as your ban comes to an end. If your ban was for longer than 56 days, your driving licence will have been automatically revoked, which means you’ll need to apply for it to be re-instated. If you are not required to retake your theory and practical driving test, you can resume driving as soon as your disqualification period comes to an end and you’ve had your licence returned.
Under certain circumstances, you can apply to reduce your disqualification period. For example, you can ask the court to reduce your disqualification period after you've been banned from driving for 2 years, if the disqualification was for fewer than 4 years.
Mutual Recognition of driving disqualifications between the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland (RoI)
On 28 January 2010, a mutual recognition of driving disqualifications between the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland came into force. Effectively, residents of the United Kingdom who are disqualified from driving in the Republic of Ireland (RoI) are subject to mutual recognition of the driving disqualification by having their disqualification recognised in the United Kingdom as well. The process is exactly the same for residents of the RoI who are disqualified from driving in the United Kingdom as their disqualification is recognised in Ireland.
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