What Is the Difference Between a Suspended and Disqualified License? (Victoria)

What Is the Difference Between a Suspended and Disqualified License? (Victoria)A suspended license means that you cannot drive for a specified amount of time. You get the ability to drive back after the period of suspension ends, usually automatically.

A disqualified license, on the other hand, means that you cannot drive at all. A disqualified license occurs when a license is cancelled. A cancelled license essentially no longer exists. There is no automatic time period when you get your license back like a suspended license. Instead, you must apply to get a new license after a license is cancelled, and you can often only apply after a set period of time.

If you're license has been suspended or disqualified, one of our expert traffic lawyers can help, contact us on 03 9733 2344 to request a free consultation.

Suspended License

The court can suspend your license if you violate certain traffic laws. The suspension can be automatic in some cases, or it can be imposed as part of penalties associated with violating certain laws. The following violations will generally result in automatic suspension.

  • Driving 45km/h or more over the posted speed limit
  • Driving 145km/h or more in a speed limit zone of 110km/h (including a requirement for vehicle impoundment)
  • Being charged with certain serious criminal offences, including murder, attempted murder, gross violence, or serious injury due to a motor vehicle
  • Drinking and driving offences, including refusing to take a breath or drug test

A license can also be suspended for failing to pay fines. In general, this type of suspension is treated more leniently compared to other reasons for having your license suspended.

Suspension periods can vary a great deal—from just a month or two to several years. In general, if your license is suspended or disqualified in any state in Australia, you cannot drive in another state.

When an immediate suspension is imposed, a driver must turn over their license to the police officer who issued the notice. In some serious cases, drivers may need to appeal to the Magistrates’ Court to get their license reinstated.

Disqualified License

When a driver is disqualified, their license is cancelled. A disqualified license is often the result of a guilty finding involving the dangerous use of a vehicle. In fact, based on the Sentencing Act 1991, the court is required to cancel a driver’s license if someone is found guilty or is convicted of a serious motor vehicle offence.

Below are a few minimum periods of disqualification for certain serious offences in Victoria. There is no maximum period of disqualification.

Serious Motor Vehicle Offense Minimum Period of Disqualification
Dangerous or negligent driving while pursued by police 12 months
Manslaughter arising out of driving a motor vehicle 18 months
Negligently causing serious injury with a motor vehicle 18 months
Reckless exposure of an emergency worker to danger with a motor vehicle 18 months
Offences involving alcohol while operating a motor vehicle that results in serious injury 12 months

If a person has been disqualified from obtaining a driver’s license or learner’s permit, they may need to apply to the Magistrates’ Court to become eligible for a license.

If the disqualifying event was alcohol-related, then the driver may be required to obtain an alcohol interlock as part of the process to regain their full license. In addition, those who were disqualified for alcohol must also have a zero concentration of alcohol present in their bloodstream while driving for at least the first three years of regaining permission to drive. That period may be longer if the court orders.

Consequences for Driving While Suspended

If someone is caught driving while suspended, they can face fines. If those fines are not paid, then a driver could end up in jail.

If you are caught driving on a suspended license, then the maximum penalty is ten units. A unit is a measure used to determine the amount payable for a fine. The value of each unit between 1 July 2023 and 30 June 2024 is $192.31, which means the maximum penalty for this period is $1,923.10. The value of a unit is adjusted for inflation each year.

You can usually pay the fine outright, pay it by a date certain in the future, or request that the court put you on a payment plan.

Consequences of Driving While Disqualified

If you drive while disqualified, you may face immediate jail time. The maximum penalty is four months in jail for the first offence. The potential jail time increases for subsequent offences.


A suspended license is less serious compared to a disqualified license. In most cases, your license will be reinstated after a suspension period when your license is suspended. License suspension will often arise from excessive speed charges, certain serious criminal charges, and some drink-driving or drug-driving offences.

License disqualification arises when serious charges arise related to driving a motor vehicle. Drivers must apply to have their license reinstated once it has been disqualified.

Regardless of which type of driving restriction you might be facing, speaking with a criminal defence lawyer about your rights and options may be a good idea.

Resources and Further Reading

  1.     https://www.legalaid.vic.gov.au/driving-while-suspended
  2.     https://www.legislation.vic.gov.au/in-force/acts/road-safety-act-1986/213
  3.     https://www.vicroads.vic.gov.au/licences/drink-driving-drug-driving-and-excessive-speed-offences/immediate-licence-suspension
  4.     http://classic.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/vic/consol_act/sa1991121/s89.html
  5.     http://classic.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/vic/consol_act/sa1991121/s87p.html
  6.     http://classic.austlii.edu.au//au/legis/vic/consol_act/ca195882/
  7.     https://www.legalaid.vic.gov.au/penalty-units#:~:text=Penalty%20units%20are%20used%20to,2023%20to%2030%20June%202024.

Staff Writer

Emma is a staff writer at Josh Smith Legal with a law and arts double degree. She expertly bridges the gap between legal intricacies and clear communication.

Recent posts

How To Contest A Speeding Fine In Victoria

Receiving a ticket for speeding is unpleasant, so learn how to contest a speeding fine if you have received one. A fine may be reviewed and dismissed in some situations, sparing you from having to pay it. You can choose to go to court or ask for a review of your case. You can obtain

Is It Illegal To Eat Or Drink While Driving In Victoria?

It is not illegal to eat or drink while driving in Victoria as long as what you’re eating or drinking is easy to consume, doesn’t create any significant distractions, and isn’t alcoholic. Obviously, driving in a way that’s safe for you and the motorists and pedestrians around you has to be the main priority, but