Driving while disqualified

Driving while disqualified

An individual who is disqualified by a court from holding or obtaining a driving licence is prohibited from driving any motor vehicle on a road for the period of disqualification imposed by the court.

Any driving licence held by the individual is revoked from the day of disqualification and it will be mandatory to apply for the return of the licence from the Drivers Vehicle and Licensing Authority (DVLA) before the end of the disqualification period.

Occasionally a person is not only disqualified for a certain period of time but until an extended driving test is passed. If subject to this requirement to take a test of competence, the individual may drive once the actual disqualification is at an end but only if supervised and displaying ‘L’ plates on the vehicle.

Driving a motor vehicle on the road while disqualified from holding or obtaining a licence is an offence under s 103 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 (RTA 1988). It is a summary only offence meaning that it can only be tried by the magistrates’ court however if associated with more serious offences it may be committed to Crown Court under s 40 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988. The offence will appear on the indictment along with the more serious matters if they arise out of the same set of circumstances.

There is a time limit of three years to bring proceedings for this offence with the caveat that proceedings must be initiated within six months from the date the prosecutor acquired sufficient evidence to prosecute.

Burden of Proof

The prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that the person was driving and that he was disqualified. The prosecution does not have to prove the person’s knowledge of either the disqualification or that he was on a road. An individual can be disqualified in his absence by the court, but lack of knowledge does not provide a defence. A statutory declaration can be made to the court to the effect that he did not know of the proceedings leading to his disqualification and requesting that the conviction and sentence be set aside. However, even if the court allows this to happen, the disqualification remains valid until the conviction and sentence is set aside.


The maximum penalty is a level five fine (£5000) and six months imprisonment. The court may disqualify an individual for this offence for any period and impose an extended driving test. The driving licence must be endorsed with penalty points. If no disqualification is imposed, the court will impose six penalty points. Since this offence has disregard for a court order it is always regarded seriously by the courts although further aggravating and mitigating factors will be considered.