How do you know if your drivers’ licence is suspended?
There are a number of ways you can find yourself without a drivers’ licence. The most common are:
- You don’t have a licence because you have not renewed your licence
- You have been disqualified from driving (for example for drink driving)
- Your licence has been suspended.
You usually know if the first two situations apply to you.
- You can check whether your licence is current, by looking at the date, and
- You will usually know if you have been disqualified from driving because you will have been picked up by police and then dealt with by the court.
But people are sometimes unaware that their licence has been suspended.
The grounds for suspension are:
- Not paying a fine (which can mean any sort of fine, not just a traffic fine)
- Accumulating too many points on your licence
- Being caught going more than 40 kilometres over the speed limit.
When your licence is being suspended, you are notified by a letter to your last known address. This is usually the address on your drivers’ licence. If your address is not up to date on your licence, then the letter advising you of the suspension may go to the wrong address. Even if you have the right address on your licence, if you don’t collect and open your mail, you won’t necessarily find out about the suspension.
This can cause serious problems if you are picked up driving while suspended. You can be charged with unlicensed driving and face an additional suspension and a fine. There is also a penalty of imprisonment, although this harsh penalty would not usually be applied.
To prevent problems, it is important to keep your address up to date on your drivers’ licence and to have arrangements in place to collect and open your mail. You will often have some legal options if you act quickly when you receive your notice of suspension. For example you can elect to have a restricted licence instead of a suspension if your licence is being suspended for points, but you if you don’t respond, your licence is suspended automatically.
Traffic law can be complex, and it is a good idea to get legal advice if you are not sure of your rights and obligations. You can contact us for advice about traffic law.