Katie Price’s latest motoring transgression has drawn attention to a motoring offence unknown to many: driving whilst disqualified.
The majority of the general population are aware that you can receive a driving disqualification for drink driving, totting up too many penalty points or excessive speeding however driving whilst disqualified is an offence that rarely comes up in the public eye. This is worrying when considering that the penalty for such an offence can be severe, frequently resulting in custodial sentences or community orders.
In Katie Price’s situation, she claimed that she was unaware that her driving ban had not ended as she is ‘bad with paperwork’. This raises the question ‘can I be guilty of an offence if I was mistaken?’ or, perhaps more importantly, ‘can I be guilty if I was unaware of the disqualification?’
The answer is a straightforward and resounding yes! Driving whilst disqualified is what is known as a ‘strict liability offence’; this means that the answer is black and white and intention to commit the offence does not have to be proven – if you drove a vehicle on a public road whilst you were disqualified from driving then you are guilty of committing this offence.
The penalty varies – for a first time offender who had just made a mistake in thinking their disqualification had already ended, as is allegedly the case with Katie Price, then the Court can start off as low as 6 penalty points or by extending the disqualification period by 3 to 6 months. This would come in addition to either a hefty fine or a community order, e.g. a curfew or unpaid work. Price was given a disqualification extension of 3 months and a fine of £1,100; considering what the Court could have imposed, this is a very lenient sentence!
If, however, there is also the presence of aggravating factors, the Court can well and truly throw the book at you! Aggravating factors can include, but are not limited to, repeat offending, driving shortly after the disqualification was imposed, buying a new vehicle during the disqualification period, driving for hire or reward, driving for long distances, carrying passengers or, most obviously, driving badly. In situations like this then the Court would certainly be considering the more serious penalties such as a custodial sentence of up to 6 months in addition to an extended disqualification of up to 18 months.
If any of these situations apply to you or you have been caught driving whilst disqualified we would advise getting in touch with our motoring law experts as soon as possible on 0800 046 3066