Driving Whilst Disqualified

More than 7,000 people in the UK are convicted of driving while disqualified annually. This is a serious offence which carries a possible custodial sentence of six months in prison – so it is essential to get expert legal advice as soon as you are arrested or hear you are being summonsed.

Direct access barrister Marcus Croskell is a specialist motoring offence lawyer with extensive experience of defending people charged with the whole range of driving offences, including driving while disqualified. Here is a look at the law in this area, including the introduction of tough new penalties for drivers who cause death or serious injury through driving while disqualified.

Reasons for Driving Bans

There are a number of reasons why a driver may be facing a driving ban from being caught driving while over the alcohol limit or under the new drug-drive laws, speeding, etc or being caught as a so-called “totter”, i.e. reaching 12 points.

It may be possible to argue in court that you should not be banned and it is for this reason that it is always advisable to seek advice even when getting standard 3 point type offence to avoid becoming at risk of reaching 12 points.  See my articles on having too many penalty points and special reasons for more details.

It may also possible to apply for a driving disqualification to be lifted/shortened.  Further information is available here about reducing a long ban. If you want to try to keep your licence/shorten a disqualification, it is vital to get expert legal representation.

What Happens When Drivers Are Caught Defying Bans

Once a driver has been disqualified, if they decide to risk driving in defiance of the ban, it is highly likely at some point they will be caught – they could be recognised by local police or by people who know them and are aware of the ban. Also automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) is used across the UK and enables law enforcement authorities to check numbers if there is suspicion over potential criminal activity.

Driving Whilst Disqualified


When motorists are caught driving while disqualified, this is an arrestable offence – this means they are normally arrested, taken back to police station and fingerprinted, searched etc. Usually they will be bailed to attend magistrates' court – but a driver could be refused bail and held in custody if there is a fear of them committing further crimes.  Serial offenders for driving whilst disqualified are often punished harshly, so there is real risk of a party failing to attend court.

Court Appearances and Sentencing

There is a maximum sentence of six months imprisonment and an unlimited fine and you are also likely to receive a further period of disqualification.

When the case comes to court, it is an “absolute” offence – this means the prosecution only has to prove that you were driving. Even if you argue you did not realise you were committing the offence or had a good reason to do it, you are still guilty in law.

However could be mitigating factors/special reasons – for instance if someone was banned after totting and did not attend court so did not know about the ban, or if they were just moving the car a short way or were reacting to an emergency. An expert motoring lawyer can fully explain the circumstances to the court on your behalf.

Causing Death or Serious Injury by Driving While Disqualified

There has been recent changes with new offences under the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 which carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison for causing death, which is a case that can only be tried in Crown Court. In particular, with the advent of the new offence of causing serious injury whilst disqualified, there is substantial sentence available to the court of up to 4 years.  The prison sentence itself will not mean the ban is avoided.  The Court has the power to delay the coming into effect of the ban until the release date.  This makes sense from a public policy point of view, but means the driver’s sentence will continue well on after release.

Marcus Croskell is an expert barrister specialising for over a decade in road traffic offences.  If you need advise and assistance with your legal problem, then do not hesistate to contact him by EMAIL HERE or on 0843 886 2603.