Ask LH: Can I Be Fined For Driving On A Just-Expired Driver’s Licence?

Ask LH: Can I Be Fined For Driving On A Just-Expired Driver’s Licence?

Hey Lifehacker, I just got booked while driving with an expired licence — it expired on the 13th and I was fined on the 18th. If I’m only five days over, couldn’t they just give out a warning instead? And shouldn’t they send a reminder notice? Thanks, Not Fine With The Fine

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We’ve answered similar questions in the past and the answer is always the same: in short, you need to suck it up. It is your responsibility to renew your licence by the due date. The absence of a “reminder notice” is not a valid excuse — the expiry date is right there on your licence, after all.

Unfortunately, the recent expiry is unlikely to grant you much leeway with police: the fine remains the same whether your licence expired yesterday or two years ago. Plus, let’s be honest: it’s not like you were on your way to renew your licence. If the cops didn’t catch you then, you might have been driving around for weeks without realising.

Unless there were mitigating circumstances — responding to a life-or-death emergency, for example — attempting to contest the fine at court will almost certainly end badly for you. I wouldn’t be surprised if you got slugged with court costs and an offender levy in addition to the original fine.

In the future, it might be wiser to plump for a longer licence: most states and territories allow drivers to renew their unrestricted licence for one, three or five years. While this costs more in the short term, you’ll save money overall and won’t need to remember the renewal date quite so often.

Cheers Lifehacker

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  • I wouldn’t consider 5 days to be “just expired” anyway, that’s more 1 or 2 days at the most. I do remember getting a license renewal reminder in the mail though.

  • OH and make sure you update your address with whichever branch of government issued your license (in vic it’s vicroads) if you have moved. Not having your current address to send a renewal to is not an excuse, I believe you have a legal obligation to inform them of a change of address.

  • How did you miss the deadline? i dont know what it’s like in other states but in SA, a license renewal notice is sent out two months in advance. Maybe you can get away with one or two days over tops but really there is no excuse when you have known for at least a month that your license is due to be renewed.

  • Help yourself by programming it into something like Google Calendar, set it send you an email a month before, then a week before and a day or 2 before the renewal date, I do that with everything like that, rego, Passports, Birthdays, Anniversary… Anything that could get expensive or painful if you forget.

  • I got done for expired license once by 3 days, it just slipped my mind, but it was my fault and I do accept responsibility, but damn $506 (in NSW) for an expired license is quite a steep fine, when compared to speeding & alcohol offences.

  • Having a driver’s licence is a privilege not a right. You need to prove to the world you are responsible to be able to drive a machine that kills more Aussie people in a year than sharks do in a lifetime.

    By failing to keep your licence current, you are failing that responsibility test in a big way.

  • Dear LH, I’m stupid and want to be forgiven for not being able to adhere to basic laws.

    Is there anything I can do to continue being stupid without learning my lesson?

    Sir Stupids.

  • License is like milk expiry date for government. Once you gone past that date, it is absolutely no good. It also implies you lost any ability to do what you could before.
    The government could have chosen 21 days grace period or immediate fine (revenue!!)
    Guess which one they went for?

    • Why 3 weeks for a grace period though. You have at least 12 months notice of when it’s due to expire.

    • What’s the point of having an expiry date if you’re just going to add a 21 day grace period to it? That just means the actual expiry will be 21 days after whatever it says.

  • you could not get a stock pic of a cop asking for a licence.

    What cop is wearing purple?

  • Seeing a lot more questions which boil down to “I only sort of broke the law, why should I have to face the consequences of being an adult?”

    Might just be me, but typically, people I know, their licence expires shortly after their birthday, does anyone else find this?

      • haha yeah that was my point, sarcasm is lost on the internets. I know that I have to renew my licence shortly after my birthday, I don’t need the government holding my hand with a renewal notice

  • a FABULOUS cop

    edit: This was in response to unknown_101 but reply didn’t work correctly

  • Some people just don’t want to take responsibility for themselves. And others are remarkably stupid too.

    An expired licence is just that – expired, not valid anymore, which means the holder is driving illegally, which means they should expect to be fined. The expiry date is a fixed date, which means it can’t be extended at all.

    Now, that wasn’t hard, was it?

  • I wonder what the question would be if NFWTF had had an at-fault accident. “Dear LH, I rolled through a stop sign and got T-boned, but my licence was expired by 5 days, now my insurer is refusing to pay! Shouldn’t they give me a little bit of leeway? While we’re on the subject of other people taking responsibility for me, why should I have to pay for damage to SOMEONE ELSE’S CAR? It’s not even mine, why should I have to pay?”

    • 1 if you licence was expired when you drove broke the law (again) and rolled into a intersection when it was not safe to do so… your insurance does not cover you as you breached the standard T&C of your insurance (ie, must have a valid licence)
      2 you pay because you are at fault.
      3 I’m guessing you are being facetious… but its hard to tell because of the amount of fucking idiots on the road, online and on earth.

  • It is stated on the RMS website that a license can be renewed upto 5 months after it has expired. Though, how one might get to the registry in order to do so is not made clear. Is it legally defensible to be driving directly to a motor registry, for the purpose of renewing said license?

  • Look at all the little know-it-all internet judges. I wonder how many can tell when their license is due for renewal without looking. Now what happens if the renewal letter doesn’t come? Hmmm. Life is not black and white.

    You can ask for any fine to be reviewed if you have a good reason. If you do have a good reason, go here.

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