Dear Lifehacker, I received a fine for driving while my vehicle's rego was suspended, of which I had no idea. I moved houses and the letter was returned to sender (because my old housemate is a tool). This happened a day or two after my address changed. Should I have to pay this fine? I think I'm in the right here as I didn't knowingly break any rules. If I'd known my rego was suspended I wouldn't have been driving. Yours, Rego Warrior
I'm curious as to why your vehicle's registration was suspended in the first place? Generally, a suspension or defect notice is only sent out if your vehicle is found to be unroadworthy or breaks registration standards in some way. In other words, it sounds like you were driving around in a vehicle that the law considers to be unsafe.
Even in the unlikely even that you were oblivious to the problem, the onus is still on you to get things fixed. For example, failing to notice that your brake lights are broken is not an acceptable excuse if you get caught. Likewise, claiming that you never received a suspension notice in the post is unlikely to fly in court; especially if your car has an obvious defect.
As we've noted in the past, there are worse things that can happen when driving around in an unregistered vehicle. Imagine if you were involved in an accident -- your compulsory third party insurance would have been invalid, which means you'd be personally liable for any injuries caused. In the grand scheme of things, a fine isn't too terrible a price to pay.
In future, we advise intermittently checking your car's registration status if it's an old and/or problematic model. You can do this either by ringing up your state's transport authority or via the below websites:
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