ARSRPE Conference Paper Database

A Survey of Unlicensed Driving Offenders

Drink/Drug Driving


This paper reports the findings of a survey of 309 unlicensed driving offenders interviewed at the Brisbane Magistrates Court. A wide range of offenders participated in the study, including: disqualified and cancelled drivers; expired licence holders; drivers without a current or appropriate licence; and those who had never been licensed. The results suggest that unlicensed drivers should not be viewed as a homogenous group. Significant differences exist between offender types in terms of their socio-demographic characteristics; driving history; whether they were aware of being unlicensed; and their behaviour while unlicensed.

Among some offenders, unlicensed driving appears to be indicative of a more general pattern of non-conformity; almost two-thirds of the disqualified and never licensed drivers had prior criminal convictions. While many offenders limited their driving while unlicensed, others continued to drive frequently. Moreover, almost one-third of the sample continued to drive unlicensed after being detected by the police. While there was some evidence that offenders attempted to drive more cautiously while unlicensed, this was not consistent with other aspects of their behaviour. For example, almost one-quarter of the offenders admitted driving at some time when they thought they were over the legal alcohol limit.

The results highlight the need to enhance current policies and practices to counter unlicensed driving. In particular, there is a need to examine current enforcement practices since over one third of the participants reported being pulled over by the Police while driving unlicensed and not having their licence checked.