A charge of Driving an Unregistered Vehicle may result in significant fines especially for a subsequent offence. As with most driving offences, the Magistrate may record a conviction.
Generally, with a charge of Driving an Unregistered Vehicle, the Police will conduct a field interview. This means they will interview you on the side of the road where they intercept you. And not take you back to the Police station.
Pleading Not Guilty
If you have a defence, you may be able to successfully defend a charge of Driving an Unregistered Vehicle. Potential defences available to you include:
- Factual Dispute
If you intend on pleading guilty to a charge of Drive an Unregistered Vehicle.
Sentencing in the higher courts of VictoriaSentencing in the Magistrates’ Courts of Victoria
- Contact an expert in charges of Driving Unregistered Vehicle on (03) 9670 5111.
- We appear at all courts in Victoria for pleas of guilty, contests, appeals, bail applications, and other legal matters.
- Your first phone conference with us is free.
Which court will the case be heard in?Driving Unregistered Vehicle is a summary offence that is heard at the Magistrates’ Court.
- A man drove his unregistered car on a public highway to go to his office.
- A business woman instructed her shipping guy to drive her unregistered truck on a public road to make a delivery.
- A father towed the family’s unregistered trailer to a public parking lot.
Legal definitionDriving an Unregistered Vehicle is a criminal offence pursuant to section 7 of the Road Safety Act 1986. It is committed by a person who uses a motor vehicle or trailer on a public highway in Victoria which is not registered with VicRoads. The offence also applies to owners or registered operators of unregistered vehicles where they allowed or employed a person to operate them.
A person may also be found guilty of Driving an Unregistered Vehicle if the vehicle has a registration, but it was used in a way which breaches any of the conditions of registration. There may be a reasonable explanation for the wrong-doing or the vehicle may be exempt from registration.
LegislationThe offence of Drive an Unregistered Vehicle is contained in section 7 of the Road Safety Act 1986 (Vic).
Offence if Vehicle or Trailer Not Registered
- A person must not—
unless that motor vehicle or trailer is registered under this Part or exempted from registration under the regulations or is used as specified in a registration permit granted in accordance with the regulations.
- use on a highway a motor vehicle or a trailer; or
- own a motor vehicle or a trailer which is used on a highway—
- A person must not—
- use a motor vehicle or trailer in breach of any condition of its registration; or
- being the registered operator of a motor vehicle or a trailer, permit or allow it to be so used or employ a person to so use it.
- A person who contravenes subsection (1) or (2) is guilty of an offence and liable to a penalty not exceeding—
- in the case of an individual—
- 25 penalty units for a first offence;
- 50 penalty units for a second or subsequent offence;
- in the case of a body corporate—
- 125 penalty units for a first offence;
- 250 penalty units for a second or subsequent offence.
- A person may not be convicted of more than one offence under subsection (1) or subsection (2) in respect of the same circumstances.1
ElementsThe prosecution must establish the following elements beyond reasonable doubt to prove that a person is guilty of Driving an Unregistered Vehicle:
Element 1: The vehicle was a motor vehicle or a trailer.
The accused must have operated a motor vehicle or a trailer to be found guilty of this offence. A motor vehicle is propelled by a motor. It must be a vehicle that is driven, or one that was made for the purpose of being driven, on a highway. One of the exceptions is a motorised wheel-chair with a speed of not more than 10 kilometres that is built to assist a person with injury or disability.
A trailer, on the other hand, is a vehicle that was built for the purpose of being towed. It is usually towed by a motor vehicle but does not include the motor vehicle that is being towed. Therefore, a person using a registered motor vehicle to tow an unregistered trailer may still be found guilty of this offence.
Element 2: The use of the vehicle was done on a highway.
The accused must have operated the motor vehicle or trailer on a highway. This means that the use of the vehicle was done on an open, public area that was primarily built for motor vehicles. Since “highway” means “road” or “road-related area”, this will also include areas that are designated for cyclists and animals, as well as footpaths or nature strips adjacent to a road.
Element 3: The vehicle was unregistered, or was registered but was used not in accordance with the conditions of its registration.
The accused must have either operated d an unregistered motor vehicle or trailer on a highway, or in a way that breaches a condition of its registration. In the case where a motor vehicle or trailer is unregistered, then there should be an Unregistered Vehicle Permit.
If the vehicle was registered but it was operated in such a way that violates a condition of its registration, then this element will still be satisfied. Unless exemptions exist or a reasonable excuse is provided, the prosecution will likely be able to establish this element of Driving Unregistered Vehicle.
Element 4: The accused was using, or was the owner or registered operator of, an unregistered motor vehicle or trailer on a highway.
This element will be established if the accused was the one driving or operating the unregistered vehicle, regardless of who owns the vehicle. Additionally, a registered operator of an unregistered vehicle cannot allow or employ a person to operate it. Doing so will make the registered operator liable and satisfy this element of the offence. Further, if the accused owns or is the registered operator of the unregistered vehicle (even if a different person was operating it at the time of the incident), then this element is also satisfied.
DefencesIf there are inconsistencies with the facts surrounding the allegations, then the offence may be defended on the basis of a factual dispute. Wrongful identification may be used where the accused was not the person driving the vehicle or the owner or registered operator of the vehicle.
Other criminal defences may be applicable depending on the circumstances surrounding the alleged offending.
Questions in cases like this:
- Was the vehicle in fact registered with VicRoads?
- Were you the one operating the vehicle or were you perhaps its owner or registered operator?
- Was the vehicle a motor vehicle that was being used on a highway?
Maximum penaltyIn the case of a person, the penalty that may be imposed by courts for a charge of Driving Unregistered Vehicle is a fine of not more than 25 penalty units (around $4,200) for a first offence. If the offence is was a second or a subsequent offending, the Court may impose penalty that may be imposed is a fine of not more than 50 penalty units (around $8,500).
In the case of a body corporate, a first offences may attract lead to a maximum fine of 125 penalty units (around $21,000). For a second or subsequent offending, the penalty is a fine of not more than 250 penalty units (around $42,000).
 Sentencing Advisory Council. “Road Safety Act 1986 – Section 7: Offence if vehicle or trailer not registered.” SentencingCouncil.vic.gov.au. http://classic.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/vic/consol_act/rsa1986125/s7.html (accessed August 12, 2020)
- Careless Driving
- Culpable Driving Causing Death
- Dangerous Driving
- Dangerous Driving Causing Death or Serious Injury
- Driving a Motor Vehicle When Directed to Stop By Police
- Driving Disqualified
- Driving While Licence Suspended Under Infringements Act 2006
- Duty of Driver, etc. of Motor Vehicle If Accident Occurs
- Duty of Driver etc. of Vehicle That is Not a Motor Vehicle If Accident
- Entering a Level Crossing When a Train or Tram is Approaching
- Forgery of Documents and Identification Marks
- General Duty of Driver or Person in Charge of Motor Vehicle
- Improper Use of Motor Vehicle
- Obtaining Licence By False Statements
- Offence to Alter, Deface or Place Number on Engine of Motor Vehicle
- Offence to Drive High Powered Motor Vehicle
- Offence to Obstruct Person Operating Road Safety Camera or Speed Detector
- Offence to Procure Use of Motor Vehicle by Fraud
- Offence to Provide False or Misleading Information
- Offence to Sell Certain Breath Analysing Instruments
- Probationary Driver – No “P” Plates
- Refuse to Stop
- Speed Trials
- Tampering or Interfering With Motor Vehicle Without Just Cause or Excuse
- Unlicensed Driving