Topics:  david gibson, motorists, sper, suspended licence

Ignorance is no excuse

Drivers have been told that it’s their responsibility to know if their licence has been suspended and to pay any speeding fines.
Drivers have been told that it’s their responsibility to know if their licence has been suspended and to pay any speeding fines. David Nielsen

MANY a motorist has had the unfortunate experience of having their licence suspended by SPER because they failed to pay a fine.

It has become a recurring theme in Gympie magistrates traffic court in recent years, as more and more people front court charged with disqualified driving by SPER. Most of them gave the same explanation to the magistrate of not being notified by the department.

Like many in this situation, Darren McFaul said he didn't know his licence was suspended by SPER for not paying a fine until he was pulled over by police in July 2009. He ended up without a licence for one month.

He, like David Gibson, learned the hard way that once SPER posts a letter, it is assumed the recipient received it.

In November that year, Troy Christie spoke up for all the people who had been charged with driving while suspended by SPER when he stood before the court charged with the offence.

He said the way people were informed of their SPER suspensions was confusing and told the court that was most likely the reason why people kept on having to go to court for this offence.

He asked the magistrate to try to understand why they got confused, but Magistrate Maxine Baldwin explained to the defendant that Queensland Transport could suspend licences for not paying fines or for an accumulation of demerit points.

She said if a person also failed to notify the department of a change of address, it was their own fault.

While she agreed that it was "unfortunate" that people were losing their drivers licences for forgetting to pay fines, "ignorance of the law is no excuse".

One year later, Magistrate Baldwin delivered a message to people paying off SPER debts.

Keep a check on your SPER account because the department "did not take responsibility" for clients who drove, not knowing their licences had been suspended for missed payments.



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