Updated: May 15
You’re at high risk of jail.
And you have to work overtime to avoid it.
As far as the courts are concerned, they have little sympathy for people who drive without insurance in the first place.
They have even less for people who drive after being disqualified.
I remember an Appeal Judge once declare
at the beginning of court:
“Anyone who’s appealing either a no insurance (i.e. driving without insurance)
or driving while disqualified case
had better consider their position”.
There’s a pretty logical reason for this.
If you’ve been disqualified from driving by a Judge and you decide to drive anyway, that’s interpreted by the Judge as you giving two-fingers to the courts.
Judges tend not to like that sort of stuff.
That’s why they often put people someplace where they can be sure they won’t drive anymore.
I think you know where I’m talking about.
In other words, it means you don’t care what penalty they give you, you’re going to drive anyway.
Now this may not be true in your case but that’s what they think and it’s up to you to convince them otherwise.
Other pressures on the Judiciary cause them to take a firm line on driving while disqualified.
The most frequent criticism that they level at people is that:
“the rest of us have to pay for insurance and we have to pay more every time people like you (the Defendant) drive without insurance, has a crash, and the other driver has to make a claim. We (insured drivers) have to pay for that, have to pay for you”.
If you’re hearing some variation of this, then jail is looming.
Is there a Defence to driving while disqualified?
There is no defence to driving while disqualified.
Sometimes people raise the flimsy possibility of trying to impress the Judge based on some sort of “emergency”.
The idea is usually along the lines that they “had” to drive because of some unforeseen and sudden crisis.
That was a signal, a very blunt signal,
that if you decided to progress your insurance/disqualification appeal,
that Judge was likely to double your prison sentence.
Judges are extremely sceptical of this.
The chances of a genuine emergency taking place at the one time that you get caught driving without insurance are extremely rare.
It almost never happens.
The chances of an “emergency” occurring when you drove while disqualified is about 1 in a million.
In other words, in my 25 years in the criminal justice system on both the prosecution and defence side, I’ve never heard of it happening.
You have to understand that Judges are not (contrary to urban myth) "out of touch" and usually sit in court all day every day.
On any one day at least 2 people will be prosecuted for driving while disqualified. That's 2 per day (at least), 10 per week.
Over the course of a year that's about (allowing for holidays) 300. The average length of service of a Judge is at least 7 years, so that means they've dealt with about 2,100 cases just like yours.
These are very conservative figures.
Some of these people have been serial road traffic offenders. Of this group some are compelling liars. A minority are so convincing that they can even cry-on-command.
They have peddled every conceivable excuse known to man as to why they drove while disqualified. Some of these excuses have been extremely inventive.
You think that you're going to come up with something that a Judge has never heard before?
They do this every day after all.
Think about it, the Judge would obviously wonder why you were in close proximity to a car in the first place considering that you were disqualified.
You’re disqualified; why do you still even possess a car?
You can see how that just wouldn’t fly in court and I do not run spurious defences that either assume the Judge will accept “any old story” (they will not) or run the risk of angering them (a distinct possibility).
As a general rule I try not to antagonise people that can put you in jail.
What is the sentence for driving while disqualified?
A fine of up to €5,000 and/or 6 months in prison.
Either or both.
In practice the chances of you getting a fine even remotely close to €5,000 is effectively zero. But jail is very much a real possibility.
Often, what Judges do is to impose the prison sentence and a fine of between €400 to €1,000.
These are general parameters only.
It may be higher, it may be lower, but its usually in that bracket.
You might wonder why that financial penalty is so low.
Its low because the Judge knows that if it is too high, the person will very likely appeal the “severity” of the financial penalty, which takes up more time in another court.
But the real danger is the risk of jail.
If you do get a sentence of imprisonment, you have a right to appeal that sentence to the Circuit Court.
That’s the higher court and the appeal will be in front of a different Judge.
But a word of warning here too: there is a growing army of Circuit Court Judges who take an even harder line on driving without insurance and driving while disqualified.
And the thing with an appeal court is that while they have the power to reduce the sentence, they also have the power to increase it.
Judges experience pressure too and there is growing pressure to deal firmly with people who drive while either uninsured or (especially) disqualified.
I remember an Appeal Judge once declare at the beginning of court: “Anyone who’s appealing either a no insurance (i.e. driving without insurance) or driving while disqualified case had better consider their position”.
That was a signal, a very blunt signal, that if you decided to progress your insurance/disqualification appeal, that Judge was likely to double your prison sentence.
Everyone withdrew their appeals that day.
By the way, if you do decide to cry in court you'll most likely be met by a Judge rolling their eyes.
They'll then tell you, very firmly, to stop, or else.
There's a reason for this too: some people try to "leverage" emotion as a means of trying to "persuade" the Judge to be lenient.
And from my experience, Judges dislike this intensely.
So bring some Kleenex.