Car and Road Injuries

Unregistered, unlicenced, unsafe: what you should know

Peta Miller
Aug 20, 2021
min read
Young driver driving car

Not only does driving unlicensed or unregistered carry penalties such as a fine or a one-year jail term, but studies show that there are also associations with involvement in crashes.

And when you’re involved in one when a driver is unlicensed or driving an unregistered car, there are natural concerns about their lack of insurance or means to pay for your losses.

So, what are your rights if you’re injured in such circumstances?

Unlicensed driver accidents in Queensland

About four million Queenslanders carry a current driver’s licence, but that doesn’t mean that everyone who drives a car does. Those that don’t are found to be up to three times more likely to be involved in a crash of any type, and up to four times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash.

Studies have found that unlicensed drivers are consistently over-represented in a range of crash types and that these crashes are more likely to result in a fatality or serious injury. Even though it’s a relatively infrequent behaviour, unlicensed driving remains a significant road safety problem.

In fact, fatal road crashes in Queensland involving unlicensed drivers or riders have increased 37.5 per cent in the past five years. In the Year to Date to November 30, 2020, about 13.5 per cent of those fatal crashes involved unlicensed drivers or riders.

While it doesn’t play a direct causative role in the crashes themselves, it undermines driver licensing systems and is linked to other high risk driving behaviours such as drink driving, speeding and motorcycle use, as well as crashes involving inattention, inexperience and fatigue. But it’s an unnecessary cause for concern.

Being unlicensed does not necessarily mean that the driver doesn’t have insurance, particularly as personal injury CTP insurance is linked to the registration of the vehicle being driven. So, there’s no need to worry if you’re injured in such circumstances as CTP is the only insurance that will pay out regardless of whether the at-fault driver is unlicensed or has a suspended or revoked licence. It covers any injury compensation which the at-fault driver would be liable to pay.

Unregistered driver accidents in Queensland

There are also associations, however, found between the driving of unregistered vehicles and other dangerous driving behaviours like fatigue, drink driving and motorcycle use; and as such more likely to be involved in a crash.

During one particular study period, drivers of unregistered vehicles involved in crashes were found to be 3.1 times more likely than drivers of registered vehicles to have alcohol/drugs as a contributing factor, and three times more likely to be speeding at the time of the crash.

An uninsured driver is someone who doesn’t have comprehensive or third-party insurance cover on their vehicle. As we mentioned above, it is still possible to seek compensation under CTP if you're injured in a crash with an unregistered vehicle. But just in a slightly different way.

You can claim through the statutory body called the Nominal Defendant, which operates to compensate persons injured as a result of an accident with an uninsured driver.

It’s not easy to know if someone is uninsured unless they tell you after being in an accident with them. You can only hope that someone has been honest with you. But if you find yourself in this circumstances, we’ve put together a guide on what to do after a road accident. You can also read more on claiming against the nominal defendant here.

It is also worth noting you should also report the unregistered vehicle to police as it’s illegal.

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