​Reduced penalties for driving offences but no increase in accidents

Full report: Early indicators of the impacts of the NSW Driver Licence Disqualification Reforms (pdf, 260Kb)

Release date: Thursday, 13 September, 2018


The 2017 NSW driver licence reforms have reduced penalties without increasing accidents according to a report released today by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR).

In October 2017 the NSW Government introduced the driver licence reform package with the aims to (1) reduce local court volumes of drive while disqualified matters, (2) reduce repeat disqualified driving, (3) reduce imprisonment days for unauthorised driving offences and (4) increase road safety by returning people to lawful driving.

The package involved amendments to the statutory penalties for offences involving driving whilst disqualified and driving without a licence.

BOCSAR found the reforms reduced average licence disqualification periods by 56% and average prison sentences by 24%. The reforms also resulted in a 19% reduction in the monthly number of persons in prison whose most serious offence was unauthorised driving.

No significant change was observed in the proportion of people receiving a licence disqualification from the court or in the proportion receiving a custodial sentence.

An analysis of monthly road crashes between November 2012 and January 2018 indicated that the more lenient penalties had no immediate adverse impact on road deaths or injuries involving unauthorised drivers or those involving authorised drivers.

Commenting on the findings, the Executive Director of BOCSAR, Dr Don Weatherburn said that the results were reassuring but not surprising. “Numerous studies have shown that the risk of apprehension is a far more powerful deterrent than the severity of the punishment if caught”.   

Further enquiries: Dr Don Weatherburn 02 8346 1100
Copies of the report: www.bocsar.nsw.gov.au