Author Suzanne Poynton and Felix Leung
Published August 2018
Report Type Bureau Brief No. 135
Subject Driving offences; Sentencing; Evaluation reports
Keywords Driving offences, sentencing, penalties, licence disqualification

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To examine the impact of the 2017 Driver Licence Disqualification Reforms on sentencing outcomes for unauthorised driving offences.


Structural breaks were investigated in monthly time series data on penalties imposed for unauthorised driving offences finalised in NSW courts from January 2015 to June 2018 and monthly injury/fatality crash data between November 2012 and January 2018. For each given time series, the time of a structural break, if any, was determined by an iterative breakpoint detection method. Any structural break detected in the months after October 2017 would indicate an abrupt change in the series at the time the reforms commenced.


A post-reform decrease was observed with a structural break detected when the reforms began for: (1) average duration of licence disqualifications for Driving While Disqualified (DWD) and Driving Without a Licence (DWL) offences, (2) average duration of prison sentences for DWD, and (3) the number of persons in custody where DWD or DWL is their most serious offence. No structural break was detected at the time the reforms commenced in the number of injury or fatal crashes involving unauthorised drivers.


The 2017 NSW Driver Licence Reforms resulted in a 56% reduction in average licence disqualifications and a 24% reduction in average prison sentences imposed for unauthorised driving offences. No immediate negative impact was observed on road safety in the three months following the reforms.

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