The most important thing to know is that there are no demerit points for driving an unregistered/uninsured car. As at June 2017, the total expiation fee for an unregistered vehicle is $418.00 (which includes a Victims of Crime levy). If the car has been unregistered for more than 30 days it is also uninsured, which is an additional fine of $772 including levy.
The Motor Vehicles Act states that it is an offence to drive an unregistered vehicle. It is also an offence to allow an unregistered vehicle to be on a road. This covers situations where police see an unregistered car on a road, but there is no-one physically in the car.
So who is liable? Well, if the car is stationary on the road, the registered owner is liable. If the car is being driven, then the driver is liable. If the car is detected by a camera, then the expiation notice will be sent to the owner. So the general rule of thumb is that if Police can identify the driver, then the driver will get the expiation notice. Otherwise it will go to the owner.
Defences to the charges are few and far between. If you are not the owner of the vehicle, then it is a defence if you “did not know, and could not reasonably be expected to have known, that the vehicle was unregistered”. The onus is on the driver to take steps to ensure that a car they drive is registered. To make out this defence, the driver would need to prove that they took active steps to ensure that the vehicle was registered and were misled about registration (eg, asking the owner and the owner lying about the car being registered).
If you are given an expiation notice as the owner of a vehicle, there is not much at all that you can do. It is not a defence that you did not receive a reminder notice. The obligation is always on the owner to ensure that the car is registered.
So in summary:
- No demerit points for driving an uninsured/unregistered vehicle;
- Very little chance of successfully defending the charges.
- Just pay the fine. If you go to court, you will probably be found guilty and will have a conviction recorded. There is no conviction recorded if you expiate an offence.