Caught Driving Without A Licence In Singapore? Here’s What To Expect

by 24 June 2024Knowledge & Insights

Having a valid driver’s licence is more than just a privilege; it’s a legal requirement that ensures the safety of both motorists and pedestrians. Driving without a licence in Singapore is not taken lightly, especially in a country where order and discipline are highly prized.

This article will discuss the laws governing road traffic and what you must expect if caught driving without a licence.

Unlicenced Driving Vs. Driving With An Expired Licence

Before diving into the repercussions of unlicenced driving, it’s crucial to understand the distinction between unlicenced driving and driving with an expired licence.

Unlicenced driving, as the term suggests, refers to operating a motor vehicle without obtaining a valid driver’s licence for that particular vehicle class. It means you do not possess the legal authorisation to drive the vehicle you are operating.

On the other hand, driving with an expired licence refers to operating a motor vehicle when you had previously been issued a valid driver’s licence. Still, it has lapsed due to non-renewal within the specified timeframe.

Both traffic offences are taken seriously in Singapore, but unlicenced driving is generally regarded as a more severe violation due to the absence of any prior legal authorisation to drive the specific vehicle class.


Traffic Police Procedures

When the traffic police officer pulls you over for a routine check or due to a traffic violation, they will typically request to see your driver’s licence along with other necessary documents such as your identification (e.g., IC, passport), vehicle registration, and insurance information.

Verification Process To Confirm Licence Status

If the Traffic Police officers suspect you may be driving without a valid licence, they will conduct a real-time verification process using their database. If it shows that you do not have a valid licence, you will be deemed to be driving without one.

Issuance Of A Notice Of Traffic Offence

Upon confirming that you lack a valid driver’s licence, the Traffic Police will issue you a Notice of Traffic Offence. This notice initiates the legal process and formally notifies you of the offence you are charged with.

It is a crucial document you should keep in a safe place and bring with you when you attend your Court hearing.


Penalties For Driving Without A Licence In Singapore

Section 35 of the Road Traffic Act is the foundation for Singapore’s strict stance against unlicenced driving. This legislation unequivocally states that no person shall drive a motor vehicle on the road without holding a valid driving licence authorising them to drive that class of motor vehicle.

In essence, this means that you’re breaking the law each time you take the wheel without the appropriate driving licence. The following are the penalties that accompany the offence of driving without a licence in Singapore:


If found guilty, you may face a fine of up to $1,000. Repeat offenders are required to pay a fine of up to $2000. This penalty may also be combined with imprisonment.
It’s worth noting that these penalties apply even if you were unaware of the licensing requirements, making ignorance no excuse in the eyes of the law.


Imprisonment can be a penalty for first-time offenders caught driving without a valid licence in Singapore. The legal framework allows for a term of imprisonment of up to 3 months as a punitive measure.

However, it’s essential to note that imprisonment is not always the standard penalty for first-time offenders, and the actual sentence depends on the case’s circumstances, the Court’s discretion, and the defendant’s legal representation.

Those who have been previously charged and convicted of unlicenced driving can be sentenced to imprisonment for a term of up to 6 months.

Forfeiture Of Motor Vehicle

According to Section 35 AA, In the case of a repeat offender, the Court has the authority, upon request by the Public Prosecutor, to issue an order for the forfeiture of the motor vehicle used by the unlicenced driver.

This is unless the Court is convinced that the individual is not the vehicle’s legal owner and the driver involved in the traffic offence had operated it without obtaining consent from the rightful owner.


Your Rights And Options When Charged With Unlicenced Driving

After receiving the Notice of Traffic Offence, you must attend Court on the specified date to address the charges. During the Court proceedings, you can present your case, seek legal counsel, and explore options for mitigation or defence, depending on your circumstances.

It’s important to note that issuing a Notice of Traffic Offence is a significant step in the legal process, and the charges should be taken seriously.

Hiring a legal expert can be invaluable in understanding the legal system and achieving the best possible outcome for your case if you find yourself in this situation.


Conclusion About Driving Without Licence In Singapore

The legal consequences of unlicenced driving in Singapore can be severe. This includes fines, imprisonment, and even the forfeiture of your vehicle. It is essential to abide by the licensing regulations and ensure that you are always in compliance with the law when operating a motor vehicle.

If you are uncertain about your licensing status or have doubts, it’s better to seek clarification from the relevant authorities before getting behind the wheel.

In case you find yourself facing charges related to unlicenced driving, seek legal assistance from our expert lawyers. Our criminal defence team at Tembusu Law will explore defence strategies and potentially mitigate the penalties associated with your case. Book a consultation with us today!


Frequently Asked Questions About Driving Without A Licence In Singapore

Can I Drive In Singapore With An International Driving Licence?

Generally, tourists and visitors to Singapore can drive with a valid international driving permit (IDP) or a valid foreign driver’s licence for up to 12 months. However, Singaporean residents are required to obtain a Singapore driver’s licence.

What Steps Can I Take To Regain My Driving Privileges After Being Convicted Of Unlicenced Driving?

If convicted of unlicenced driving, you may need to serve any imposed penalties and adhere to any disqualification period. After completing these requirements, you can apply for a new driver’s licence, subject to the usual eligibility criteria.

What Happens If I Fail To Appear In Court After Receiving A Notice Of Traffic Offence?

Failing to appear in Court as required can lead to additional legal consequences, including the issuance of a warrant for your arrest. It is crucial to attend your Court hearing as specified in the notice.

How To Avoid Unlicenced Driving In Singapore?

The best way to avoid the legal hassles and potential consequences of unlicenced driving is to ensure that you hold the appropriate, valid driving licence for the vehicle you intend to operate. Renew your licence on time and stay informed about any changes in licensing requirements.

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About the author

Tembusu Law


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