Illawarra woman avoids conviction on three suspended driving charges

A single mother caught driving with a suspended licence three times in one week has avoided punishment in a Wollongong court after her lawyer argued the circumstances surrounding her case warranted significant leniency.

The Illawarra woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was six weeks away from regaining her licence after a demerit point suspension when she was caught driving her children to or from school on the mornings of August 8, 11 and 14.

The court heard the woman lived in an area with such poor public transport that school drop-off would take two hours one way if she had to use buses and trains.

“She has to walk an hour to the nearest shopping centre just to do the groceries,” Legal Aid lawyer Paul Paine told the court on Tuesday.

“She took the risk of driving on these days – she said she did it to make her life easier.”

Mr Paine said the woman had now sold her car – for a mere $200 – to avoid the temptation to drive until she was legally allowed.

He urged the court to take the unusual action of not convicting the woman on three counts of driving while suspended, thereby allowing her to avoid further time without a licence.

Prosecutor Sean Thackray noted the initial suspension had came about because the woman had lost demerit points, but said the appropriate punishment was ultimately a matter for the court to decide.

Magistrate Brett Thomas agreed to the leniency request and chose not to impose convictions against the woman, saying it was obvious her circumstances for driving were “altogether different” to the cases that normally came before the court.

The woman’s licence will be reinstated at the end of the month.