Driving a motor vehicle without a driving licence as a major offence
Legal assets under the protection of the criminal law
Right to life
Right to safety
Prohibition on criminalisation
Principle of necessity
Principle of subsidiarity
Principle of proportionality
RULING Nº 83/95
21 of February of 1995
Protecting the lives and safety of road users by means of criminal law provisions was in accordance with the Constitution. Driving a motor car without a driving licence was a serious offence which endangered the safety (and lives) of everyone who used the public highway.
In making driving without a licence a criminal offence, however, the law must take into account other constitutional principles such as the principle of justice, the principle of humanity and the principle of proportionality.
Until 1990 driving without a licence had been a minor offence punishable by a fine and up to three months' imprisonment. A new law then made it a major offence punishable by up to one year's imprisonment and a fine.
The Court ruled on the constitutional limits to criminalisation of behaviour and decided that the law in question was not unconstitutional. In particular it held that treating driving a motor car without a driving licence as a major offence was not unreasonable and was justified by the rise in road accidents and the injuries and loss of life which it caused.