David John O'Brien owes a total of $22,000 in unpaid fines.
David John O'Brien owes a total of $22,000 in unpaid fines.

$22,000 debt: Driver’s crushing fine count

TOUGH times are ahead for an Ipswich man whose licence was suspended by a government agency because of the $22,000 debt he owes in unpaid fines.

Despite the ban he was busted driving while on his way get his girlfriend Panadol.

Fronting Ipswich Magistrates Court, David John O'Brien, 32, a fencer from Goodna, pleaded guilty to driving a motor vehicle when unlicensed due to SPER suspension at Redbank Plains on June 4.

Prosecutor Sergeant Paul Caldwell said a police patrol spotted O'Brien behind the wheel of a red Suzuki at 9.15pm on Redbank Plains Rd.

His licence had been suspended by the State Penalties Enforcement Registry since December 8 last year.

"I was caught driving. I hadn't driven for a long time but my girlfriend was sick and I was getting Panadol from the 7-Eleven," O'Brien told Magistrate Virginia Sturgess.

O'Brien said he had previously been told he had to pay "so much money to SPER" to get his licence, but thought the suspension had been two years ago.

Ms Sturgess referred to O'Brien's history, saying his licence had been SPER suspended "repeatedly" including in 2106 and in 2017.

"I've never paid it off," O'Brien said.

"I owe $22,000.

"I know I'm not entitled to drive. It was a one-off offence really."

Ms Sturgess reminded O'Brien that he had not held a valid licence for 10 years, saying, "so you know you can't drive".

"Yes Your honour," he said.

"It's my girlfriend's car."

Ms Sturgess said she stood to lose the car if he continued to drive it.

"I'm lucky that night. Police gave me a chance," O'Brien said.

"Yes very generous of them," Ms Sturgess said.

O'Brien said he was a fencer who built retaining walls, and his father gave him a lift to work.

O'Brien was fined $350 and his licence was disqualified for three months.