TRAFFIC OFFENCES

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How to beat a traffic offence

In NSW, most traffic offences are strict liability offences. That means the prosecuting authority does not need to prove you intended to commit the offence, only that you did commit the offence.

Traffic law is a complex area of law and it is essential that you seek legal advice about your matter, especially if your matter is before the courts. Most traffic offences are dealt with under the Road Transport Act 2013, however, there are a number of traffic offences that are prosecuted under the Crimes Act 1900 NSW.

 

In NSW we have been brainwashed to think that once a traffic fine has been received, that it’s not worth contesting. We are some what forced to simply accept it and all of its consequences – even when we know or at least feel we did not commit the offence or at least how it is being alleged. The reality, however, is that our legal system protects us from such injustices and where a person is adamant that they did not commit an office it is often the case that they are right.

What can you be charged with?

There are a number of serious and non-serious driving offences and traffic offences that fall under:

Serious Driving Offences

  1. Negligent driving where death is occasioned
  2. Negligent driving where grievous bodily harm is occasioned
  3. Furious driving; Reckless driving; Driving in a manner or at a speed dangerous
  4. Fail to stop and give assistance in an accident involving death or injury
  5. Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  6. Speeding offences
  7. School zone offences

Non-serious offences:

  1. Parking offences
  2. General driving offences (not wearing a seatbeltred light offences, mobile phone offences, etc)
  3. Vehicle registration
  4. Licence offences
  5. Heavy vehicle offences
  6. Heavy vehicle driver fatigue offences

Some of these traffic offences are explained below.

What are the Most Common Driving Offences?
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    Driving Under the Influence

    Drink Driving (PCA Offences)

    Drink driving offences are serious offences. According to the Centre for Road Safetydrink driving is a factor in one in seven crashes in NSW that result in death.

    From 20 May 2019, tougher penalties apply for lower range drink driving offences, and for driving with the presence of an illicit drug.

    The change is part of a number of reforms in the Road Safety Plan 2021 to reduce alcohol and drug related trauma on NSW roads.

    Many drivers follow the guideline:

     

    • Males = 2 standard drinks in the first hour and 1 standard drink every hour after
    • Females = 1 standard drink in the first hour and 1 standard drink every hour after.

    However, everybody reacts to and processes alcohol differently. Therefore, it is best not to consume alcohol if you will be driving.

     

    Blood alcohol limits

    Novice drivers (learner and provisional licence holders) have a 0.00 blood alcohol limit.

    Special category (professional drivers, e.g bus, truck, taxi, uber, etc) have a blood alcohol limit of 0.02

    Class C licence holders (normal car and motorbike licence) have a blood alcohol limit of 0.05

     

    Alcohol offences

    Novice range PCA = a BAC of more than 0 grams but less than 0.02 grams of alcohol in 210 litres of breath or 100 milligrams of blood.

    A novice driver who has consumed alcohol must not:

    (a) drive a motor vehicle, or

    (b) occupy the driving seat of the motor vehicle and attempt to put the motor vehicle in motion

    The maximum penalty is a fine of $2,200 (1st offence) or $3,300 (2nd or subsequent offence)

    The licence disqualification period for this offence is:

    * If no previous major offence has been committed in the previous 5 years:

      * An automatic disqualification of 6 months, or

      * If the court thinks fit, a disqualification of 3 months (but no shorter)

    * If a previous major offence has been committed in the previous 5 years:

       * An automatic licence disqualification of 12 months, or

       * If the court thinks fit, a licence disqualification of 6 months (but no shorter)

    Special range PCA  = a BAC of 0.02 grams or more, but less than 0.05 grams of alcohol in 210 litres of breath or 100 milligrams of blood.

    A special category driver who has consumed more than 0.02 must not:

    (a) drive a motor vehicle, or

    (b) occupy the driving seat of the motor vehicle and attempt to put the motor vehicle in motion

    (c) occupy the seat in a motor vehicle next to a learner driver who is driving the vehicle

    The maximum penalty is a fine of $2,200 (1st offence) or $3,300 (2nd or subsequent offence)

    The licence disqualification period for this offence is:

    * If no previous major offence has been committed in the previous 5 years:

      * An automatic licence disqualification of 6 months, or

      * If the court thinks fit, a licence disqualification of 3 months (but no shorter)

    * If a previous major offence has been committed in the previous 5 years:

       * An automatic licence disqualification of 12 months, or

       * If the court thinks fit, a licence disqualification of 6 months (but no shorter)

    Low range PCA = a BAC of 0.05 grams or more, but less than 0.08 grams of alcohol in 210 litres of breath or 100 millilitres of blood

    A driver who has consumed more than 0.05 must not:

    (a) drive a motor vehicle, or

    (b) occupy the driving seat of the motor vehicle and attempt to put the motor vehicle in motion

    (c) occupy the seat in a motor vehicle next to a learner driver who is driving the vehicle

    The maximum penalty is a fine of $2,200 (1st offence) or $3,300 (2nd or subsequent offence)

    The licence disqualification period for this offence is:

    * If no previous major offence has been committed in the previous 5 years:

      * An automatic licence disqualification of 6 months, or

      * If the court thinks fit, a licence disqualification of 3 months (but no shorter)

    * If a previous major offence has been committed in the previous 5 years:

       * An automatic licence disqualification of 12 months, or

       * If the court thinks fit, a licence disqualification of 6 months (but no shorter)

    Middle range PCE = a BAC of 0.08 grams or more, but less than 0.15 grams of alcohol in 210 litres of breath or 100 milligrams of blood

    A driver who has consumed alcohol resulting in a blood alcohol content between 0.08 grams and 0.15 grams of alcohol must not:

    a) drive a motor vehicle, or

    (b) occupy the driving seat of the motor vehicle and attempt to put the motor vehicle in motion

    (c) occupy the seat in a motor vehicle next to a learner driver who is driving the vehicle

    The maximum penalty is a fine of $2,200 or imprisonment for up to 9 months (or both) for a first offence. If it is a second or subsequent offence, the maximum penalty is a fine of $3,300 or imprisonment for up to 12 months (or both).

    The licence disqualification period for this offence is:

    * If no previous major offence has been committed in the previous 5 years:

      * An automatic licence disqualification of 12 months, or

      * If the court thinks fit, a licence disqualification of 6 months (but no shorter)

    High range PCE = a BAC of 0.15 grams or more of alcohol in 210 litres of breath or 100 milligrams of blood

    A driver who has consumed alcohol resulting in a blood alcohol content of more than 0.15 grams must not:

    a) drive a motor vehicle, or

    (b) occupy the driving seat of the motor vehicle and attempt to put the motor vehicle in motion

    (c) occupy the seat in a motor vehicle next to a learner driver who is driving the vehicle

    The maximum penalty for this offence is a fine of $3,300 or imprisonment for up to 18 months (or both) for a first offence. If it is a second or subsequent offence, the maximum penalty is a fine of $5,500 or imprisonment for up to 2 years (or both).

    The licence disqualification period for this offence is:

      * If no previous offence has been committed in the previous 5 years:

         * An automatic licence disqualification of 12 months

         * If it is a second or subsequent offence, an automatic licence disqualification of 2 years.

    Alcohol Interlock Program

    For high range and mid-range PCA offences and second or subsequent PCA offences, the court may order a driver to enrol in the alcohol interlock program and have a device fitted to their vehicle. The interlock program impacts on the disqualification period a court may set. For further information about the program, including how to have a device fitted to your vehicle, contact Jameson Law or RMS.

    Drug Driving

    Driving while under the influence of drugs is a serious offence. 

    A person must not, while there is present in the person’s oral fluid, blood or urine any prescribed illicit drug:

    a) drive a motor vehicle

    b) occupy the driving seat of a motor vehicle and attempt to put the vehicle in motion, or

    c) if the person is the holder of an applicable drivers licence (other than provisional and learners licence) occupy the seat next to a learner driver driving the vehicle

    The maximum penalty for this offence is a fine of $2,200 for a first offence and $3,300 for a second or subsequent offence.

    The licence disqualification period for this offence is:

    • If no previous major offence has been committed in the previous 5 years:
    • An automatic disqualification of 6 months, or
    • If the court thinks fit, a disqualification of 3 months (but no shorter)
    • If a previous major offence has been committed in the previous 5 years:
    • An automatic disqualification of 12 months, or
    • If the court thinks fit, a disqualification of 6 months (but no shorter)

    Refusing a Roadside Breath Test or Drug Test

    It is also an offence to refuse a roadside breath test. It can result in being arrested and conveyed to the police station for a breath analysis. Refusal to take a breath test is treated the same as high range PCA and has the same penalties.

    Driving Negligently

    A person must not drive a motor vehicle on a road negligently. 

    Penalties:

    • If it results in death = a maximum penalty of $3,300 or imprisonment for 18 months (or both)    for a first offence. For a second or subsequent offence, the maximum penalty is $5,500 or imprisonment for 2 years (or both).
    • If it results in grievous bodily harm (serious injury) = a maximum penalty of $2,200 or imprisonment for 9 months (or both) for a first offence. For a second or subsequent offence, the maximum penalty is $3,300 or imprisonment for 12 months (or both).
    • If it does not result in death or grievous bodily harm, the maximum penalty is $1,100.

    Drive Furiously, Recklessly or at Speed in a Manner Dangerous to the Public

    A person must not drive furiously, recklessly or at speed in a manner dangerous to the public.

    Penalties:

    • Under the Road Transport Act 2013, a maximum penalty of $2,200 or imprisonment for 9 months (or both) for a first offence. For a second or subsequent offence, a maximum penalty of $3,300 or imprisonment for 12 months (or both).
    • This offence is also punishable under the Crimes Act 1900 where it results in injury or grievous bodily harm. The maximum penalty is imprisonment for 2 years. 

    Police Pursuits

    Police pursuits are a criminal law offence. A driver who knows, ought to reasonably know or has reasonable grounds to suspect that police are in pursuit of the vehicle being driven is required to stop the vehicle and does not stop the vehicle and then drives recklessly or at speed or in a manner dangerous to others, is guilty of an offence.

    The maximum penalty for this offence is imprisonment of 3 years for a first offence. For a second or subsequent offence, the maximum penalty is imprisonment for 5 years.

    Failure To Stop And Render Assistance

    Failure to stop and render assistance after an accident is a criminal law offence. 

    • Death: A driver involved in a motor vehicle accident causing the death of another person and the driver knows, ought reasonably to know the vehicle has been involved in a car accident causing death or grievous bodily harm to another person and fails to stop and render assistance is guilty of an offence. The maximum penalty for this offence is imprisonment for 10 years.
    • Grievous bodily harm (serious injury): A driver involved in a motor vehicle accident causing grievous bodily harm of another person and the driver knows or ought reasonably to know the vehicle has been involved in a car accident causing death or grievous bodily harm to another person and fails to stop and render assistance is guilty of an offence. The maximum penalty for this offence is imprisonment for 7 years.

    Predatory Driving

    Predatory driving is a criminal law offence. A driver who, while in pursuit of or travelling near another vehicle, engages in a course of conduct that causes or threatens an impact involving the other road users and intends by their conduct to cause injury to persons in the other vehicle is guilty of an offence.

    The maximum penalty for this offence is imprisonment for 5 years.

    Dangerous Driving

    Dangerous driving is a criminal law offence with multiple categories.

    Dangerous driving occasioning death

    If a vehicle driven by a person is involved in a car accident causing the death of another person and the person driving the vehicle was, at the time of the car accident, driving the vehicle

    • under the influence of intoxicating liquor or a drug; or
    • at a speed dangerous to another person or persons; or
    • in a manner dangerous to another person or persons

    The maximum penalty for this offence is imprisonment for 10 years.

     

    Aggravated dangerous driving occasioning death

    If dangerous driving occasioning death occurs in circumstances of aggression, the maximum penalty is imprisonment for 14 years.

    Aggravating circumstances include but are not limited to:

    • element and nature of injuries inflicted
    • number of people put at risk
    • degree of speed
    • degree of intoxication or of substance abuse
    • erratic or aggressive driving
    • competitive driving or showing off
    • length of the journey during which others were exposed to risk
    • ignoring warnings
    • escaping police pursuit
    • degree of sleep deprivation
    • failing to stop

    Dangerous driving occasioning grievous bodily harm

    If a vehicle being driven by a person is involved in a car accident causing grievous bodily to another person and the driver was at the time of the car accident, driving the vehicle 

    • under the influence of intoxicating liquor or of a drug
    • at a speed dangerous to another person or persons
    • in a manner dangerous to another person or persons

         The maximum penalty for this offence is imprisonment for 7 years.

     

    Aggravated dangerous driving occasioning grievous bodily harm

    If dangerous driving occasioning grievous bodily harm occurs in circumstances of aggression, the maximum penalty is imprisonment for 11 years. Aggravating circumstances are set out above.

    Traffic Offenders Program

    Participation in traffic offenders programs shows the court you are remorseful and may assist in reducing your disqualification period.

    Speeding – Street Racing

    A person must not operate a motor vehicle in such a manner as to cause the vehicle to undergo sustained loss of traction by one or more wheels of a vehicle.

    The maximum penalty for this offence is a fine of $1,100.

    It is also an offence to :

    • Do or omit to do anything that prolongs, sustains, intensifies or increases a loss of traction.
    • Operate a vehicle as above, knowing there is an appreciable risk do so at that time and place is likely to interfere with the amenity of the area or the peaceful enjoyment of persons in the area or make the area unsafe.
    • Willingly participate in any group activity involving the above.
    • Organise/promote/urge any person to participate in or view any group activity involving one or more vehicle as stated above.
    • Photograph or film the above activities to promote it.

    The maximum penalty for this offence is a fine of $3,300 for a first offence or a fine $3,300 or imprisonment for 9 months (or both) for a second or subsequent offence.

    Speeding and Red Light Cameras

    Many red light cameras also include a speed detection device. It is possible to appeal speeding and red light camera offences. Once you receive the infringement notice, follow the instructions attached. It is recommended to appeal your infringement to the State Debt Recovery Office (SDRO) before appealing to the court. It is important to lodge your appeal immediately as you only have 21 days from the date of the infringement notice. Before lodging your appeal, you can obtain a copy of the picture taken by the camera, however, you will be charged a fee.

    Licence Offences

    Novice = Learners permit and provisional licence (P1 and P2) holders 

    Special = Professional drivers e.g. bus and truck (light rigid, medium rigid and heavy rigid), taxi, Uber, etc

    C class = normal drivers licence

     

    Unlicensed Driving in NSW

    In NSW, a person MUST NOT, unless exempted by statutory rules-

    a) drive a motor vehicle on any road without being licensed for that purpose; or

    b) employ or permit any person not so licensed to drive a motor vehicle on any road

    The maximum penalty is a fine of $2,200

    If you have not held a license in the past 5 years and you drive a motor vehicle on any road, you can incur a maximum fine of $2,200 for a first offence or $3,300 or imprisonment for six months (or both) for a second or subsequent offence.

    Licence Suspension and Licence Cancellation

    Demerit Points

    Unrestricted licence holders in NSW risk having their licence suspended by the roads authority if they accrue the following demerit points in a three year period:

    • 13 (or 14 for a professional driver) to 15 = 3 months licence suspension
    • 16 to 19 = 4 months licence suspension
    • 20 or more = 5 months licence suspension

    Police Suspension / Cancellation of Licence

    • A police officer has the power to suspend/confiscate a driver’s licence for the following:
    • Serious offences causing death or grievous bodily harm
    • Speeding in excess of 45km/h above the speed limit (automatic 6 months suspension)
    • Driving under the influence
    • PCA offences (automatic 3 months suspension for low range drink driving)
    • Street racing
    • Aggravated burnout offences
    • Novice driver speeding in excess of 30km/h above the speed limit (automatic 3 months suspension)
    • Unaccompanied learner (automatic 3 months suspension)

    On the spot suspensions mean you MUST NOT drive the vehicle.

    Police suspensions can be appealed. You MUST lodge your appeal within 28 days of the infringement notice.

    You MUST NOT drive while a licence suspension is in place. If you do, it can lead to further penalties.

    Further information can be found on the RMS website.

     

    Driving While Suspended / Disqualified

    It is an offence to drive while suspended or disqualified. The maximum penalty for this offence is a fine of $3,300, imprisonment for 6 months and licence disqualification for 6 months for a first offence. For a second or subsequent offence, the maximum penalty is a fine of $5,500, imprisonment for 12 months and licence disqualification for 12 months.

     

    Vehicle Registration Offences

    In NSW, it is an offence to drive an unregistered vehicle. Failure to register your vehicle means that your vehicle is also uninsured. Driving an uninsured vehicle is also an offence.

    The penalty for driving an unregistered light vehicle (car and van up to 12 seats) is $686. The penalty for driving an uninsured light vehicle (car and van up to 12 seats) is $686. If the vehicle is a heavy vehicle (GVM more over 4.5), the fine for an unregistered vehicle is $1449 and 4 demerit points. The fine for driving an uninsured heavy vehicle is $686.

     

    Habitual Traffic Offenders Declaration

    As of 2017, the Habitual Traffic Offenders Declaration has been abolished. If you have a declaration still in place, contact Jameson Law to discuss your matter.

     

    Disclaimer

    The above is general legal information and should not be considered legal advice. You should speak with one of our solicitors for legal advice tailored to your specific legal problem. The penalties listed are maximum penalties. The courts deal with matters on a case by case basis. It should also be noted that there may be court delays due to COVID-19.

    Frequently Asked Questions.

    This depends on the seriousness of your traffic offence. If you have received a Court Appearance Notice (CAN), then you will have to go to the Local Court. If you are unsure, just contact us and we can check for you. We can also appear with you, to ensure your legal rights are protected.

    If your car or motorcycle was involved in any of the following offences, then the police do have grounds to either impound your vehicle, remove your number plates and attach a ‘number-plate confiscation notice’ and/or send you a ‘production notice’ requiring that you take the car to an impound or hand in your number plates.

    These are the sanctionable offences which they can perform the above:

    • some drink driving offences 

    • street racing

    • burnouts

    • a police pursuit

    • speeding by more than 45 km/h (does not include camera detected offences)

    • speeding by more than 30 km/h if you are a disqualified driver (does not include camera detected offences)

    The police can also take away your vehicle if you were convicted of drink driving in the last 5 years and now, caught with: 
     
    • mid-range Prescribed Concentration of Alcohol (a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more but less than 0.15)

    • high-range Prescribed Concentration of Alcohol (a blood concentration of more than 0.15)

    • refusing to give a breath test or failing to provide a blood sample, when requesting by police.   

    No. If this has happened to you contact us immediately. The police can only impound or take the number plates of the car you are driving if you are the registered owner of the car.

    They may however send you a warning notice, and if your vehicle is involved in sanctionable offences in the next 5 years, the registration will be suspended for up to 3 months.

    If you have received a warning letter, contact us to look into a resolution especially if you had no involvement in the incident.

    Yes. We can help you put an application to the Court showing that you need to use the vehicle. The Court in turn will consider the following:

    • whether it is reasonably likely that the vehicle will be used to commit sanctionable offences again, or
    • any extreme hardship caused to someone other than the registered owner because the vehicle or number plates have been taken away.

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