Traffic offences are a complex and often complicated area of law in Victoria, as the offences can be very serious and have significant penalties. Slades & Parsons can answer your questions on these offences and help you navigate the process.
Traffic laws are in place to ensure the safety of road users and pedestrians. If you contravene a traffic law this is a traffic offence.
Traffic offences are a complex area of law in Victoria, as the offences can be very serious and have significant penalties. Many offences are enforced through a driver having the onus to disprove allegations. For example, the owner of a motor vehicle may have an obligation to nominate a driver.
Traffic offences can include:
Driving in a manner that has caused serious injury or death to another person
Infringement enforcement orders that may have accumulated significant penalties
Traffic offences span from road safety offences and minor traffic offences to offences that contravene the Crimes Act. They include reckless conduct endangering serious injury, reckless conduct endangering life, dangerous driving causing serious injury or death and culpable driving.
Some minor traffic offences may include speeding slightly over the limit or using a mobile phone whilst driving. These offences are ordinarily not heard in Court but people can elect to do so if they are challenging the penalty.
Offences that automatically go to court and are considered as serious include:
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
Driving whilst disqualified
Driving whilst suspended
Speeding in a level that is significantly over the limit
Failure to stop
Traffic offences heard in the higher courts include offences that have resulted in the serious injury or death of another person.
All traffic matters can be heard in a court if a person elects to do so. If you choose to go to court, we always recommend securing court representation on all legal matters.
Ordinarily, not all traffic offences go to court. However, there are many offences under the Road Safety Act that attract terms of imprisonment or mandatory loss of licence. These matters are heard in court before a Magistrate, at the Magistrates Court.
Victoria Legal Aid does not fund legal representation for any offences under the Road Safety Act. However, many Road Safety Act offences can attract terms of imprisonment or mandatory licence loss. The Court considers those to have a poor driving history as serious matters. For these people, the Court can impose substantial fines, Community Correction Orders or imprisonment.
All offences under the Crimes Act (for example, dangerous driving causing serious injury) will be disclosed on your criminal record. Further, there are many offences that can be disclosed on your Criminal History that are lower-level offences. This includes driving while disqualified or driving carelessly.
Further, if your matter is heard in Court then it will be disclosed on your Criminal Record. This is important if you have elected to have your case heard in court. For an offence that is not ordinarily heard in court, a guilty finding will appear on your record.
Further, there is a driving record that is a separate criminal history. The offences that are recorded on your prior traffic history include:
Offences that attract demerit point loss
Driving offences where you were found guilty by a court
Offences that have resulted in a loss of licence that may not have been heard before a court. For example, driving with alcohol in your system or speeding
Traffic camera offences
Failure to stop (at the scene of a collision or on direction from a police officer)
Criminal and traffic priors can be disclosed in criminal record checks by employers to potential employees.
Many offences attract mandatory license loss and judicial officers have the discretion to disqualify or cancel licenses.
VicRoads ordinarily manages the relicensing requirements. Anyone with a suspended, disqualified or cancelled licence must attend VicRoads to be advised of their requirements to be re-licensed.
For those who have had their licence suspended due to alcohol or drug use, there are obligations to complete courses. They then make an application to the court, before a Magistrate, to obtain a licence. This may also include a period of an alcohol interlock.
Further, some people may complete the suspension period but then have demerit point loss of licence come into force. Therefore, it is essential that enquiries are made with VicRoads prior to driving.
The penalties vary depending on the reading on your prior driving history and when the offending occurred. If you have relevant prior offences, the mandatory loss periods increase.
Currently, the mandatory minimum licence disqualification for a reading above 0.05 but less than 0.07 is 6 months for a first offence or 12 months for a subsequent offence.
Any subsequent offending within a ten-year limit will have that figure at least doubled.
Higher readings also result in further mandatory licence disqualification limits.
Further, if the reading is BAC 0.10 or more your car can be impounded.
The Magistrate can extend the disqualification period if the driving behaviour was also dangerous.
Once the period of disqualification has elapsed, VicRoads will advise drivers of any further steps or courses they must complete. This includes attending Court and making an application for an alcohol interlock.
Minor traffic offences are dealt with by way of an immediate fine. They are served on people either directly by a police officer or in the mail. Minor traffic offences may include:
Traffic camera offences
Driving whilst using a hand-held telephone
Driving without a seat belt
Using a push bike without a helmet
If a matter is being heard in Court, it is not considered to be a minor offence. This is especially in circumstances of driving in breach of court orders.
It is important to consider that unpaid fines for minor offences can accumulate and receive further penalties. CityLink fines are an example of this. People may have accumulated fines to the value of thousands of dollars and have their matters listed before the Infringement Court.
To find out whether fines have lapsed and are in the Infringement Court, contact should be made to Fines Victoria. If the fines have reached a high value, contact a legal representative to consider options. This is important as some infringement matters can result in terms of imprisonment for otherwise minor offences.