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Traffic Offences

Traffic Offences

Usually, minor traffic offences are dealt with as infringement offences. You will probably have to pay a fine, and in some cases could even have your licence suspended, but you won’t get a conviction on your criminal record. However, in some cases, you might be charged and have to go to District Court.

This section is about traffic offences that will land you in court.

What should I do if I am charged with a minor traffic offence?

If you’re charged with a minor traffic offence that you can’t be imprisoned for, you can choose to write a letter to the court instead of going in to say whether you’re guilty or not guilty or you can go to court to plead your case on the court date which is what most people do and is what is recommended.

If you plead not guilty, then you will likely have to physically go into court. If you plead guilty, you can still be asked to go to court for your sentencing. If you don’t do either of these things, then a judge will decide on your sentence without you being there.

What is the difference between pleading guilty and not guilty?

Pleading guilty means you accept the charge and agree you have broken the law that you have been charged with, along with information or evidence that has been submitted against you.
After pleading guilty, a judge will sentence you and you will have a conviction on your record.

If you plead not guilty, that means you don’t agree with the information or evidence that you’ve been charged with. If you choose to plead not guilty, you’ll need to defend your case (bring a case as to why you disagree). You will usually be asked to prepare your case and to plead your case on a later date. You’ll need to explain why or how you didn’t break the law, or the evidence is incorrect, and it is recommended that you get a lawyer to represent you if you plead not guilty.

What are important things to mention in court for a driving case?

If you think they’re relevant, you can include:

  • How long you’ve been driving;
  • If you’ve never had a ticket before;
  • If you’ve done a Defensive Driving Course;
  • If this is your first offence;
  • If you’ve been hurt physically;
  • If no-one else was injured;
  • If the weather conditions contributed to the accident;
  • That you have learnt your lesson and are sorry (if you’re pleading guilty);
  • That you’re suffering financially because of the debt you now have as a result of the incident.

What is the penalty for speeding?

Speeding is usually dealt with as an infringement offence if you’re going less than 50km/h over the speed limit (eg. 90km/h in a 50km/h area). This means you’ll get a fine and demerit points. The amount will depend on how much over the speed limit you were going. A fine will be between $30 and $630, and demerit points will be between 10 – 50 points.

Travelling at 40km/h or more above the speed limit could have your licence suspended for 28 days.

If you speed by more than 50km/h over the speed limit, it is likely that you’ll be charged and have to go to court. The charge could be for careless, dangerous or reckless driving.

What is careless driving and what is the penalty?

Careless driving is driving any vehicles (including a skateboard, roller skates or a scooter) without thinking about how your driving might affect others, or not using the care and attention that a reasonable driver would. This could include speeding, not indicating when turning, or not following other road rules. It also includes driving in a way that does not suit the conditions (weather, light, traffic flow, etc.).

You could be fined up to $3,000 for careless driving and could be disqualified from driving. It’s more common to get a fine of around $150 – $200, and paying court costs of $130. You will get a conviction to your criminal record if found guilty unless you have received diversion.

What if I hurt or kill someone while driving?

If you cause injury or death while driving carelessly, the penalty is much worse – a maximum of 3 months imprisonment and/or a fine up to $4,500 and compulsory disqualification for at least 6 months.

The penalty is even more serious if you cause injury or death and were driving dangerously or recklessly (e.g.  you were excessively speeding, overtaking or driving on the wrong side of the road at the time).

What is dangerous or reckless driving and what is the penalty like?

If you drive in a way that could be dangerous to anyone, you could be charged with dangerous driving. If you’re driving dangerously either on purpose or completely ignoring how dangerous it is, you could be charged with reckless driving.

For either dangerous or reckless driving, you could be fined up to $4,500 or imprisoned for up to 3 months, and you will have your licence disqualified for at least 6 months if found guilty.

What happens if I injure or kill someone while driving dangerously or recklessly?

If you are convicted of reckless or dangerous driving causing injury the sentence may be up to 5 years in prison, and a fine of up to $20,000 as well as having your licence disqualified for 1 year or more.

If you kill someone as a result of reckless or dangerous driving, you could be charged with reckless or dangerous driving causing death and receive up to 10 years in prison or a fine of up to $20,000 as well as disqualification of your licence for 1 year or more. But, if there were aggravating factors for example – fooling around on the road or drinking before the accident, you could also be charged with manslaughter (killing someone without prior intent).

 

 

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