Being charged with a traffic offence that could result in a criminal conviction and severe penalties can be extremely stressful and have a devastating impact on your life, family and career. Richard Wise can assist you through this difficult time.
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI)
The categories of drink driving offences are novice, special, low-range, mid-range and high-range with each offence carrying different penalties and suspension periods.
It is also an offence to drive under the influence of drugs or with the presence of certain illicit drugs in a person’s oral fluid, blood or urine.
All DUI offences prescribe an automatic minimum and maximum period of licence disqualification, monetary fines and, for serious offences, imprisonment. More severe penalties apply if a person has a previous history of major traffic offences.
As the Court has discretion to impose a lesser penalty for a DUI offence, it is important to understand the circumstances under which a Court might consider reducing a penalty and prepare accordingly.
The Court may also prove the charge but not proceed with a conviction. In this case the charge is dismissed either unconditionally or subject to conditions such as a good behaviour bond. No criminal conviction is recorded, and no penalty imposed.
Refuse breath / drug analysis
Refusal to submit to a roadside breath test / sobriety check can result in arrest and subsequent request for a breath analysis or drug testing.
Refusal to submit to a further breath analysis after having given an initial positive reading is a criminal offence and carries the same penalties as a high-range PCA offence.
Similarly, the penalties for refusing to comply with a request for a test, analysis or assessment for a prescribed illicit drug are generally equivalent to the maximum penalty for the substantive offences.
Dangerous / negligent driving
Dangerous and / or negligent driving falls within a range of serious categories considered to be major offences. These include:
- furious / reckless driving;
- predatory / menacing driving;
- hoon offences / burnouts;
- police pursuits;
- negligent / dangerous driving causing death or grievous bodily harm.
Grave penalties apply for these offences and each case is determined in accordance with the surrounding circumstances. These matters can be very complex with the accused often facing a series of offences listed in the Court Attendance Notice.
Good Behaviour Licences
Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) has the power to suspend or cancel a driver’s licence.
A Good Behaviour Licence may be available for unrestricted licence holders who face cancellation of their licence for exceeding the permitted demerit points, and who accumulate 13 or more points in a 3-year period.
The licence is not available for provisional or international licence holders or for criminal driving offences such as DUI, driving while disqualified or suspended, and negligent driving.
The licence operates for 12 months during which time the holder may not accumulate 2 or more demerit points, otherwise the licence will be cancelled and the original suspension period doubled.
Licence and speeding appeals
Some traffic offences issued by the RMS or police may be appealed in Court. These are:
- an RMS suspension for exceeding the speed limit by 30 km per hour or 45 km per hour;
- on the spot suspensions issued by the police for exceeding the speed limit by over 45 km per hour;
- a decision by the RMS to suspend a P1 or P2 driver’s licence for loss of demerit points.
The Court takes into consideration the surrounding circumstances of the offence including any extenuating circumstances, the driver’s prior record, character and need for a licence.
Going to Court
The outcome of a traffic matter may be improved by ensuring the person facing Court is properly informed and equipped to answer the charges. Obtaining dependable legal advice can make a big difference.
Many traffic offences have automatic disqualification periods. These penalties may be reduced if there is appropriate reason to do so. This requires supporting evidence and a well-prepared case. The Court will generally consider the person’s:
- character, work history, prior criminal history and family circumstances;
- involvement in the community;
- underlying medical (or other) issues relevant to the offence;
- reliance on a driver’s licence for work or other reasons such as the need to travel for ongoing medical treatment and the consequential impact the loss of a licence has or will have.