What Are my Obligations as a Driver of a Motor Vehicle?

Different obligations come with being either the driver or owner of a motor vehicle. Often, these are enlivened when a vehicle is involved in an accident or some other sort of criminal offence, though some exist from the moment driving commences. Below we examine the responsibilities of a driver, particularly should they interact with Police or be involved in an traffic incident.

Assuming for the moment the person is in control of the vehicle (which is a whole topic in itself), the first obligation, unsurprisingly, is to be licensed to drive the vehicle they are in. Secondly, all drivers have an obligation to drive in a safe manner “having regard to all the relevant factors”, which include weather, visibility, condition of the vehicle and road it is on, traffic conditions, and the physical and mental condition of the driver themselves.1

Further obligations arise where Police members, or other authorised persons, are giving directions. Perhaps most basic is the duty to stop. It is an offence not to follow a direction to stop as soon as practicable after the direction is given, and remain stopped until directed to proceed.2 Breaches of these obligations carry significant penalties; first time offenders will see their driver licence cancelled, and be disqualified from obtaining it for at least six months.3

Another common obligation is to produce your driver licence or learner permit and state your name and address if requested by Police.4 Whilst drivers may have a reasonable excuse at times for not being able to produce either document upon request, it is only a defence to the charge if they also provide an example of their signature, and later, the document to Police within seven days.5

If a vehicle is involved in an accident which causes injury or damage, the driver has several obligations which include (i) immediately stopping their vehicle, (ii) immediately rendering assistance, (iii) exchanging their name and address (and that of the owner of the vehicle) and the registration to anyone injured or the owner of the damage property (or their representative).6 Further, they must give this information to any Police officer present at the scene of the accident. If someone is injured and no officer is on the scene, the driver must report the details of the accident to the nearest Police Station, similarly for damaged property where neither the owner nor their representative are present.

The obligations of drivers continue once they have parked and left the vehicle too. If a vehicle moves “of its own accord” from where it was left, and an accident occurs which causes injury or damage, the driver must comply with the above “as soon as possible after becoming aware of the accident”.7



1 Section 17A(2A)
2 Section 64A(1)
3 Section 64A(3)(b)
4 Section 59(1)(ab)
5 Section 59(3)
6 Section 61(1)
7 Section 61(2)

Tom Isaacs

Tom Isaacs

Bachelor of Laws with Honours - LLB(Hons)

Tom has been part of the firm for the past 10 years, working initially as a law clerk and now as a fully qualified Solicitor. He completed his Bachelor of Laws with Honours at Deakin University, and undertook his legal training at the Leo Cussen Insititute where he was president of his class. Tom appears regularly at Magistrates' Courts, both metropolitan and in regional Victoria.