Do you need a traffic offences lawyer in Melbourne?
A quick glance at the Road Safety Act 1968 and associated regulations will tell you that traffic offences in Victoria are both voluminous and complex. Further, they change regularly. Whether you need a traffic lawyer will depend upon the seriousness of the charge, the range of available defences, and often most importantly – the impact upon your licence.
We sometimes appear for clients charged with minor offences such as failing to indicate or give way, using a mobile phone whilst driving or low-level speeding. Unless you wish to fight the matter, or there is a risk of losing your licence or receiving a significant penalty, we will usually advise clients charged with these offences that they are better off saving their money for any fine they might receive from the Court, rather than engaging a lawyer to represent them.
Our regular traffic appearances include drink or drug driving, careless or dangerous driving, high range speeding, reckless conduct endangering life and dangerous driving causing death or culpable driving. Having the right legal advice in these types of matters is crucial to achieving the best possible outcome.
At Anthony Isaacs Criminal Lawyers, we understand the complexities surrounding these traffic offences and the potential defences. Call us to discuss your case and we will provide you with an honest, free assessment and the options available to you.
What are mandatory penalties for traffic related offences?
Mandatory penalties are minimum sentences which legislation prescribes must be imposed by a Court if an accused is found guilty (including pleading guilty) of an offence. For example, with respect to driving matters, someone found guilty of a charge of drink-driving with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of 0.01, must receive a minimum of 10 months licence disqualification if it is their first offence (and 20 months if it is their second offence within 10 years).
Be aware, these are prescribed mandatory minimums; the Court can always impose a greater period of disqualification if the circumstances warrant such.
Mandatory minimum periods of suspension or disqualification apply in cases of:
- Drink driving
- Drug driving
- Dangerous driving
- Failing to stop a vehicle when directed
- Entering a level crossing when a train is approaching
Traffic offences where courts may not be required
Most minor traffic offences are dealt with by way of an Infringement Notice which simply carries a prescribed penalty in the form of a fine and often demerit points. Sometimes they will also carry an automatic suspension. If you are guilty of the offence, an Infringement Notice is advantageous, as it avoids a Court appearance; you simply pay the fine.
You do of course have the option of challenging the infringement and having the matter determined at Court, but should only elect to do so after consulting an expert criminal lawyer, as taking the matter to Court leaves you vulnerable to the range of sentences available to the Court. Offenders with poor driving records therefore may be better off simply paying the fine on the Infringement Notice rather than risk receiving a harsher penalty at Court.
Some traffic matters, such as speeding, are ‘strict liability offences’. If you are charged with a strict liability offence, the prosecution does not have to establish that you intended to commit the relevant offence. For more information on strict liability offences, read on here.
What are possible outcomes for traffic related offences?
Each case is different, and the outcome depends on what offences and infringements are being disputed. As above, for a traffic offence you can expect a combination of a fine, demerit points or licence suspension / disqualification. If you receive an Infringement notice, it will state the penalty. If the matter is heard in Court, a judicial registrar or Magistrate will determine the penalty, taking into consideration the circumstances of the offence, your prior driving history and your current personal and financial circumstances.
Impoundment and forfeiture of vehicles
For certain offending, particularly ‘hoon’ related, the Police may apply to the Court to have your vehicle impounded or forfeited. You should seek expert legal advice when faced with either of these applications.
Is speeding an offence in Victoria?
The Victorian Government takes cases of exceeding the speed limit seriously. If you are charged with exceeding the limit by more than 24km/h, you face mandatory licence suspension. Depending on the circumstances of your driving, you may also face criminal offences such as reckless conduct endangering serious injury or life.
What is the difference between ‘suspension’ and ‘disqualification’?
If your licence is suspended as a result of an Infringement Notice or Court outcome, then you must not drive for the specified period. Once that period elapses, you can resume driving. In this instance you still have a licence, but it is suspended.
If your licence is disqualified however, your licence is cancelled, and you must not apply to be relicensed for the specified period. After the period elapses, you must then apply to be relicensed before you can drive again. Usually the Court will place conditions on persons applying to be relicensed, such as the completion of a drink-driver education course or similar.
Request a free consultation
Call us today to discuss your case and we will provide you with an honest assessment and the options available to you.