In Victoria, there are numerous offences that fall under the category of traffic or driving offences. These range from low-level offending, to more serious offences where collisions have occurred and people have been injured or property has been damaged.
When it comes to a traffic fine, whether you should fight it and how to go about fighting it will depend on the offence and the individual circumstances of your case. If you are unsure about what to do, seek advice from experienced traffic offence lawyers who can advise you on the best course of action.
The Road Safety Act 1986 (Vic) is the main piece of legislation governing traffic law in Victoria. Most traffic offences are punishable by fine, but those that are considered more serious carry penalties of imprisonment. If you do receive a fine for a traffic offence, the amount of your fine will depend on the offence itself. Some of the most common driving offences for which people receive a fine follow.
Speeding is a traffic offence that can result in you receiving a fine, losing demerit points and in some cases, losing your licence.
If you are found to be speeding less than 25kph over the speed limit, you will receive an infringement notice and will automatically incur demerit points.
If you are a full licence holder with a good driving record you may apply to the Penalty Review Office for a warning to replace your fine for a speeding offence.
In the case of speeding that exceeds the speed limit by more than 25kph you will lose your licence. The period of time for which you lose your licence will be determined by your speed. If you are travelling between 25 and 35kph over the limit you will be suspended for 3 months. If you are travelling between 35 and 44 kph over the limit you will be suspended for 6 months. If you are travelling 45 kph over the limit you will be suspended for 12 months.
In the event you do not accept that the speed you are alleged to have travelled at is correct you can elect to have your matter determined at Court. You have 28 days after you have received a penalty infringement to do this.
Before you elect to take a matter to Court you should obtain legal advice. The primary reason for this is that cases involving allegations of speeding are very difficult to contest. Accordingly, before you elect to take a speeding matter to court you will want to determine whether or not you have an arguable defence worth pursuing or whether you can make a meaningful impact on any licence suspension you may have received.
Drink driving, drug driving & DUI
Drink driving, drug driving or DUI offences can carry significant penalties but are often dealt with by way of penalty infringement notice and an automatic licence suspension. For example, a drink driving case involving a prescribed alcohol concentration of less than 0.1 or a case where a person is found to have drugs in their system will usually be dealt with by way of infringement and automatic loss of licence, particularly for first time offenders.
Again, if you do not accept that offence for which you have received a penalty infringement you can elect to have your matter determined at Court. You have 28 days after you have received a penalty infringement to do this.
Before you elect to take a drink or drug driving matter to court you will want to determine whether or not you have an arguable defence worth pursuing. Accordingly, you should seek legal advice before doing so.
What to do if you are issued with a traffic fine
If you are issued with a fine there are a number of options available to you. In order to work out what your best option is you should seek legal advice from an expert in traffic offence law. The various options you may have follow.
- You can pay the fine and accept the other consequences that flow from the offence (e.g. licence suspension or the loss of demerit points)
- Where you have received a fine for a low level speeding offence and are a full licence holder with a good driving record you may apply to the Penalty Review Office for a warning to replace your fine for a speeding offence
- If you are of the view that you have an arguable defence you can elect to take your matter to court. You must do this within 28 days of receiving your penalty infringement notice
- In certain circumstances where such an option is available to you, that is where you are clear that you were not driving the vehicle at the time the offence is alleged to have occured, you can nominate the person who was driving your car at the time of the offence and the fine will then be re-addressed to the correct individual.
If you have been charged with a driving offence and are issued with a traffic fine, you should seek advice from an experienced traffic offence lawyer as to whether and how you can fight the fine.
Depending on the offence, your lawyer may advise against fighting the traffic fine. For example, if you have received a fine for a speeding offence it is rarely the case that you will have an arguable defence. However, there are some circumstances where you will, such as where you were not the driver, where the basis for the speeding allegation is a police vehicle following you for a period of time and assessing your speed on the basis of the speed at which their vehicle is travelling or where the device used to record your speed is found to be faulty.
When you receive a fine for a driving offence and are considering electing to take it to court make sure you obtain advice from an experienced traffic lawyer before you make that decision. Doing so will save you time and money if you do not have a defence and if you do then you will be in a better position to successfully run your defence.
At Stary Norton Halphen, our lawyers are experienced in traffic law matters and will be able to provide you with the guidance and expertise you require in determining whether or not to take a matter to court.