Been charged with a traffic offence and unsure as to what your rights and options are? Get honest, expert advice on what to do next from the expert traffic offence lawyers at Stacks.
Being charged with a traffic offence, no matter how minor, can be stressful. Governments continue to crack down on driving offences and individuals can expect to face increasingly severe penalties. Having quality legal representation can make all the difference.
The unique circumstances of your case will determine your options. Stacks will explain the options available to you and the advantages and disadvantages of each. We will advise you on any available defences and work to minimise any penalty or license disqualification period. If you have had your license suspended by Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) or the police, there may be grounds to appeal the suspension in the Local Court.
Drink / drug driving charges
- Driving with a prescribed concentration of alcohol (PCA)A PCA charge will usually be laid if the police allege that you were breathalysed while in control of a vehicle, and the amount of alcohol in your system was over the legal limit for your particular licence.If you plead guilty, or are found guilty, then the maximum penalty will depend on how much alcohol was in your system at the time the offence was detected, and whether this is your first major traffic offence within the last five years. (See commonly asked questions below.)
- Drug drivingThis charge is likely to be laid if the police allege that you had cannabis, amphetamines, morphine or cocaine in your system while you were in control of a vehicle. This will generally be determined by a drug test (the “lick test”) or sometimes through a blood or urine test following an accident. It is important to bear in mind that the prosecution does not have to prove that you had a particular quantity of drugs in your system before you are considered guilty of this offence.In other words, even drugs that have been in your system for a long time could cause you to be charged with this offence. If you plead guilty, or you are found guilty, the maximum penalty for a first offence is a fine of $1,100. Automatic and minimum licence disqualification periods apply, of six and three months respectively.
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI)A DUI charge will usually be laid if the police allege that you were in control of a vehicle while affected by alcohol or drugs of any kind, but they have not been able to administer a test or get an accurate reading. If you plead guilty, or are found guilty, the maximum penalty for a first offence is a fine of $2,200 and/or imprisonment for nine months. Automatic and minimum licence disqualification periods apply, of 12 and six months respectively.
Other traffic charges
- Dangerous or reckless drivingThe maximum penalty for a first offence is a fine of $2,200 and/or imprisonment for nine months, in addition to a minimum licence disqualification period of 12 months. This is one of the more serious traffic offences and the penalty will take into account how potentially dangerous your actions were to others.
- SpeedingOften a speeding offence will just result in a fine and demerit points. The penalty will depend on how fast you were going, and other factors such as where you were speeding (eg the penalty is harsher if you were in a school zone). You can appeal the charge in the Local Court, but if the court finds you guilty you may face a harsher penalty, such as the loss of your licence if your speed was more than 30 kph over the speed limit. For driving more than 45 kph over the speed limit, the maximum penalty is a fine of $2,530 and/or a minimum disqualification period of six months.
- Driving while unlicensed or disqualifiedThe maximum penalty for a first offence is a fine of $3,300 and/or imprisonment for 18 months, and a minimum disqualification period of 12 months.
- Driver licence appealsIf you are issued with an immediate licence suspension notice, after you are detected drink driving, or exceeding the speed limit by more than 30km/h, it is possible to appeal the immediate licence suspension while the drink driving or speeding matter is resolved. You will need to show that there are “exceptional circumstances” warranting the appeal. People who hold an open licence cannot appeal a licence suspension due to an accumulation of demerit points. However, you may be eligible to enter a 12 month good behaviour bond in lieu of the demerit point suspension. However, be warned - if you accumulate more demerit points within the good behaviour period, your licence will be suspended for the double the time it otherwise would have been.