New South Wales is one of the strictest jurisdictions in Australia when it comes to punishing road offences. The rules can sometimes seem even more confusing than driving through the Sydney CBD, so we have put together a quick summary of the current state of affairs to help you understand some of the rules, enforcement, and punishments for road offences.
1. Increased Penalties in 2015
From 1 February 2015, the road rules in NSW changed to increase penalties for traffic offenders. For repeat offenders, if they lose their licence twice within the same five-year period, they will be forced to take a driver knowledge test and take a traffic offender intervention program, at their own cost.
These rules apply to those who exceed their demerit point allowances, as well as to drink driving offences.
2. Common Driving Offences
Speeding is by far the most common fine incurred by NSW motorists with over $132 million in speeding fines raised in the first 10 months of 2014. Most of these fell into the “speeding under 10km/h” band, with 258,000 fines for that offence.
Over 2000 fines were issued for speeding in excess of 45km/h over the limit, which also attracts mandatory licence suspension.
Over 16,000 fines were issued for not wearing a seatbelt, while almost 28,000 were handed out for mobile phone use while driving.
3. Consequences of Driving Offences
NSW operates a mandatory sentencing regime for the more serious driving offences, meaning that offenders will be convicted without any flexibility about the penalties if they are found guilty.
For example, speeding at more than 45km/h above the speed limit will result in disqualification from driving for a period of six months. For speeding between 30km/h and 45km/h the disqualification period is three months. The fines for speeding at these levels are between $800 and $3700.
4. Avoiding a Criminal Record
The sentencing laws in NSW allow for a “section 10” exemption to the recording of a criminal charge even if found guilty of an offence. This is especially important for many people, as it can affect their ability to get a job, obtain a loan, or even hire a car.
However, this is a rarely used power by the courts. A person who is convicted of an offence who has any past record of traffic offences is highly unlikely to get the benefit of a section 10 exemption.
5. Factors That Courts Consider
In determining a sentence for a traffic offence (that does not have a mandatory sentence attached to it) courts consider a range of factors. These can include what the maximum penalty is, factors that should increase or reduce the sentence, the past record of the offender, the conduct of the offender after the offence, and any impact on the community or victim(s).
Navigating the legal system after a traffic offence can be confusing and time consuming. If you would like further help regarding a traffic offence, please do not hesitate to get in contact with one of our experienced lawyers today, via our contact page or on 96170737.