Penalties for traffic offences include fines, disqualification from holding or applying for a licence, licence cancellation, refusal or suspension, passenger restrictions and in extreme cases, imprisonment.
Demerit points for traffic offences
If you break traffic laws, you can be fined and receive demerit points (up to a limit after which your licence will be suspended). Speeding, not wearing a seatbelt and not wearing a motorcycle helmet attract double demerit points during holiday periods. Demerit points are added even if you receive a court disqualification. However, if the court dismisses the case under Section 10(1) of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999, the points won’t apply.
Penalties for speeding increase depending on how much you exceed the limit and include demerit points, fines and suspension. The minimum penalty is 1 demerit point.
Over the speed limit by 30km/h and 45km/h
If you go over the speed limit by:
- Between 30km/h and 45km/h you will get at least 5 demerit points, a large fine and your licence will be suspended for at least 3 months
- More than 45km/h you will get at least 6 demerit points, a larger fine and your licence will be suspended for at least 6 months
If your licence is suspended for speeding, RMS will advise you when the suspension starts. Suspension will occur even if your demerit points are under the relevant limit. Your suspension will be longer should the demerit points for a speeding offence bring your total points to or over the relevant limit.
Other serious driving offences
More serious driving offences may result in a court disqualification (up to five years or longer) or imprisonment. These offences include:
- Driving or attempting to drive under the influence of drugs
- Driving or attempting to drive when your BAC is over your legal limit
- Refusing to take a breath test
- Not stopping after a crash in which someone was injured or killed
- Driving at a dangerous speed or in a dangerous manner
Speed measuring devices, such as radar detectors, are not permitted in vehicles or trailers. Large fines and demerit points apply.
Negligent or dangerous driving causing injury or death
Serious charges can be applied for driving in a negligent or dangerous manner that causes injury or death. The charges for injuring someone include imprisonment (up to 7 years), heavy fines and disqualification. The charges for killing someone include imprisonment (up to 10 years) and heavier fines. The maximum penalties increase by up to 4 years if ‘aggravating circumstances’ are proved to exist including:
- Driving more than 45km/h over the speed limit
- Having a BAC of 0.15 or more
- Driving a vehicle to escape police
Street or drag racing
If the police suspect you have been involved in racing, they may take possession of your vehicle on-the-spot, and suspend and confiscate your licence. If convicted, you will get a large fine and your vehicle can be impounded for up to 3 months (you are required to pay these costs). A second conviction can mean your vehicle may be taken from you and sold. Under the demerit points scheme, 3 demerit points apply to the offence of a ‘burnout’.
Drink driving penalties increase according to the BAC detected and include:
- Large fines that increase if a second offence is committed
- Immediate licence suspension
- Prison terms that increase when a second offence is committed
- A period of disqualification from driving, up to a lifetime disqualification
Driving without a licence
You can receive an on-the-spot fine for driving with:
- A licence that has expired
- The wrong class of licence for the vehicle you are driving
- An interstate or overseas licence more than 3 months after becoming a permanent resident of NSW
Worse penalties apply if you are convicted of driving while serving a non-driving period for being disqualified from holding or obtaining a driver licence, or when your licence has been cancelled, refused or suspended. Offences are heard in front of a magistrate at a local court and penalties include a large fine, a prison term of up to 18 months and disqualification from driving. Heavier penalties apply for second or subsequent offences within a 5-year period. Penalties apply for letting an unlicensed person drive your vehicle.
Failing to pay a fine by the due date will result in a referral to the State Debt Recovery Office (SDRO). The RMS will be advised to suspend your licence and/or cancel your vehicle registration and refuse to do certain dealings with you until all fines are paid. If your licence has been suspended and you pay the SDRO, RMS will lift the suspension and send a letter advising that you may resume driving. Some fines may be paid at a registry or service centre and the suspension lifted immediately.
Payment not made after 6 months of licence suspension can lead to the SDRO directing RMS to cancel your licence meaning you will need to apply for a new licence when the fines are paid. Any demerit points you had are carried over when the suspension is lifted or when you get a new licence.
Fines apply for not paying a toll notice. If you do not pay a toll you will be sent a notice requesting toll payment plus an administration fee. If you do not pay this, a final notice will be sent requesting payment of the toll plus an additional administration fee. If you do not pay the notice, you may be issued with a penalty notice.
Littering from vehicles
A vehicle owner is deemed liable for littering unless they provide a statutory declaration of the details of the person in charge of the vehicle at the time. Heavy fines may apply when litter is thrown or lost from a vehicle.
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