Driving and Criminal Traffic Offences in Victoria
There is a wide range of criminal driving and traffic offences that a person can be charged with in Victoria.
The majority of traffic offences are considered minor summary matters and are heard in the Magistrates Court of Victoria. However, driving offences that involve serious injury or death are considered indictable matters and are heard in the County or Supreme Courts of Victoria.
Victoria has also implemented specific anti-hooning laws. These laws extend police powers to impound, immobilise or permanently seize a vehicle in relation to certain offences.
If you have been charged or are under investigation for a criminal driving offence, please contact Sher Criminal Lawyers immediately. Our team specialises in criminal traffic matters and is here to help you. We have years of experience advising and representing clients before the Magistrates’, County and Supreme Courts of Victoria.
- Careless Driving (s65):
Driving without the care and attention of a reasonable person, given the circumstances. Examples might include crashing due to tailgating, swerving, distraction or failing to stop. Carriers a maximum penalty of 12 units for a first offence and 25 units for a subsequent offence. Defendants may also be subject to a period of licence suspension.
- Dangerous Driving (s64):
Driving at speed or in a manner that is dangerous to the public, given the circumstances. Examples might include excessive speeding, burnouts or driving on the wrong side of the road. Carries a maximum penalty of 240 units or 2 years imprisonment or both. Also mandates disqualification from driving for a minimum period of 6-12 months.
- Driving Whilst Unlicensed, Suspended or Disqualified (s18 and s30):
Driving without an appropriate license. Maximum penalties range from 10 penalty units or 1-months imprisonment up to 240 penalty units or 2 years imprisonment, depending on the charge.
- Evading or Failing to Stop for Police (s64A):
Failing to stop the motor vehicle as soon as practically possible after being given directions by a police officer. Examples might include failing to pull over and stop at an RBT or ignoring the flashing lights on a police vehicle. Carries a maximum penalty of 60 units or 6 months imprisonment for a first offence; and 120 units or 12 months’ imprisonment for a subsequent offence. If found guilty, the driver will automatically be disqualified for a period of at least 6 months (first offence) or 12 months (subsequent offence).
- Failure to Report Accident to Police When Person Injured or Property Damaged (s61):
If an officer is not present at the scene of the accident, the driver involved must report the accident to the police if a person, animal or property is injured/damaged. Examples might include a collision that results in the other car being undrivable or the other driver hurting their neck. Maximum penalties range from 5 units or 14 days’ imprisonment to 240 units or 2 years imprisonment, depending on the circumstances of the offence.
- Improper Use of a Motor Vehicle and Loss of Traction (s65A):
Intentionally driving a motor vehicle in a way that causes one or more of the wheels to lose traction. Examples might include drifting, donuts and fishtailing. The maximum penalty is a fine of 5 units, but the Court also has the general discretion to suspend or cancel the driver’s licence.
- Providing False and Misleading Information (s84BI):
Giving false or misleading statements to the police, regarding the identity of a driver responsible for committing an offence in a motor vehicle registered to them. Examples might include providing a fake name or address in relation to a speeding offence or an accident. Carries a maximum penalty of 60 units for individuals and 120 units for body corporates.
The value of one penalty unit in Victoria is around $165.
- Culpable Driving (s318): Causing the death of another person by driving recklessly, negligently, or under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Carries a maximum penalty of 20 years’ imprisonment.
- Dangerous Driving Causing Death or Serious Injury (s319): Causing the death or serious injury of another person by driving at a speed or in a manner that is dangerous to the public given the circumstances. Carries a maximum penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment.
- Dangerous or Negligent Driving While Pursued by Police (s319AA): Driving in a dangerous or negligent manner after being directed to stop or pursued by a police officer. Carries a maximum penalty of 3 years’ imprisonment.
- Negligently Causing Serious Injury (s24): Negligently doing or omitting to do any act that causes another person to be seriously injured. Carries a maximum penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment.
- Reckless Conduct Endangering Life or Serious Injury (s22 and s23): Recklessly engaging in conduct that places or may place another person in danger of death or serious injury. Examples might include driving at such a high speed that the driver endangers the passengers in the car or the public. Carries a maximum penalty of 5 years’ imprisonment for endangering serious injury; and 10 years’ imprisonment for endangering life.
Victoria has specific anti-hooning laws. These laws give police the increased power to impound, immobilise or permanently seize a vehicle in relation to ‘relevant offences’.
Hoon laws are legislated under three pieces of Victorian legislation, being the Road Safety Act 1986 (Vic), the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic) and the Road Safety Rules 2009 (Vic).
‘Relevant offences’ are defined under s84C(1) of the Road Safety Act 1986 (Vic).
The Court Procedure for Driving and Traffic Offences in Victoria
If you have been charged with a criminal driving offence in Victoria, it is important to understand the various procedural paths that your case might take. This area of law is highly complex. If you need expert advice and representation, please contact our experienced traffic offence lawyers at Sher Criminal Lawyers. Find peace of mind knowing that your case is being professionally navigated towards the best possible outcome.
If you are charged with a minor driving offence, such as using a mobile whilst driving, you will most likely receive an infringement notice. This may be handed to you directly by a police officer or delivered in the post. The infringement notice is essentially a fine and will outline the amount, due date and other conditions.
Things to Consider When Charged with a Driving or Traffic Offence in Victoria
Things for the Accused to Consider
Our specialist team at Sher Criminal Lawyers can answer your questions and provide you with expert advice and representation in your driving matter. We will explain your legal options to you by answering important questions such as:
- Are there any legal defences available to me that might support my case?
- Does the prosecution have enough evidence to prove my driving charge?
- Will I lose points on my license?
- Could my license be suspended or cancelled?
- Does the Court have discretion over my disqualification from driving? Is a mandatory minimum disqualification period enforced?
- Is my traffic offence considered a criminal conviction?
Things that the Court Must Consider
If your matter is taken to Court, the Magistrate or Judge will have to consider a wide range of factors that might prove you to be guilty or not guilty. In all criminal driving matters, our experienced team at Sher Criminal Lawyers considers factors such as:
- The reason and circumstances behind why you potentially committed an offence;
- Evidence indicating who the driver of the car was;
- The condition of the road and traffic;
- The speed and nature of the driving;
- Any other elements of the offence noted in relevant legislation.
Penalties for Driving and Traffic Offences in Victoria
If you are found guilty of a criminal driving offence, the penalty you receive will depend on the seriousness of the offence, the relevant legislation and any discretion that the Court might have. The value of one penalty unit in Victoria is around $165.
Summary and serious traffic offences can carry penalties such as:
- A Good Behaviour Bond (Adjourned Undertaking)
- A criminal conviction
- A fine
- A temporary suspension or cancellation of your licence
- Participation in diversion programs
- Impoundment of your vehicle
- A Community Corrections Order
What to Do If You Are Charged with a Driving Offence in Victoria
If you have been charged or are under investigation for a driving or traffic offence, please contact Sher Criminal Lawyers immediately. We are here to help you achieve the best possible outcome in your matter.
Our team of specialist driving offence lawyers is extensively experienced in criminal driving matters. We frequently advise and represent clients in all kinds of traffic offence cases before the Magistrates, County and Supreme Courts of Victoria.
We are available 24/7 and offer free consultations by way of Zoom, Facetime or in person at our Melbourne and Moorabbin offices.