Road users should be aware of new traffic laws
Road users should be aware of new traffic laws
By National Criminal Lawyers
The Road Transport Amendment (Driver Licence Disqualification) Act 2017 Act introduced changes to the Road Transport Act 2013. These changes commenced at the end of October 2017. The changes go against the historical trend of increasing penalties and disqualification periods and are directed at reducing the harshness of the previous penalties and disqualification for driving offences. The reasons for the changes are seen in parliaments second reading speech and are as follows;
- “First, the current driver licence disqualification framework increases the risk of re-offending, with evidence showing longest qualifications are not a deterrent to unauthorized driving, and yet some people have disqualification periods of more than 10 years in addition to fines and imprisonment terms”.
- “Secondly, it has a serious adverse social impact, particularly on vulnerable people and people in regional and rural areas, as long disqualifications affect the ability to travel for education and employment purposes”.
- “Thirdly, it contributes to the over-representation of Aboriginal people in the criminal justice system, with more than 14 per cent of those sentenced and almost a third of those imprisoned for unauthorised driving identifying as Aboriginal”.
- “Fourthly, it is harsher by comparison with other jurisdictions”.
- “Fifthly, it imposes a significant burden on the criminal justice system, with about 12 per cent of people sentenced in New South Wales being sentenced for unauthorised driving offences, increasing pressure on the court and prison systems”.
The following problems were identified with disqualification laws:
- “First, long disqualification periods have a serious adverse impact on a person’s mobility, access to education, and access to essential goods and services”.
- “Secondly, disqualification from driving can also have a significant negative effect on a person’s employment prospects by removing a person’s transport to work or their ability to gain work-related skills. This is particularly the case in remote and regional areas of the State”.
- “Thirdly, disproportionate effects of unauthorised driving sanctions in regional parts of New South Wales are particularly acute for Aboriginal communities”.
Summary of selected amendments
- The Habitual Traffic Offender provisions were abolished;
- A new law regarding Licence Disqualifications was inserted. This law allows applications to be made to the Local Court for the removal of all licence disqualifications if the disqualified person has not been convicted of any driving offence during the relevant offence-free period before the removal of the licence disqualifications and the Court considers that it is appropriate to do so; and
- Reduction in penalties for unauthorised driving offences occurred including reduction in disqualification periods for driving
The following are the new disqualification penalties;
- Driving never licenced second offence is reduced to maximum disqualification of 12 months with the minimum disqualification being 3 months;
- Driving while disqualified, suspended or after licence refusal or cancellation fist offence is reduced to a maximum disqualification being 6 months with the minimum disqualification being 3 months;
- Driving while disqualified, suspended or after licence refusal or cancellation fist offence is reduced to a maximum disqualification being 12 months with the minimum being 6 months; and
- Driving after licence suspended or cancelled for non-payment of fine for first offence being a maximum disqualification of 3 months and minimum disqualification of 1 month
- Driving after licence suspended or cancelled for non-payment of fine second or subsequent offence Maximum disqualification of 12 months with the minimum disqualification being 3 months
On 1 July 2018, a series of new road safety laws also came into effect across New South Wales. The Bill making the changes is found in the Road Transport Legislation Amendment (Road Safety) Bill 2018.
New penalties/changes for DUI
The new Bill/amendment means that for a first offence, a maximum penalty of 30 penalty units, which is currently $3,300, or imprisonment for 18 months or both may be ordered by the court. In addition, an automatic licence disqualification period of three years would apply. The court may impose a longer or a shorter period of disqualification than the automatic period; however, it must not be shorter than 12 months.
In the case of a second or subsequent offence, 50 penalty units, which is currently $5,500, or imprisonment for two years or both may be ordered by the court. An automatic licence disqualification period of five years, with a minimum period of two years now apply.
Note: The maximum disqualifications are reserved for the worst category of offending.
New offence of driving with cocaine in system
The bill also adds cocaine to the three “prescribed illicit drugs”, cannabis—THC, speed/ice—methyl-amphetamine, and ecstasy—MDMA, that are currently tested during roadside drug enforcement, and will make it an offence to have cocaine present in oral fluid—saliva—when driving. This will make New South Wales the first jurisdiction in Australia to test through roadside oral fluid testing for this common illegal drug that can affect driving skills.
Mobile Phone camera detectors
The final amendments in the bill relate to the use of camera-based technology to enforce mobile phone offences. The New South Wales Road Rules 2014 prohibit mobile phone use by novice drivers and limit other licence holders’ phone use. Learner, P1 and P2 drivers are not permitted to use any function of their mobile phones while driving. Unrestricted licence holders can only make or receive calls or play music if this does not involve touching the phone or if the phone is in a cradle fixed to the vehicle. Heavy penalties, including double demerits, apply. While more than 40,000 infringements were issued by police for illegal mobile phone use in the 2016‑17 financial year, emerging automated camera and software technology will be used to supplement police enforcement and further deter motorists from using mobile phones illegally.
Why National Criminal Lawyers?
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There are Three (3) reasons to choose National Criminal Lawyers:
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No matter which option you choose National Criminal Lawyers can guarantee that a Senior Defence Lawyer will represent you. This means that with our over 20 years of Combined criminal law experience you will get the best result possible.
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At NCL we know that Criminal Law is a matter of Human Rights. For this reason, we take pride and passion in representing our clients. This pride and passion to assist those charged with an alleged or actual breach of the criminal law is to us a matter of righteous necessity and in that sense, you can always rest assured that National Criminal Lawyers are the best defenders of your rights. This true not only when the police have just simply got it wrong OR if they have got it right then we can speak with you and make sure you get you the best result available.
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