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TRAFFIC OFFENCES

OFFENCES RELATING TO LICENCES

Driving without holding a licence, or during a period when you have been disqualified from holding or obtaining a driver's licence, are serious offences. Some other offences relating to drivers' licences are as follows:

Failing to change name and address

A holder of a driver's licence must notify Queensland Transport within 28 days of changing that person's name or address. If the person fails to do this, they are liable to a fine. The maximum fine is $1,500.00. However, the fine would usually only be minimal, such as $100.00 or $200.00.

Failing to obtain a replacement Licence

If a person loses their driver's licence, or if the driver's licence is stolen or destroyed, then the person must apply to Queensland Transport for a new licence, as soon as practicable. If the person fails to do this, then they are liable to pay a fine. The maximum fine is $1,500.00.

If the licence that had been replaced is later found, or otherwise comes into the possession of the person, then they must return this to the Queensland Transport. The maximum penalty for failing to do this is $1,500.00.

Defacing or destroying a Licence

If a person wilfully defaces or destroys a Queensland Driver's Licence, then they are liable to a penalty. The maximum penalty is $1,500.00. 

ACCUMULATION OF DEMERIT POINTS

In Queensland, holders of drivers' licences are allocated a certain number of points which, if they lose due to the commission of traffic offences, they lose their licence. Different licences are allocated a different number of demerit points. 

PROVISIONAL LICENCES

If the holder of a provisional licence accumulates 4 or more demerit points in a continuous one (1) year period, then the licence will be cancelled. The effect of the cancellation of the licence in these circumstances is that the person is disqualified from holding or obtaining a Queensland driver's licence for a period of three (3) months after the licence is physically returned to Queensland Transport. If the licence that is cancelled was the first licence granted after the person's previous provisional licence was cancelled due to an accumulation of demerit points, then they will be disqualified for a period of six (6) months.

The cancellation of a provisional licence can be appealed against. 

OPEN LICENCES

If the holder of an open licence accumulates 12 or more points in a continuous three (3) year period, then Queensland Transport will write to that person, and require the person to choose between one of the following options:

  • having their licence suspended for three (3) months; or
  • having their licence cancelled, and, in its place, having a provisional licence issued, with only two (2) demerit points allocated to it.

In both cases, the person will have to return the person's open licence to a Queensland Transport office within the time specified in the letter. If the person cannot do this, they must provide a statutory declaration stating why they cannot do this. For example, they may have lost their licence.

It is an offence not to comply with the letter issued by Queensland Transport. The maximum penalty for this offence is $1,500.00. 

2 POINT PROVISIONAL LICENCES

A person issued with a 2 point provisional licence must not accumulate 2 or more demerit points in a continuous one (1) year period. If they do so, then the licence will be cancelled and they will be disqualified from holding or obtaining a driver's licence for six (6) months after the licence is returned to Queensland Transport. 

UNLICENSED DRIVING

It is an offence to drive a motor vehicle on a road unless the person driving the vehicle is the holder of a driver's licence authorising the person to drive the vehicle. The maximum penalty for this offence is $3,000.00 or six-(6) months imprisonment. 

DISQUALIFIED DRIVING

If a person drives whilst they are disqualified from holding or obtaining a driver's licence, they commit an offence, which attracts a maximum penalty of $2,550.00, or eighteen (18) months imprisonment. The offence of disqualified driving is far more serious than the offence of unlicensed driving. This is because the offence of disqualified driving involves, to some extent, contempt for a prior court order, or a decision made pursuant to the law that a person's licence should be disqualified. 

CARELESS DRIVING

A person who drives a motor vehicle on a road or elsewhere without due care and attention or without reasonable consideration for other persons using the road or place commits the offence of careless driving, and is guilty of an offence. The maximum penalty for this offence is $3,000.00, or six (6) months imprisonment.

Unlike the offences of unlicenced driving, or disqualified driving the offence applies to other areas that do not fall within the definition of a road. A person can be convicted of careless driving as a result of driving on private property. 

RACING IN SPEED TRIALS ON ROADS

It is an offence for a person to organise, promote, or take part in any of the following:

  • race between vehicles or animals on a road;
  • attempt to establish or break any vehicle or animal speed record on a road;
  • trial of the speed of a vehicle or animal on a road; or
  • competitive trial designed to test the skill of any vehicle driver or the reliability of a mechanical condition of any vehicle on any road where a prize or trophy of other benefit or advantage in excess of the value of $100.00 may be won by a competitor.

Persons convicted of this offence face a maximum penalty of $3,000.00, or six months imprisonment. It is a defence to the charge to show that the holding or making of the race, attempt, or trial has been authorised in writing by the Commissioner of Police.

This offence relates to people participating in "drag races" on roads. The offence does not extend to drivers who take part in such races on private property. 

DANGEROUS OPERATION OF A MOTOR VEHICLE

It is an offence for a person to operate a vehicle dangerously in any place. It is also an offence for a person to interfere with the operation of a vehicle dangerously in any place. The maximum penalty is $15,000.00, or three (3) years imprisonment. See the Dangerous Driving Information Outline. 

DRINK DRIVING

The laws in Queensland relating to drink driving are quite complicated, and are dealt with in THE drink Driving / Dangerous Driving Information Outlines. 

SPEEDING AND OTHER TRAFFIC OFFENCES

There are numerous other traffic offences in Queensland, for example, speeding. These offences are not mentioned here. Most traffic offences are known as ticketable offences. This means that a person can be charged by a police officer simply issuing a ticket (or traffic infringement notice), on the spot. Further, the fines and demerit points that apply to ticketable offences are standard. 

MOBILE TELEPHONES

Recent changes to the laws in Queensland effect the use of mobile telephones. The driver of a vehicle is not able to use a hand-held mobile telephone while the vehicle is moving, or whilst the vehicle is stationary, but not parked. However, this does not apply to a "hands-free" mobile phone, a CB radio, or any other two-way radio. The maximum fine for using a mobile telephone whilst driving is $1,500.00. 

POWER OF POLICE OFFICERS TO MAKE INQUIRIES INTO CERTAIN ROAD INCIDENTS

A police officer is able to make such inquiries and investigations as the officer deems necessary or desirable for the purpose of ascertaining full particulars relating to:

  • any person, vehicle, tram, train, or animal, or other property involved in any incident; and
  • the cause or causes at such incident; and
  • the circumstances of the incident.

The police officer can carry out such inspection, examination or test of any vehicle, tram, train, or animal as the officer considers necessary or desirable to make the inquiries and investigations into the incident.

A person who fails or refuses to provide information within that person's knowledge, or provide information which the person knows to be false, to a police officer making inquiries and investigations into an incident commits an offence, and is liable to a penalty. The maximum penalty is $3,000.00, or six (6) months imprisonment. 

POWER TO REQUIRE NAME AND ADDRESS, AND TO PRODUCE LICENCE

A police officer can require a person to stop, produce their driver's licence, and state the person's name and address, and supply evidence of the correctness of the person's name and address, if the police officer:

  • finds the person committing, or reasonably suspects that the person has committed an offence;
  • is making inquiries or investigations for the view to establishing whether or not an offence has been committed by any person;
  • is of the opinion that the person was present at the scene of any incident on a road in which any vehicle, tram, or animal was involved, which resulted in the death of or injury to any person or damage to any property, and that the person may be able to give information or evidence in relation to that incident; or
  • is of the opinion that the name and address of any person is necessary for the purpose of the police officer carrying out their functions or duties.

DUTIES OF DRIVERS INVOLVED IN ANY ROAD INCIDENTS

The driver of any vehicle, tram or animal involved in an incident resulting in injury to or death of any person or damage to any property has an obligation to:

  • immediately stop the vehicle, tram, or animal that they are driving;
  • if any person is injured, remain at or near the scene of the incident and immediately render such assistance as the driver can to the injured person and make reasonable endeavours to obtain such medical and other aid as may reasonably be required for the injured person;
  • if there is property damaged in excess of $5,000.00, report in person the full particulars of the incident at the police station nearest to the scene of the incident;
  • if any person is dead or apparently dead exhibit proper respect for the person's body and take whatever steps are reasonably practicable to have the body removed to an appropriate place.
  • If a driver fails to observe these obligations, he is liable to a fine of $1,500.00 or imprisonment for one (1) year if death or injury is caused to any person in the incident, or, in all other cases, to a fine of $750.00, or six (6) months imprisonment.

PARKING

Generally, parking and parking laws are regulated by local government authorities. Local governments, such as the Brisbane City Council, or the Cairns City Council, are able to regulate the following aspects of parking:

  • the times when a vehicle may or must not be parked in a specific area;
  • fees required to be paid, if any, for a vehicle to be parked in a specific area;
  • types of vehicles that may or must not be parked in a specific area;
  • the purposes for which a vehicle may or must not be parked in a specific area.

An integral part of the regulation of parking involves the erection of official parking signs. Parking signs may apply to parking at or near the place where the sign is installed, or for a larger area such as a central business district.

If a person contravenes a parking law, then they may be fined. The maximum fine that a local government authority can impose in relation to a parking offence is $3,000.00. However, parking fines are generally far less than this. An important point to know is that the owner of the vehicle that is involved in the parking offence is deemed to have committed that parking offence, (even if he/she was not the person in control of the car at that time) and may be punished accordingly.

If a person is charged with a parking offence, they will be issued with an infringement notice. It is acceptable for the infringement notice to be left on a conspicuous area of the vehicle, such as on the windscreen of the vehicle. Parking offences are ticketable offences. 

WHEELING CLAMPING

Wheel clamping has become an increasingly controversial topic over the past few years. The law relating to wheel clamping in Queensland was not clear cut for a long time. However, the Parliament of Queensland, in 1997, took steps to ban wheel clamping.

Wheel clamping is the practice of detaining a vehicle that is parked, using an immobilising device, usually called a wheel clamp. Wheel clamping usually occurs on private property, where the owner of the private property engages a wheel clamping company to clamp vehicles which are parked on the private property, without the owner's consent. The owner or driver of the vehicle is then expected to pay a fee to enable the vehicle to be released. It is generally impossible to remove the wheel clamp without damaging either the wheel clamp, or the vehicle.

It is an offence for a person to detain a vehicle parked or stopped, without the owner's consent, by attaching an immobilising device to the vehicle, or placing an immobilising device near the vehicle. Immobilising devices include wheel clamps. The maximum penalty for this offence is a fine of $3,000.00, or six (6) months imprisonment. 

FURTHER INFORMATION 

This Information Outline is available courtesy of AussieLegal's online legal information and law firm referral service. 

If you want further information, we recommend contacting the law firm of Ryan & Bosscher Lawyers who specialize in this area of law. They are located at 3rd floor, Bank of NSW Chambers, 33 Queen Street, Brisbane 4000, or call them on (07) 3229 3166. 

Ryan and Bosscher, Lawyers, is a specialist Criminal Law firm committed to providing quality service to clients. There are very few firms practising exclusively in the area of Criminal Defence, and with a reputation of hard headedness, dogged determination and fearlessness, Ryan and Bosscher has become the premier Criminal Defence firm in Queensland, committed to Justice and the protection of an individual's rights. Our specialisation ensures provision of the highest standard of representation to any person charged with a criminal offence. Our familiarity with Criminal Law also ensures that Counsel briefed for complex advocacy matters are also highly qualified in the Criminal Defence field.

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