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  • Home Resources & Technical Articles Driving & Traffic Offences Failing to Stop for Police Offences Failing to Stop for Police Offences and Penalties in the Northern Territory (NT)

    Failing to Stop for Police Offences and Penalties in the Northern Territory (NT)

    The primary duty of the police is to ensure that people abide by the rules and regulations of the state. One of the ways to achieve this duty involves having the authority to stop vehicles.

    As a result of this state-given authority, drivers must bring their vehicles to a halt after receiving an order from the police to do so. Going against this order is a crime and may result in jail time for the offender.

    The rules and sanctions for failing to stop the vehicle after receiving the order from the police are enshrined in the Motor Vehicle Act 1949 (NT), Traffic Act 1987 (NT) and the Criminal Code Act 1983 (NT).

    This article will discuss the law on failing to stop after receiving an order from the police. It will explain the penalties and possible defences for failing to stop after the police have given the order.

    If an individual is convicted in a WA court for a failing to stop for police offence, the offence will show up as a disclosable court outcome (DCO) on a national criminal background check in the NT.

    What the Law Says Regarding Failing to Stop for the Police

    The Traffic Act 1987 (NT), Motor Vehicle Act 1949 (NT) and the Criminal Code Act 1983 (NT) explain the offence of failing to stop after the police have given the order. These Acts state the following:

    #1. Dangerous Driving During Pursuit

    Section 174FB of the Criminal Code Act 1983 (NT) states that it is an offence for a person to drive dangerously while evading the police after receiving an instruction from the police to stop the vehicle. This offence attracts a maximum of 5 years imprisonment.

    However, before the court can convict a person for this crime, the prosecution must establish that:

    • A police officer ordered the accused to stop their vehicle.
    • The defendant was aware of this order.
    • The accused refused to comply with the order.
    • The police officer went in pursuit of the accused.
    • The accused drove dangerously in the process of trying to escape the police.

    It is important to note that dangerous driving in this section refers to driving while under the influence or at a dangerous speed. Also, a pursuit does not necessarily mean that the police were going at the same speed the accused was.

    #2. When Police Can Pull Driver Over at Random

    As per Section 29AAB of the Traffic Act 1987 (NT), the police can order a driver to pull their motor vehicle over. They do not need to have a reasonable belief that the driver has committed an offence.

    Under this section, the purpose of pulling a car over could be for the police to conduct a breath or saliva test. This test is to determine if a person is driving under the influence of an intoxicating substance.

    As such, it is compulsory for a person to bring their vehicle to a halt after receiving the order from the police. Failure to adhere can result in a maximum of 10 penalty units or 12 months imprisonment if it is a first-time offence.

    On the other hand, a second or subsequent offence attracts a maximum of 20 penalty units or 12 months imprisonment.

    Also, failing to pull over can lead to the court disqualifying a person from obtaining or possessing a licence. The disqualification period depends on if the person is a first-time or a repeat offender.

    A first-time offender will receive a disqualification for 12, while a repeat offender gets an 18 months disqualification.

    Nevertheless, before an NT court can convict a person for the crime under this section, the prosecution will need to prove that:

    • The defendant drove a motor vehicle on the road.
    • A police officer ordered the defendant to pull their vehicle over to conduct a breath or saliva test.
    • The defendant was aware of this order and refused to pull over.

    #3. Power of Officers in Ensuring the Safety of Public Streets and Public Places for Road Users

    Section 64 of the Motor Vehicle Act 1949 (NT) empowers the police officer to stop a vehicle for road safety-related reasons. These reasons are:

    • To make inquiries about the vehicle's mass and the load on the vehicle.
    • To get the vehicle to a weighbridge or a weighing station.
    • To measure or examine the vehicle's parts such as the wheels, tyres and load.
    • To see the driver's records, licence and sometimes a letter of exemption.

    Any person who refuses to pull over so the police can carry out their duties commits an offence.

    The Rights of a Person Stopped By the Police

    Even though the law empowers the police to stop vehicles, their authority still has some limitations. These limitations stand as the rights of the person pulled over by the police. These rights are:

    • An individual pulled over is not under an obligation to provide answers to every question asked.
    • A person pulled over has the right to take a record of the event. However, this must not interfere with the duty of the police.
    • An individual can question the police concerning why they were pulled over.

    The Possible Defences Against the Allegation of Failing to Stop for The Police

    There are some defences that an accused can raise when facing an allegation of failing to stop for the police. Some of these defences are:

    #1. The Accused Was not Aware of the Direction to Stop

    A defendant can claim that they committed the offence of not pulling over because they were unaware of an order. However, this defence's success depends on convincing the court that the accused did not see any of the police signals.

    These signals include the use of the siren, the vehicle's headlight and the intermittent blue and red flashes.

    #2. Necessity

    The defence of necessity is applicable if the accused broke the law because they were trying to prevent a terrible event. For example, a driver who has a passenger that needs immediate medical attention might refuse to stop the vehicle.

    #3. Duress

    An accused could claim duress if they committed the crime because of a threat they received from a third party.

    Bottom Line

    Failing to stop when the police give the order is a severe offence that can attract an imprisonment sentence. As such, seeking legal advice or legal representation is one of the best steps to take. This action can ensure that a person gets the best possible result.

    Will a failing to stop for police offence in the NT show up on a criminal history check?

    If an individual is found guilty of failing to stop for police offence in the NT, the offence will show up as a disclosable court outcome (DCO) on the results of their criminal background check.

    Individuals can obtain a national police clearance online via the Australian National Character Check - ANCC® website.

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