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  • Failing to Stop for Police Offences and Penalties in Tasmania

    A police officer can order a person to stop their vehicle for many reasons. As a matter of fact, a police officer can stop a vehicle on the basis of suspicion.

    Upon receiving the order to stop, a driver must pull their vehicle over. Refusing to obey this order is a violation of traffic law and can result in incarceration.

    The traffic rules and sanctions on failing to stop for the police are evident in the Police Powers (Vehicle Interception) Act 2000 (Tas) and the Vehicle and Traffic Act 1999 (Tas).

    These regulations help in cutting down the rate at which people disobey a police order. Consequently, this will allow the police to carry out the primary duty of maintaining law and order.

    This article will discuss what the law says regarding failing to stop the vehicle after the police have given the order including the penalties. It will also consider the possible defences for going against an order from the police to stop the vehicle.

    If an individual is convicted in a Tasmanian 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 Tasmania.

    What the Law Says on Failing to Stop the Vehicle After Receiving the Order From the Police

    The Police Powers (Vehicle Interception) Act 2000 (Tas) and the Vehicle and Traffic Act 1999 (Tas) explain that a person can be guilty of an offence if they:

    #1. Fail to Follow the Police Instruction to Stop the Vehicle

    Under Section 46 of the Vehicle and Traffic Act 1999 (Tas), the police have the authority to give a driver the signal to stop their vehicle. This may be:

    • To ask the driver to present the necessary documents for inspection.
    • To inspect every part of the vehicle including the load on the vehicle.
    • To get a person to drive their vehicle to the nearest weighing device.
    • To carry out other forms of investigation.

    After receiving the signal from the police, a driver must comply with the order and bring their vehicle to a halt. Also, the driver must ensure that their vehicle remains stationary until the police permit them to operate their vehicle.

    Failing to obey this order can attract different fines depending on if it is a first time or a subsequent offence. A first-time offence attracts a fine of 25 penalty units while a subsequent offence carries a fine of 50 penalty units.

    However, before the court can convict a person for failing to stop after receiving the order from the police, the prosecution must establish that:

    • The accused drove a motor vehicle on the street.
    • The police signalled to the defendant to pull their vehicle over.
    • The defendant was aware of the signal.
    • The defendant refused to bring their vehicle to a halt upon receiving the order from the police.
    • The accused has no reasonable excuse for failing to comply with the directive of the police.

    #2. Refuse to Stop for a Search at a Roadblock

    Section 7 of the Police Powers (Vehicle Interception) Act 2000 (Tas) states that the police have the power to stop a vehicle and conduct a search at a roadblock. Refusing to stop at a roadblock is an offence that can result in a fine of 50 penalty units or a maximum of 12 months imprisonment.

    Nevertheless, the court will only convict a person for failing to stop at a roadblock after the prosecution has established that:

    • The accused was driving on the road.
    • The defendant saw and recognised the roadblock as belonging to the police.
    • The defendant failed to stop at the roadblock.
    • The accused has no legal justification for refusing to stop at the roadblock.

    #3. Evade the Police

    Section 11A of the Police Powers (Vehicle Interception) Act 2000 (Tas) states that it is an offence for a person to try and avoid apprehension or interception by a police officer on duty.

    Committing this offence can result in different penalties. The penalties depend on if it is a first, second, or subsequent offence. In this section, a first-time offence attracts a fine not exceeding 100 penalty units or a maximum of 2 years imprisonment.

    If it is a second-time offence, the penalty will be a fine of not more than 100 penalty units or a 3 years imprisonment sentence. Lastly, a subsequent or a third-time offence can lead to a fine not exceeding 100 penalty units or a 4 years imprisonment sentence.

    Additionally, in this section, the court must disqualify an offender from obtaining or possessing a licence. The period of this disqualification depends on whether it is a first time, second time or subsequent offence.

    A first-time offence attracts a disqualification for a period not less than 3 months or exceeding 3 years. In a situation where it is a second-time offence, the disqualification will not be less than 12 months or above 5 years. A subsequent offence can result in a disqualification that is not below 2 years or above 5 years.

    Also, as per section 11A(2A) of the Police Powers (Vehicle Interception) Act 2000, it is a crime for a person to avoid apprehension or interception if:

    • A person is driving a stolen vehicle.
    • An individual is driving recklessly/negligently or at a speed that places other road users at risk.
    • The individual is driving under the influence of any intoxicating substance.
    • The person is without a driving licence or permit.
    • The individual is under a licence disqualification or suspension.

    Avoiding apprehension or interception under any of the following circumstances can attract various penalties. The penalties are subject to whether it is a first, second or subsequent offence.

    A first-time offence can lead to a fine not exceeding 100 penalty units or 3 years imprisonment. If it is a second time or subsequent offence, the penalty will be a fine not exceeding 100 penalty units or a 5 years imprisonment sentence.

    Furthermore, the court must disqualify an offender in this section from obtaining or possessing a licence for a period not below 2 years or more than 5 years.

    Nonetheless, the court can only convict a person for evasion if the prosecution can show that:

    • The accused drove a motor vehicle.
    • While the accused was driving, the police tried to intercept or apprehend the accused.
    • The defendant was aware that the police had the intention of intercepting or apprehending them.
    • The accused made an effort to escape apprehension or interception.
    • The defendant has no justifiable reason for trying to avoid apprehension or interception.

    Possible Defences For Failing to Stop after Receiving the Order

    There are several defences for failing to stop for the police. Some of these defences are:

    • The Accused Did Not Know of the Police Order
    • A defendant can claim that they were not aware that the police signalled for them to stop their vehicle. Raising this defence establishes that the accused did not intentionally commit the offence.

    • Mistake of Identity
    • The mistake of identity only applies if the accused never knew the identity of the person ordering them to stop their vehicle.

    • Necessity
    • A defendant can raise this defence if they committed the offence because they were trying to prevent a terrible event.

    Bottom Line

    Knowing the next line of action to take when facing a charge of failing to stop is crucial when trying to avoid conviction. In such a case, it is in the best interest of a person to seek legal advice or legal representation. This will help increase the chances of getting a positive result.

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

    If an individual is found guilty of failing to stop for police offence in Tasmania, 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.

    Sources

    Police Powers (Vehicle Interception) Act 2000 (Tas) - https://www.legislation.tas.gov.au/view/html/inforce/current/act-2000-046

    Vehicle and Traffic Act 1999 (Tas) - https://www.legislation.tas.gov.au/view/html/inforce/current/act-1999-070

    Tasmanian Government (Transport Services - Traffic Offences Full List) - https://www.transport.tas.gov.au/licensing/demerits_and_offences/find_a_traffic_offence/lister_full

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