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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 Western Australia (WA)

    Failing to Stop for Police Offences and Penalties in Western Australia (WA)

    There are several reasons why a person might decide not to stop their vehicle after receiving an order from the police. For example, this refusal could result from the individual not having a licence or driving under the influence of an intoxicating substance.

    Refusing to comply with an order to stop a vehicle or fleeing from the police can cause the police to engage in a pursuit. Consequently, this can make the road less safe for others.

    As such, Western Australia has put laws in place to curb the act of refusing to stop a vehicle after receiving an order from the police. The laws and penalties regarding failing to stop a vehicle after receiving an order are present in the Road Traffic Act 1974 (WA).

    This write-up will discuss the law regarding failing to stop when the police give the order and the penalties that follow. Also, this article will be taking a look at the defences a person can raise to counter a charge of failing to stop the police.

    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 WA.

    What the Law Says Regarding Failing to Stop For Police in WA

    According to Section 67A of the Road Traffic Act 1974 (WA), it is an offence for a person to go against the requirement of a police officer. The penalty for this offence depends on whether it is a first time or a subsequent offence.

    On the one hand, a first-time offender under this section may receive a fine that does not go below six penalty units or exceeds 16 penalty units. Also, the court will have to disqualify them from obtaining or possessing a licence for a minimum of 3 months.

    On the other hand, a repeat offender may get a fine not less than 12 penalty units or exceeding 28 penalty units. Also, the court must disqualify the offender for a minimum of 6 months.

    However, before a WA court can convict a person, the prosecution must show that:

    • The defendant operated a motor vehicle.
    • A police officer ordered the accused person to stop operating a vehicle.
    • The accused was aware of this order and did not comply.
    • The defendant has no legally justifiable excuse for their actions.

    Furthermore, it is essential to note that a person who commits the crime of failing to stop for a police officer is also likely to face a charge of dangerous driving.

    Committing the crime of dangerous driving for the first time attracts a fine of 60 penalty units. If it is a subsequent offence, the punishment will be a fine of 120 penalty units or nine months imprisonment. Also, the court will issue a disqualification for a minimum of 12 months.

    The Rights of a Defendant in a Proceeding

    During a proceeding, there are some rights that the defendant has. Some of these rights are:

    • The court must presume a person innocent until the prosecution has proven otherwise based on the law.
    • The court must inform the defendant of the accusation they face in the language they understand.
    • The defendant must have gotten adequate time to prepare for the trial. This can involve communicating with a lawyer.
    • There must be no unreasonable delay in the prosecution of the accused.
    • The accused can have the assistance of legal aid without any cost if they do not have a lawyer.
    • The defendant can bring witnesses to corroborate their claims.
    • An accused who has communication difficulties can request someone to help them communicate with the court.

    The Reasons Why a Police Officer Can Stop a Vehicle

    There are different reasons why a police officer can order a driver to stop the vehicle. Specifically, these reasons are:

    #1. Investigation

    Most times, police officers can stop a vehicle to carry out an investigation. Typically, this involves the officer asking the driver to provide a means of identification.

    Furthermore, if a police officer believes that a driver is under the influence of an intoxicating substance, they can order the driver to stop the vehicle. Subsequently, the police officer may ask the driver for a breath or blood test. This test is to determine if the individual is driving under the influence or not.

    Additionally, an officer may order a person to bring their vehicle to a halt if they have any reason to suspect that the driver has an illegal item. In such a case, the police officer could conduct a search.

    #2. Stopping the Furtherance of a Crime

    A police officer can order a person to stop operating a vehicle in the process of preventing the furtherance of criminal activity.

    For instance, a police officer can tell a driver to bring their vehicle to a halt if they are driving at an excessive speed. Also, an officer can order a person to stop their vehicle if the individual is driving dangerously or recklessly.

    The Possible Defences Against a Charge of Failing to Stop For the Police

    There are some defences that a person can raise if they face an allegation of refusing to stop the vehicle after receiving an order. These defences are:

    • An Emergency
    • A defendant could have disobeyed an order because of an emergency. An example of an emergency is if the accused was trying to get medical attention for themselves or someone else.

    • The Accused Was Not Aware
    • An accused can claim they committed the crime of not stopping the vehicle because they were not aware of an order they received. In such a situation, the defendant did not intentionally commit the crime.

    • Duress
    • The defence of duress applies if the accused committed the offence not of their volition but as a result of a threat they received.

    The Court that Conducts Trials for Failing to Stop For Police Offences in WA

    There are different courts in Western Australia that conduct various trials. Primarily, these courts are the Magistrates, District and the Supreme courts. Most criminal matters, including the case of failing to obey a police order, start in the Magistrates Court. However, if the verdict of the Magistrates Court doesn't satisfy a defendant, they can appeal to the District Court.

    Bottom Line

    A conviction for failing to stop for the police can leave a person with a criminal record. A criminal record is usually challenging to get rid of and can negatively impact a person's life. Consequently, this can result in a person being unable to travel to some countries or seek employment in some places.

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

    If an individual is found guilty of a failing to stop for police offence in WA, 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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