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  • Home Resources & Technical Articles Driving & Traffic Offences Heavy Vehicle Offences Heavy Vehicle Offences and Penalties in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT)

    Heavy Vehicle Offences and Penalties in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT)

    Compared to motor vehicle accidents, accidents involving heavy vehicles are much more severe. Heavy vehicle road accidents, in particular, can lead to serious bodily injuries and, in some cases, death.

    In response to these facts, the Australian Capital Territory has established some regulations to help minimise the rate of heavy vehicle accidents. Going against any of these regulations is an offence.

    Interested individuals can find the rules and sanctions regarding the use of heavy vehicles in the Heavy Vehicle National Law (ACT).

    This article will discuss the law on the different heavy vehicle offences, including their penalties. Also, it will consider the possible defences for heavy vehicle offences.

    If an individual is convicted in an ACT court for a heavy vehicle offence, the offence will show up as a disclosable court outcome (DCO) on a police check in the ACT.

    What the Law Says Regarding the Different Heavy Vehicle Offences and its Penalties

    Several sections regulate the use of heavy vehicles in the Heavy Vehicle National Law (ACT). They include:

    #1. Primary Duty

    Section 26C of the Heavy Vehicle National Law (ACT) states the responsibilities of every individual involved in the operation of a heavy vehicle. This section places a duty on such people to ensure some level of safety regarding the vehicle's transportation activities. This obligation mainly involves:

    • Eliminating every public risk as much as practicable.
    • Making sure that a driver of a heavy vehicle does not contravene traffic laws.
    • Finally, ensuring that the driver of a heavy vehicle does not drive beyond the speed limit.

    #2. Prohibited Requests and Contracts

    Under Section 26E of the Heavy Vehicle National Law (ACT), it is an offence for any individual to influence an individual to:

    • Drive a heavy vehicle in a manner that exceeds a particular speed limit.
    • Drive a heavy vehicle while impeded by fatigue.
    • Operate a fatigue-related vehicle in contravention of their work or resting hours.
    • Operate a fatigue-related vehicle in violation of any other traffic law to avoid driving while
    • impaired by fatigue.

    Influence under this section includes direct demands and requests. The penalty for this crime is a fine not exceeding $10000.

    A person can also be guilty of an offence if they voluntarily enter a contract that encourages a driver to:

    • Go beyond the stipulated speed limit.
    • Operate a vehicle while affected by fatigue.
    • Drive a vehicle in contravention of the stipulated work and rest hours.
    • Breach any of the traffic laws relating to driving a fatigue regulated vehicle.

    #3. Getting Approval to Modify Heavy Vehicle

    Section 85 of the Heavy Vehicle National (ACT) makes it an offence for any person to modify a heavy vehicle without a permit. Committing this offence attracts a fine of at most $3000.

    It is also an offence for a person to drive an unapproved modified heavy vehicle. The penalty for it is a fine of not more than $3000.

    #4. Tampering With a Plate or Label

    Under Section 87A of the Heavy Vehicle National Law (ACT), it is illegal for a person to tamper with the plate or label attached to a heavy vehicle. The penalty for this offence is a fine of $3000.

    Nevertheless, the court can only convict a person for an offence in this section after the prosecution has proven that:

    • The defendant tampered with a plate or label attached to a vehicle without written approval from
    • the regulator.
    • The accused has no means of legally justifying their action.

    It is noteworthy that tampering in this section involves damaging, altering, removing or interfering with something.

    #5. Safety Requirements

    Based on Section 89 of the Heavy Vehicle National Law (ACT), a person commits an offence if they drive a heavy vehicle that is unsafe for the public. This offence can result in a fine of $6000. Nevertheless, the court can not convict a person without the prosecution establishing that:

    • The defendant operated a heavy vehicle that was unsafe for the public.
    • The accused was aware that the heavy vehicle was dangerous for the people.
    • The defendant has no legal justification for driving an unsafe heavy vehicle.

    #6. Properly Operating an Emission Control System

    Section 90 of the Heavy Vehicle National Law (ACT) establishes that a person commits an offence if they drive or permit another person to drive a heavy vehicle that is without a fitted emission control system. This offence can lead to a fine not exceeding $3000.

    Furthermore, it is illegal to use or permit another individual to use an emission control system that does not fit the manufacturer’s design. Committing this crime can attract a fine that is not above $3000.

    Also, a person can be guilty of an offence if they use or permit the use of an emission control system that does not apply to a heavy vehicle.

    In this section, an emission control system is a device that helps decrease a vehicle's emission.

    #7. Tampering with an Emission Control

    Section 91 of the Heavy Vehicle National Law (ACT) states that no individual must tamper with an emission control system attached to a heavy vehicle. Carrying out this act can attract a fine not exceeding $10000. However, a conviction can only take place after the prosecution has established that:

    • The accused tampered with an emission control system of a heavy vehicle.
    • The defendant has no means of justifying their action.

    Also, in this section, it is an offence for an operator to use or permit the use of a heavy vehicle with a tampered emission control system. This offence can result in a fine of $10000.

    #8. Tampering with a Speed Limiter for a Heavy Vehicle

    Section 93 of the Heavy Vehicle National Law (ACT) makes it an offence for any person to tamper with an attached speed limiter required by Australian road law. This offence can result in a fine not exceeding $10000.

    Furthermore, it is a crime for a person to attach a speed limiter that someone has tampered with knowingly. Such a person, if caught, will be liable to a fine that is not above $10000.

    Possible Defences for the Different Heavy Vehicle Offences

    There are some defences for heavy vehicle-related offences. Some of these defences are:

    • The accused did not intentionally commit the heavy vehicle offence.
    • The defendant has the permit to operate a heavy vehicle in a particular condition.
    • The defendant was on their way to repair the heavy vehicle.
    • The individual handling the heavy vehicle is an authorised officer carrying out their duty.

    Bottom Line

    Committing a heavy vehicle-related offence can put a person in a situation where they may have to pay a hefty fine. Therefore, anyone who faces a heavy vehicle-related offence charge should endeavour to seek legal advice or representation. This step can increase the chances of avoiding conviction.

    Will heavy vehicle offences in the ACT show up on a police check?

    If an individual is found guilty of a heavy vehicle offence in the ACT court, 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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