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  • Home Resources & Technical Articles Driving & Traffic Offences Heavy Vehicle Offences Heavy Vehicle Offences and Penalties in New South Wales (NSW)

    Heavy Vehicle Offences and Penalties in New South Wales (NSW)

    It goes without saying that heavy vehicle accidents are less common than motor vehicle accidents. However, a single heavy vehicle accident could cost the lives of more individuals or result in grievous bodily injuries.

    As such, many states in Australia, including NSW, have formulated different regulations to control the rates of heavy vehicle accidents.

    Interested persons can find the rules and sanctions regarding heavy vehicles in the Heavy Vehicle National Law (NSW). Going against any of these regulations can result in some penalties.

    This article will discuss what the law says regarding heavy vehicle offences. It will also cover the possible defences for the different heavy vehicle offences.

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

    What the Law Says Regarding the Different Heavy Vehicle Offences

    There are several regulations regarding the use of heavy vehicles in the Heavy Vehicles National Law (NSW). These regulations provide guidelines for how a person must operate a heavy vehicle. These regulations are:

    #1. Primary Duty

    Section 26C of the Heavy Vehicles National Law (NSW) provides the responsibilities of every party involved in the transportation activities of a heavy vehicle. In this section, every party must ensure that:

    • They eliminate every risk as much as practicable.
    • They abide by heavy vehicle regulations.

    #2. Modification of a Heavy Vehicle

    Based on Section 85 of the Heavy Vehicle National Law (NSW), no individual must modify a heavy vehicle without approval from the appropriate quarters.

    Modification in this section means removing or changing a specific heavy vehicle component. Modifying a heavy vehicle without approval can attract a fine of $3000.

    Also, a person can become guilty of an offence if they use or permit another individual to drive an unauthorised, modified heavy vehicle. Committing this crime can result in a fine of $3000.

    #3. Tampering with Plate or Label

    Section 87A of the Heavy Vehicle National Law (NSW) makes it illegal for a person to tamper with a plate or label affixed to a heavy vehicle.

    Tampering in this section refers to damaging, removing or interfering with something. Tampering with a part of a heavy vehicle offence can attract a fine of $3000.

    Nevertheless, an NSW court can only convict a person after the prosecution has shown that:

    • A defendant tampered with a plate or label attached to a heavy vehicle.
    • The accused person has no legal excuse for their action.

    #4. Duty to Avoid Driving While Fatigued

    Section 228 of the Heavy Vehicle National Law (NSW) states that no person must drive a heavy vehicle while impaired by fatigue.

    Driving while impaired by fatigue can lead to a fine not exceeding $6000.

    However, before the court can convict a person, the prosecution will have to establish that:

    • The defendant drove a heavy vehicle on the road.
    • The accused drove while impaired by fatigue.
    • The defendant has no justifiable excuse for driving while impaired by fatigue.

    #5. Direction to Stop Heavy Vehicle for the Police

    Section 513 of the Heavy Vehicle National Law (NSW) establishes that a driver of a heavy vehicle must bring their vehicle to a halt after receiving the order from the police. This order provides the opportunity for a police officer to carry out the duty of inspecting the heavy vehicle.

    Also, it is essential to note that an officer could give the order orally, electronically or in any other form. Going against the order to bring a heavy vehicle to a halt can attract a fine that is not above $6000.

    Nonetheless, the court cannot convict a person unless the prosecution has proven that:

    • The accused drove a heavy vehicle on the road.
    • An officer ordered the accused to bring the heavy vehicle to a halt.
    • The defendant was aware of this order.
    • However, the defendant refused to comply with the order.
    • Therefore, the accused has no legal excuse for failing to bring their vehicle to a halt after receiving the order.

    #6. Direction Not to Move or Interfere with a Heavy Vehicle

    Section 514 of the Heavy Vehicle National Law (NSW) states that an authorised officer has the right to order a driver of a vehicle not to:

    • Move the heavy vehicle.
    • Interfere with any part of the heavy vehicle or the load on the vehicle.

    This right allows the officer to carry out their duties. Therefore, going against this order can result in a fine of $6000. Nonetheless, the court cannot convict a person for an offence in this section unless the prosecution has established that:

    • The defendant drove a heavy vehicle on the road.
    • The accused received an order from an authorised officer to stop or not interfere with any part of the vehicle or the load on the vehicle.
    • The defendant refused to obey this order.
    • The accused has no legal justification for failing to comply with the order.

    #7. Direction to Move Heavy Vehicle that Poses a Danger to Others

    Section 517 of the Heavy Vehicle National Law (NSW) establishes that an officer has the authority to order a driver to move their heavy vehicle if the officer believes that:

    • The stationery heavy vehicle poses some risk to public safety, the environment, or the road infrastructure.
    • The stationery heavy vehicle is an obstruction to traffic or is likely to stand as an obstruction.

    Disobeying this order can attract a fine that is not above $6000. However, the court will only convict a person for an offence in this section if the prosecution shows that:

    • The accused’s heavy vehicle was in a stationary position.
    • The police ordered that the accused move their vehicle to another location.
    • The defendant was aware of the order but refused to comply.
    • The accused has no means of legally justifying their action.

    Possible Defences for Heavy Vehicle Offences

    When accused of a heavy vehicle-related offence, there are several defences that a defendant can raise. These defences are:

    • The Defendant Unintentionally Committed the Offence
    • A defendant can claim that they did not intentionally commit a heavy vehicle offence. For instance, a person might have failed to comply with a stop order because they were not aware of the order.

    • The Accused Has a Permit
    • The court might be unable to convict a person for some heavy vehicle-related offences if they possess a valid permit.

    • The Defendant is an Authorised Officer
    • A defendant may not face charges if they are an authorised officer carrying out their duties.

    Bottom Line

    Knowing the next line of action to take when facing a charge for a heavy vehicle-related offence can help avoid conviction. For a start, it is best to seek the advice of a legal practitioner who has a proper understanding of heavy vehicle-related laws.

    Will heavy vehicle offences in NSW show up on a police background check?

    If an individual is found guilty of a heavy vehicle offence in a NSW court, the offence will show up as a disclosable court outcome (DCO) on the results of a police background check.

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

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