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

    Heavy Vehicle Offences and Penalties in the Northern Territory (NT)

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    Australian National Character Check (ANCC) makes every effort to provide updated and accurate information to its customers. However due to the continuously changing nature of legislations for the Commonwealth and various States and Territories, it is inevitable that some information may not be up to date. The information on the website is general information only. The contents on the website do not constitute legal or professional advice and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal or professional advice. While we endeavour to keep the information up to date and correct, we make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, suitability, accuracy or availability with respect to the information.


    Each of the Australian states and territories has its regulations regarding the use of heavy vehicles. These laws ensure the safe operations of heavy vehicles and cut down the number of road accidents.

    In the Northern Territory, the rules regulating the use of heavy vehicles are present in the Traffic Act 1987 (NT). Contravening any of its regulations is an offence and could result in severe penalties. 

    This article will discuss NT law on the different heavy vehicle offences. It will also cover the penalties and possible defences for the various heavy vehicle crimes.

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

    What the Law Says Regarding the Heavy Vehicle Offences and Penalties

    The Traffic Act 1987 (NT) creates several offences that have to do with the operation of heavy vehicles. Each of these crimes has its penalties.

    #1. Dangerous Driving

    Section 30 of the Traffic Act 1987 (NT) states that it is an offence for a person to drive a heavy vehicle on the street in a manner that endangers the public.

    This offence can result in a fine of 20 penalty units or two years imprisonment. Nevertheless, a conviction can only take place after the court has considered the following:

    • The condition and nature of the road at the time the crime allegedly took place.
    • The traffic as at the time the offence happened.
    • The expected traffic at the time the crime occurred.

    Also, the court cannot convict a person for driving dangerously without the prosecution establishing that:

    • The accused drove a heavy vehicle on the street.
    • The accused drove a heavy vehicle recklessly or at a speed that put other road users in danger.
    • The accused has no means of justifying their action.

    #2. Driving at a Dangerous Speed

    As per Section 30A of the Traffic Act 1987 (NT), driving a vehicle at a speed of 45km/h or above the prescribed speed limit is an offence.

    Any person who commits this crime faces a fine of 20 penalty units or two years imprisonment. Also, the court will disqualify or cancel the licence of the offender.

    This disqualification period depends on whether the convict is a first-time or repeat offender. If it is a first-time offender, the court will cancel or disqualify their licence for three months. On the other hand, a repeat offender's licence disqualification or cancellation will be six months.

    Nonetheless, the court can only convict an offender under this section if the prosecution can show beyond all reasonable doubt that:

    • The defendant operated a heavy vehicle on the road.
    • The defendant drove beyond the prescribed speed limit and put other road users in danger.
    • The accused is unable to justify the act of driving beyond the prescribed speed limit.

    #3. Driving Carelessly

    Section 30B of the Traffic Act 1987 (NT) makes it a crime for an individual to operate a vehicle carelessly. Anyone who drives carelessly and causes the death of another is liable to a fine of 60 penalty units or two years imprisonment.

    However, if the careless driving results in serious bodily injury, the punishment reduces to a fine of 40 penalty units or 18 months imprisonment.

    Nevertheless, before the court can convict a person for an offence in this section, the prosecution must establish that:

    • The accused operated a heavy vehicle on a Northern Territory road.
    • The defendant drove in a manner that showed that they did not exercise proper care and attention.
    • The accused has no legal excuse for their action.

    #4. Driving While Disqualified

    Under Section 31 of the Traffic Act 1987 (NT) , a person may be guilty of an offence if they operate a vehicle while their licence is disqualified.

    This offence attracts a penalty of 12 months imprisonment. Nevertheless, the court will only convict a person after the prosecution has proven that:

    • The defendant drove a heavy vehicle on a Northern Territory road.
    • The accused was under a licence disqualification.
    • The defendant has no means of legally justifying the act of driving while under a licence disqualification.

    #5. Driving Unlicensed

    As per Section 32 of the Traffic Act 1987 (NT) , driving on the streets of NT requires having a licence.

    Therefore, driving without a licence is an offence. However, an NT court cannot convict a person without finding that:

    • The defendant drove a heavy vehicle on the street.
    • The accused was without a licence.
    • The accused has no justifiable excuse for driving a heavy vehicle without obtaining a licence.

    #6. Driving an Unregistered Heavy Vehicle

    Section 33A of the Traffic Act 1987 (NT) states that it is a crime for a person to drive or employ another person to drive an unregistered heavy vehicle.

    This offence attracts a fine of 20 penalty units or 12 months imprisonment if it is a natural person. However, where it is a corporate business, the punishment will be a fine of 100 penalty units.

    However, a conviction can only take place after the prosecution has shown the court that:

    • The accused drove an unregistered heavy vehicle on the street.
    • The defendant was aware that the heavy vehicle was unregistered.
    • The defendant has no legally justifiable reason for driving an unregistered heavy vehicle.

    #7. Driving an Uninsured or Not Properly Insured Vehicle

    Section 34 of the Traffic Act 1987 (NT) states that driving or allowing another to drive an uninsured vehicle on a public road is an offence.

    If an individual commits this offence, they will be liable to a fine of 100 penalty units. However, if it is a corporate body, the maximum fine will be 500 penalty units.

    Nevertheless, the court will not convict an individual for an offence in this section unless the prosecution has established that:

    • The defendant drove an uninsured heavy vehicle on a public street or place.
    • The accused knew that they were driving an uninsured heavy vehicle.
    • The defendant has no relevant excuse for driving an uninsured heavy vehicle on the street.

    Possible Defences for Heavy Vehicle Offences

    There are several defences for charges regarding heavy vehicle crimes. Some of these defences are:

    #1. Emergency

    An accused might not be guilty if they committed an offence in response to an emergency. For instance, a person might have driven an unregistered vehicle to a different location to ensure the safety of others.

    #2. The Defendant Was Carrying Out Their Duty

    If a defendant is an officer on duty, they may not be guilty of committing a heavy vehicle offence. This is because some situations may require an officer to operate a heavy vehicle that contravenes the heavy vehicle regulations.

    #3. The Accused Did Not Commit the Offence Intentionally

    Some heavy vehicle offences require the prosecution to prove that the accused intentionally committed them. In such an instance, if the accused can show that the violation was unintentional, the court may not find them guilty.

    Bottom Line

    The Majority of heavy vehicle offences come with a huge fine. This makes a heavy vehicle offence charge a serious matter that should not be taken with levity. In fact, it is best for a person accused of committing a heavy vehicle offence to seek the assistance of a lawyer. This will ensure that they take the proper steps to avoid conviction.

    Will heavy vehicle offences show up on a police check?

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

    Individuals can obtain a background check online via the Australian National Character Check - ANCC® website.

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