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Home Resources & Technical Articles Driving & Traffic Offences Serious and Major Traffic Offences Serious and Major Traffic Offences and Penalties in New South Wales (NSW)

Serious and Major Traffic Offences and Penalties in New South Wales (NSW)

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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.


One way of determining the severity of a traffic offence is by looking at its penalties. Many serious traffic offences often have steep penalties. Typically these penalties involve the payment of fines or imprisonment sentences.

The reason behind these penalties is not far fetched. Because serious traffic offences pose a greater danger, these severe penalties help cut down the rate of these offences.

Interested persons can find major traffic offences and their penalties in the Road Transport Act 2013 (NSW).

This article will discuss what the law says regarding the various severe traffic offences and their penalties. It will also consider the possible defences for most serious traffic offences.

If you get a conviction for a serious or major traffic offence, the offence will show up as a disclosable court outcome on the results of your criminal background check.

What the Law Says Regarding Serious Traffic Offences

Under the Road Transport Act 2013 (NSW), there are several major road traffic offences, including their penalties. Some of these serious road traffic offences are:

#1. Having a Prescribed Alcohol Concentration in the Breath or Blood

Section 110 of the Road Transport Act 2013 (NSW) states that it is an offence for a novice driver who has a novice range alcohol concentration in their body system to:

  • Operate a motor vehicle.
  • Occupy a driver’s seat to drive the motor vehicle.

Committing an offence in this section can lead to a fine of 20 penalty units if it is a first-time offence. On the other hand, a subsequent violation can result in a fine of 30 penalty units.

Additionally, it is illegal for a special category driver to have a particular range of prescribed alcohol concentration in the body system and:

  • Drive a motor vehicle.
  • Occupy a driver's seat to put the vehicle in motion.

The penalties for carrying out any of these illegal acts depend on if it is a first time or a subsequent offence. A first-time offence attracts a fine of 20 penalty units, while a subsequent offence can lead to a fine of 30 penalty units.

Furthermore, a person can become guilty of an offence if they have a low range prescribed concentration of alcohol in their body system and they:

  • Drive a motor vehicle.
  • Attempt to put a motor vehicle in motion.

These acts can lead to varying fines based on whether it is a first or a subsequent offence. For example, a first-time offence attracts a fine of 20 penalty units, while a subsequent violation can result in a fine of 30 penalty units.

Furthermore, it is a crime for individuals to drive or attempt to drive while having a middle range prescribed alcohol concentration in their body system.

This offence can attract a fine of 20 penalty units if it is a first-time offence. If it is a subsequent offence, the fine will be 30 penalty units or 12 months imprisonment or both.

Lastly, in this section, a person commits an offence when they drive while having a high concentration of alcohol in their body system.

Committing this offence for the first time attracts a fine of 30 penalty units or 18 months imprisonment, or both. On the other hand, a subsequent offence leads to a fine of 50 penalty units or two years imprisonment or both.

#2. Having a Presence of Certain Drugs in the Blood, Urine or Saliva

Section 111 of the Road Transport Act 2013 (NSW) makes it an offence for a person to have traces of certain drugs in their body system while:

  • Driving a motor vehicle.
  • Occupying a driver's seat to put a motor vehicle in motion.

A first-time offender in this section will be liable to a fine of 20 penalty units. A repeat offender will receive a fine of 30 penalty units.

#3. Having Both Drugs and Alcohol Present in the Blood, Oral Fluid and Urine

Section 111A of the Road Transport Act 2013 (NSW) states that it is an offence for a person to have illicit drugs and a high range of alcohol concentration in their body system while:

  • Driving a motor vehicle on the road.
  • Occupying a driver’s seat to operate the motor vehicle.

In this section, a first-time offender will be liable to a fine of 50 penalty units or two years imprisonment. However, if the individual is a repeat offender, the fine will be 100 penalty units or two years imprisonment or both.

 

#4. Attempting to Operate a Vehicle While Under the Influence of an Intoxicating Substance

Section 112 of the Road Transport Act 2013 (NSW) makes it an offence to operate or attempt to operate a vehicle while under the influence of an intoxicating substance.

This offence can lead to a fine of 30 penalty units or 18 months imprisonment. However, if it is a subsequent offence, the fine will be a 50 penalty unit or two years imprisonment or both.

Nevertheless, before the court can convict a person, the prosecution will need to prove beyond all reasonable doubt that:

  • The accused operated or attempted to operate a motor vehicle.
  • The defendant was under the influence of an intoxicating substance.
  • The accused has a justifiable excuse for their action.

#5. Engaging in Any Form of Racing Activity

Section 115 of the Road Transport Act 2013 (NSW) states that it is an offence for an individual who is without authorisation to engage in any activity that involves:

  • Vehicles racing against each other on the road.
  • Breaking a particular vehicle speed record on the road.
  • Speed trials on the road.
  • Putting to test the driver's skill or the mechanical state of a vehicle on the road.

Being guilty of an offence in this section can attract a fine of 30 penalty units. But in a case where it is a subsequent offence, it will be a fine of 30 penalty units or nine months imprisonment or both.

#6. Driving in a Furious Negligent and Reckless Manner

Section 117 of the Road Transport Act 2013 (NSW) establishes that it is illegal for a person to operate a motor vehicle negligently. Based on this section, this act can lead to a fine of 10 penalty units.

However, if the act occasions death, the fine will be 30 penalty units or 18 months imprisonment or both. If it results in grievous bodily harm, this will attract a fine of 20 penalty units or nine months in prison or both.

Also, in this section, driving recklessly, furiously or at a speed that endangers the public is an offence.

Driving in any of these ways can lead to a fine of 20 penalty units, nine months imprisonment, or both if it is a first-time offence.

If it is a second-time offence, this will attract a fine of 30 penalty units or 12 months imprisonment or both.

Possible Defences For Serious Traffic Offences

There are several defences for the different severe traffic offences. Some of these defences are:

  • The defendant did not intentionally commit a serious traffic offence.
  • The accused has obtained authorisation from the appropriate authorities.
  • The defendant was not the person that operated the motor vehicle.
  • The defendant's vehicle had a mechanical fault while in motion.

Bottom Line

A conviction for a serious traffic offence can have a negative effect on a person’s life as it could lead to heavy fines or imprisonment. Based on this, a person will be making the right decision by employing the service of a legal practitioner. This can go a long way in increasing the chances of getting a positive result.

Will a serious or major traffic offence show up on a nationally coordinated criminal history check?

If an individual is found guilty of a serious or major traffic offence, the offence will show up as a disclosable court outcome (DCO) on the results of a police check.

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

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