At Grigor Lawyers, operating in Victoria and interstate, our solicitors have extensive knowledge with respect to driving offences. Less serious driving offences, such as speeding, careless driving, driving whilst suspended, driving whilst disqualified and drink driving, are heard in the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria. More serious driving offences, such as culpable driving, are heard in the County or Supreme Court of Victoria.
It is somewhat common for people who have never had any criminal matters before the Courts, to find themselves charged and summonsed to Court in relation to a driving offence. Accordingly, our solicitors endeavour to have these matters dealt with as soon as practicable.
In the Magistrates’ Court, there are a variety of different penalty options, ranging from the charges being proven and dismissed and fines without conviction, up to and including a term of imprisonment. By engaging one of our experienced solicitors at the earliest opportunity to assist with your matter, we can advise you of the best course of action with respect to contesting the allegations, or pleading guilty at an early opportunity to lighten any punishment that may be imposed by the Courts.
Driving whilst suspended
Our office has extensive experience with respect to charges of driving whilst suspended. These arise from individuals being caught driving a motor vehicle whilst their licence has been suspended. In order to be found guilty of driving whilst suspended the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that you were in fact driving on the road and that your license was suspended at the time.
A possible defence to this charge is by way of ‘honest and reasonable mistake’. This defence acknowledges that you were driving at the time of the offence, however you were not aware of the suspension at the time and were under the impression that you were allowed to drive. It should be noted that the threshold for this defence is high. Penalties for this offence can range from a fine, further suspension/cancellation of licence, to a Community Corrections Order (CCO) or, in the most extreme of circumstances, a term of imprisonment.
Drink Driving and Drug Drive
Our office has boundless knowledge with respect to drink and drug driving offences in Victoria. It is against the law for a person to operate a motor vehicle whilst under the influence of drugs or with a blood alcohol concentration (“BAC”) above the prescribed amount of 0.05 (or zero for probationary drivers).
In order to be convicted of a drink driving offence, the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that you were operating the vehicle and at that time, your BAC was above the legally prescribed amount. Possible defences to charges of drink driving are that:
- You were not the driver/operator of the vehicle at the time of the offence; or
- The test for alcohol was conducted more than three hours after you were pulled over by the police.
In relation to possible penalties, in most cases the Magistrate will cancel your license and disqualify you from driving for a specified period of time, depending on the severity of the BAC reading. Further penalties range from a fine, impoundment of the vehicle, an undertaking to be on good behaviour and, in cases where the offender has past instances of drink driving, a term of imprisonment.
With respect to drug driving charges, there are a number of different drug driving related offences with similar variations to them such as: driving with more drugs than prescribed by a medical professional, driving whilst impaired, driving under the influence. In order to be found guilty of a drug related driving offence the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that you were operating the motor vehicle, you consumed illicit substances, and as a result of these substances your driving ability was affected.
Possible defences to charges of drug driving are:
- That the police officers did not take your saliva sample according to correct procedure and as a result, the saliva should not be admissible to Court;
- The saliva sample was not taken by police until more than three hours after you were pulled over by the police; or
- That you took your medication in accordance with how they were prescribed to you by your medical practitioner.
Penalties for drug driving are similar to those for driving under the influence of alcohol and include a fine, impoundment of the vehicle, an undertaking to be on good behaviour, community corrections orders and, in cases where the offender has past instances of drug driving, a term of imprisonment.
Driving Over The Speed Limit
A driver will be found guilty of the offence of speeding if the police believe the vehicle exceeded the assigned speed limit of the road in question. In order to be successful in their case against you, the prosecution must prove that you were driving the car and doing so over the speed limit.
Should you be found guilty of speeding, the Magistrate has the ability to place you on an undertaking to be of good behaviour for a specified period of time, impose a fine, impound your vehicle, suspend your license for a specific period of time or ultimately, a term of imprisonment.
You would have an adequate defence against the charge if you were speeding due to an emergency, such as driving a pregnant woman to a hospital, or having a sick passenger in the vehicle. Further to the above, alternative possible defences to charges of speeding include:
- That you were not the driver of the vehicle at the time of the offence:In this case you will need to provide details of the person who was driving the vehicle at the time;
- That the speed detected is incorrect: In this case you will need to demonstrate the faults in the equipment that led to the incorrect speed detection. This must include extensive evidence as to these faults.
You can be charged with careless driving if the police believe that you have not taken acceptable precautions or driven sensibly on the roads. The police often charge individuals with careless driving when a person has caused an accident. In order to prove this charge, the prosecution must demonstrate that you were not driving cautiously enough, and posed a relevant threat to other drivers. The majority of accidents are deemed to be careless driving unless another vehicle collides with the rear of your vehicle.
Possible defences are to claim you are not be the driver of the vehicle at the time of the offence, or that you were driving with the reasonable amount of care expected of a reasonable driver. Possible penalties for charges of careless driving include an undertaking to be of good behaviour for a certain amount of time, fines, or cancellation or suspension of driver’s licence for a certain period of time. In addition to penalties imposed by the Magistrate, VicRoads may add three demerit points to your license from the date the offence happened.
The penalties for driving related offences are becoming more severe in Victoria. If you have been charged with any driving related offences, and wish speak to or engage a solicitor from our office, please contact Grigor Lawyers on (03) 9642 3517.