Heavy Vehicle Offences.
Heavy vehicle offences which are essentially penalties for trucking violations can be extremely serious with regard to the fine imposed. Currently this include fines of over $10 000 for critical breaches, fines designed to send out a message to the community that these offences are serious due to the potential danger to other road users from trucking accidents. There are also demerit point losses under the Heavy Vehicle National Law for eight offences which are again an effort by the authority to show how serious trucking offences are taken.
These heavy vehicle offences can be split into three types of penalties.
- Infringeable offences: This is a traffic infringement notice that gives you the option of paying a set penalty or taking the matter to court. These infringeable offences are generally set at about 10 per cent of the maximum court imposable penalty. If an offences are demerit points these will automatically be incurred once the penalty notice is paid. An alternative can be to have the matter brought to court and ask that the matter be dismissed on a plea of guilty in which case no demerit points will be lost. This option carries some risk that you will receive a heavier penalty than what is stipulated on the ticket.
- Court imposed penalties: If the offence is serious enough you will have to attend court. The maximum penalties are generally around $10 000 for the objective seriousness of matters to be dealt with at court. Demerit points will be imposed on a plea or finding of guilt unless the matter is dismissed.
- Demerit points: It is important to remember that the Magistrate has no power to stop you receiving demerit point losses on your licence after a finding of guilt unless the matter is dismissed. This can be achieved only if your lawyer can show mitigating circumstances why this would be a just and fair result.
Speeding Under the Heavy Vehicle National Laws.
The courts have long been aware of the impact of speeding by truck drivers, attempting to meet tight schedules for deliveries and the consequences of such behaviour. As a result there are serious penalties which can be imposed and it is always on the drive to keep within the speed limit. There are ways in which such offences can be defended in court as the prosecution bears the onus of proof. You can potentially face a fine of $10,490.00 if you lose at court so you would have to make sure that your instructions to your lawyer were correct.
Fatigue-regulated heavy vehicles (vehicles with GVM of more than 12 tonnes)
Solo drivers of a fatigue regulated heavy vehicle who work more than the legal maximum work time or rest less than the regulated minimum rest time, will receive up to four demerit points on their licence and an infringement of up to $630.00. Potentially you could be liable for $15,750 if you are unsuccessful at court and employers can also be liable for similar court imposed penalties ranging from $4,200 through to $15,750. Log book offences are the most common heavy vehicle offences within the Local Court. Defences are available if you make an honest and reasonable mistake of fact and I have had matters dismissed when the driver was honest but did not take reasonable steps. There are applications for mobile phones available now which can assist drivers make sure the hours they record are correct.
Mass, Dimensions and Loading.
Fines of up to $10,490 are handed out to drivers who fail to monitor and drive on the roads vehicles which breach the maximum mass, load and dimensions. Drivers have to be aware that these requirements can be different within different states. A heavy vehicle that meets the requirement in Victoria can be operating illegally if driven in New South Wales.
It is always important to consult with an experienced traffic lawyer with a strong understanding of the heavy vehicle national laws. The fines are designed to hurt both drivers and companies alike but can be reduced or dismissed if taken to court for consideration.
Solicitor – Blomfield Legal