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Penalties for driving offences

Expiation fees and fines

The Road Traffic Act 1961 (SA) provides specific penalties for some, but not all offences in that Act. Where no penalty is stated for an offence, the penalty is a fine of up to $2,500 [see s 164A(2)].

If an offence is expiable, the expiation fee amount is contained in Schedule 4 of the Road Traffic (Miscellaneous) Regulations 2014 (SA).

The Australian Road Rules are part of a national scheme to provide uniform road laws throughout Australia. A breach of various rules constitutes an offence, the maximum fine amounts for which are set out in section 67 of the Road Traffic (Road Rules - Ancillary and Miscellaneous Provisions) Regulations (SA) 2014.

If an offence against the Australian Road Rules is expiable, the expiation fee amount is contained in Schedule 4 of the Road Traffic (Miscellaneous) Regulations 2014 (SA).

Offences against Part 3 of the Australian Road Rules (i.e. speed limits) can attract a penalty up to $5,000 [see Road Traffic (Road Rules - Ancillary and Miscellaneous Provisions) Regulations 2014 (SA) reg. 67]. Where the offence is against a provision of Part 12 of the Australian Road Rules (i.e. stopping and parking) the maximum penalty is a fine of $1,250 [reg. 67].

It is not unusual for offences to carry both an expiation fee amount (which applies if the offence is expiated) and a maximum fine amount (which applies if the offence is not expiated).

For a comprehensive penalty summary of expiable traffic offences and penalties as at July 2018, see Expiation Offences, Codes and Fees on the SAPOL website.

Licence disqualification and cancellation

A sentencing court can impose a licence disqualification and order the registration of a motor vehicle be suspended or cancelled for any offence against the Road Traffic Act 1961 (SA) relating to motor vehicles; or any offence under any other Act or law where a motor vehicle was involved in the commission of an offence; or where the commission of an offence was facilitated by the use of a motor vehicle [see s 168(1)].

Furthermore, where a court of summary jurisdiction, on information or complaint, is satisfied a person (or any other person) has used, or is likely to use a motor vehicle in connection with the commission of any offence or to facilitate an escape from arrest or punishment, it may order that the person who used, or is likely to use the vehicle be disqualified from driving [see s 170].

Licence disqualification to commence after imprisonment

Where a court imposes a sentence of imprisonment (other than a suspended sentence) and orders a person be disqualified from driving for a specified period, the person will be taken to be disqualified for a period which commences at the time the order is made, but ending at a time calculated as if the specified period commenced upon the person’s release from serving that period of imprisonment [see Road Traffic Act 1961 (SA) s 169B(1)]. This provision applies despite the fact it may result in a period of disqualification exceeding any prescribed maximum period [see s 169B(2)].

Clamping, impounding and forfeiture of motor vehicles

The Criminal Law (Clamping, Impounding and Forfeiture of Vehicles) Act 2007 (SA) and the Criminal Law (Clamping, Impounding and Forfeiture of Vehicles) Regulations 2007 (SA) provide powers to relevant authorities and the courts in relation to clamping, impounding and forfeiture of motor vehicles. At any time before proceedings for a prescribed offence have been finalised, a relevant authority can clamp or impound either a motor vehicle allegedly used by a defendant in the commission of an offence or any motor vehicle of which a defendant is the registered owner. This may occur where a defendant is reported for a prescribed offence and has been advised of that fact, or where a defendant has been arrested and charged in relation to a prescribed offence [see Criminal Law (Clamping, Impounding and Forfeiture of Vehicles) Act 2007 (SA) ss 5(1) and 5(3)]. This does not apply to a person who has received an expiation notice for an offence, unless that notice is withdrawn or the person elects to be prosecuted for the offence [see s 5(2)].

In accordance with the regulations, a prescribed offence for the purpose of the Act is:

[see Criminal Law (Clamping, Impounding and Forfeiture of Vehicles) Regulations 2007 (SA) reg. 4]

A sentencing court, when imposing another penalty on a person in relation to a prescribed offence, must have regard to any exercises of power under the Act [see Criminal Law (Clamping, Impounding and Forfeiture of Vehicles) Act 2007 s 4]. Prosecution may apply for an order that a motor vehicle specified in their application be forfeited to the Crown upon a conviction for a prescribed offence. The court, on the application of the prosecution, must order such forfeiture where the offence is a forfeiture offence, or the convicted person has been found guilty of or expiated at least one other prescribed offence committed or allegedly committed within ten years of the date of the offence [see s 12(1)(a)].

Prosecution may apply for an order that a motor vehicle specified in their application be impounded for a period not exceeding six months upon a conviction for a prescribed offence. The Court, on the application of the prosecution, must order the motor vehicle to be impounded if the convicted person has been found guilty of or expiated at least one other prescribed offence committed or allegedly committed within ten years of the date of the offence [see s 12(1)(b)].

Where the court makes either order, it also must order the convicted person to pay fees in relation to the forfeiture or impounding of the motor vehicle [see s 12(1a)]. Upon the hearing of such application, the court must hear representations in relation to the application [see s 12(3)].

It is important to note that a court may decline to make an order for forfeiture of, or to impound a motor vehicle where it is satisfied that:

  • the order will cause severe financial or physical hardship to a person; or
  • that the offence occurred without the knowledge or consent of the owner of the motor vehicle; or
  • where the order would prejudice the rights of a credit provider; or
  • where the vehicle has since been sold.

[see s 13(1)]

The Court may consider ordering community service where it declines to make such an order [see s 13(2)].

Penalties for driving offences  :  Last Revised: Thu Sep 25th 2014