Defect notices are issued under section 145 of the Road Traffic Act 1961(SA). A member of the Police or an inspector may examine a vehicle which they suspect on reasonable grounds to have deficiencies. The owner of the vehicle may be required to produce the vehicle for an examination at a specified place and time.
Vehicles of a prescribed class
If the vehicle is of a prescribed class (which under regulation 45 of the Road Traffic (Miscellaneous) Regulations 2014 (SA) includes: prime movers; commercial motor vehicles; and trailers) the Police or an inspector can examine the vehicle whether or not there is reason to suspect deficiencies.
What is a defective vehicle?
A vehicle is considered defective if it:
- does not comply with the vehicle’s standards, the Road Traffic (Light Vehicle Standards) Rules 2013 (SA);
- has not been maintained in a condition that it can be driven or towed safely, if it would endanger the person driving/towing the vehicle, anyone else in or on the vehicle, or a vehicle attached to it or other road users.
- does not have an emission control system fitted, or has an emission control system that has not been maintained.
Petrol power assisted bikes
Petrol power assisted bikes cannot be lawfully driven on South Australian roads. This means that a defect notice can be issued for such bikes. In addition, as they cannot be registered or insured, charges of driving unregistered and driving uninsured are likely to follow (see Unregistered and uninsured vehicles).
If on examination the vehicle is found to have deficiencies, but to the extent that further use on roads would not cause safety risk, then a formal written warning may be given. If the driver of the vehicle is not the registered owner, they must provide the warning to the registered owner of the vehicle [Road Traffic Act 1961 (SA) s 145(4b)].
Major and minor defect notices
If further road use would cause imminent and serious safety risks then a major defect notice is given; in any other case a minor defect notice is given. In either case the notice is to be given to the driver, the defect label is to be affixed to the vehicle, and a copy of the notice is sent to the Registrar of Motor Vehicles.
Information a defect notice must contain
The defect notice must state:
- the date the notice is issued; and
- the identity of the person who defected the vehicle; and
- clearly identify the vehicle that is defected; and
- state if it is a major or minor defect notice; and
- provide details of the deficiencies and the necessary repairs required; and
- the means by which the car is to be moved to get the repairs; and
- that the vehicle is not to stand or be driven on a road or be sold or otherwise disposed of, until:
- produced at specified place for examination;
- a clearance certificate is issued by a member of the Police, an inspector or vehicle registration authority certifying that the repairs are done; and
- the Police, inspector or vehicle authority caused the label to be defaced or removed from the vehicle; and
- any other matters.
Offence to remove or deface defective label
A person must not deface, alter, obscure or remove a defective label otherwise they can incur either an expiation fee or a fine (see penalty summary).
Penalties for contravening defect notice
For driving, allowing the car to stand on the road, selling or otherwise disposing of a defected vehicle contrary to the terms of the defect notice the offender is liable to pay a fine of up to $1250 and gain 3 demerit points. However, it can be a defence that the vehicle was sold with reason to believe that it was not intended to be used on a road after the sale or disposal.
The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.