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Truck drivers

Heavy Vehicle Laws

There are many offences concerning the driving of heavy vehicles due to increasing regulation to improve safety standards.

The relevant legislation for South Australia is the Heavy Vehicle National Law (South Australia) 2013 (SA).

The Heavy Vehicle National Law regulations also apply. PDF versions of the regulations can be downloaded from the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator website, or they can be accessed individually via the NSW legislation website:

A useful website containing information for truck drivers about the law governing them and their work is the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator website.

The website contains relevant forms, information on access permits, and industry updates as well as up-to-date details on penalties and infringements including an indication, where relevant, of the range of penalties imposed by the courts.

Speed and Gear Restrictions on Prescribed Roads (the South Eastern Freeway)

The Road Traffic Act 1961 (SA) places speed and gear restrictions on truck and bus drivers who drive on prescribed roads. Specific penalties will apply to truck and bus drivers who commit offences on prescribed roads.

A prescribed road in these circumstances is a portion of the South Eastern Freeway within South Australia, or adjacent land, as defined in regulation 61A of the Road Traffic (Miscellaneous) Regulations 2014 (SA).

A truck or a bus is a vehicle that is defined as such for the purposes of the Australian Road Rules.

Exceeding the speed by 10 kilometres an hour or more

It is an offence for a person to drive a truck or a bus on a prescribed road while exceeding the relevant speed limit by 10 kilometres an hour or more [Road Traffic Act 1961 (SA) s 45C(1)].

Maximum Penalty:

For a first offence – a fine of up to $5 000

For a subsequent offence – imprisonment for two years.

See Road Traffic Act 1961 (SA) section 45C(1).

A licence disqualification will also apply and demerit points will be incurred - see further below.

A driver may receive an expiation notice for committing this offence. Where the offence is expiated, the expiable amount payable is $1036* [Road Traffic (Miscellaneous) Regulations 2014 (SA) Schedule 4, Part 2]. A person who receives an expiation notice for this offence can dispute the notice in the usual way - see Expiation Notices. Legal advice should be sought before electing to be prosecuted.

*as at 1 July 2019.

Failing to use low gear

It is also an offence for a person to drive a truck or bus on a prescribed road to which a trucks and buses use low gear sign applies while driving in a gear that is not low enough to enable the vehicle to be driven safely without the use of a primary brake [Road Traffic Act 1961 (SA) s 45C(2)].

Maximum penalty:

For a first offence – a fine of up to $5 000

For a subsequent offence – imprisonment for two years.

See Road Traffic Act 1961 (SA) s 45C(2).

A licence disqualification will also apply and demerit points will be incurred- see further below.

A driver may receive an expiation notice for committing this offence. Where this offence is expiated, the expiable amount payable is $1036* [Road Traffic (Miscellaneous) Regulations 2014 (SA) Schedule 4, Part 2]. A person who receives an expiation notice for this offence can dispute the notice in the usual way - see Expiation Notices. Legal advice should be sought before electing to be prosecuted.

*as at 1 July 2019.

Mandatory licence disqualifications for Speed and Gear offences on prescribed roads

In addition to the above penalties, a person who commits these offences will also face a mandatory licence disqualification. The disqualification period will vary depending on whether the person expiates the offence or whether they are convicted by a court of the offence.

For a person convicted by a court of the offence, the mandatory licence disqualification periods are as follows:

For a first offence – at least six months;

For a second offence - at least 12 months; and

For a subsequent offence – for at least three years.

See Road Traffic Act 1961 (SA) s 45C(3).

Where a person expiates an offence, the mandatory licence disqualification periods that apply are:

For a second offence - six months;

For a third offence - 12 months; and

For a subsequent offence - three years.

See Motor Vehicles Act 1959 (SA) s 81BC(7)(b).

Where a person receives an expiation notice for committing a second or subsequent offence against section 45C, a police officer may give the person a notice of licence disqualification [see Road Traffic Act 1961 (SA) s 45D(2)]. In certain circumstances, a person who receives a notice of licence disqualification may apply to the Magistrates Court to have the disqualification lifted [see s 45E]. Legal advice should be sought before commencing any court application.

Detection through photographic detection devices

A person may be detected committing an offence contrary to section 45C(1) through the use of a photographic detection device [see Road Traffic Act 1961 (SA) s 79B(1)]. The same penalties as prescribed in section 45C(1) apply (a fine, a mandatory licence disqualification and demerit points). The Registrar of Motor Vehicles is empowered to issue a notice of a licence disqualification when a person expiates a second or subsequent offence captured through a photographic detection device [Motor Vehicles Act 1959 (SA) s 81BC].

Demerit Points

A driver who commits an offence against the Road Traffic Act 1961 (SA) section 45C(1) or section 45C(2) will incur 6 demerit points [see Motor Vehicles Regulations 2010 (SA) Schedule 4].

Increased penalties where the owner is a body corporate

More significant financial penalties apply to offences committed where the owner of the truck or bus is a body corporate and the body corporate fails to:

  • Furnish a statutory declaration to the Commissioner of Police stating the name and address of the person who was driving the vehicle at the time; or
  • Furnish a statutory declaration to the Commissioner of Police stating:
    • That the vehicle was not being driven at the time by any officer of the body corporate; and
    • That the owner does not know and could not know through the exercise of reasonable diligence the identity of the driver; and
    • The reasons why the identity is not known to the body corporate and the inquiries made to identify the owner.

See Road Traffic Act 1961 (SA) section 79B(2).

If a body corporate fails to furnish a statutory declaration with the above information, they may liable for increased financial penalties.The fine for a speeding offence committee contrary to section 45C(1) increases to an amount not less than $10 000 and not more than $20 000 where the owner is a body corporate [s 79B(2)(aa)(i)].

Where an offence against section 45C(1) is expiated, the expiation fee that applies where the owner is a body corporate is the expiable amount ($1036 as at 1 July 2019) plus $5 000 [see Road Traffic Act 1961 (SA) s 79B(2a)(aa) and Road Traffic (Miscellaneous) Regulations 2014 (SA) Schedule 4, Part 2].

Truck drivers  :  Last Revised: Thu Jan 16th 2020
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.