Can you avoid the consequences of a traffic conviction by following the “advice” from another road user?
Many road users mistakenly believe that they can avoid the consequences of a traffic offence based on “hearsay wisdom”. If you are charged with a traffic matter, it is important to ensure that you know the truth from the myths. Relying on mistaken beliefs can have serious consequences.
let's look at ten common myths we sometimes hear and evaluate why they are False.
Myth 1: If you don’t receive notification in the mail about your licence or traffic matter, it must be okay.
Your licence and any legal matters are always your responsibility.
Not checking things is not a defence to driving unlicenced. If you are unsure about the status of your licence, you must call the Roads and Maritime Services to check that you have a valid licence before you drive.
If you think you missed a fine, it is your responsibility to call Revenue NSW to check that your licence was not suspended for non-payment of the fine.
If you received a yellow Court Attendance Notice, but do not hear any further from the police, you still have to attend the court on the date of the Notice. Not checking is not a valid reason to annul a conviction imposed on you when you missed your court date.
The same applies to you misplace the Notice or forget your court date. The responsibility is on you to contact the court to confirm your date or check the online court list.
Myth 2: Paying a bigger fine can avoid demerit points and time off the road.
Bribery is not part of our criminal justice system. You cannot buy your way out of a set penalty. There is no way to pay more to avoid the consequences of your behaviour. Our justice system is fair; the rules aren’t different for those who can pay more.
Myth 3: You can use your foreign licence if you fail the NSW driving test or your NSW licence is suspended.
Once you apply for an NSW licence, you can no longer exercise visiting driver privileges.
- If you pass the test and receive your NSW licence, but it is suspended, cancelled or disqualified at a later stage, you must wait until your NSW licence is valid and active again before you can drive again.
- If you take the P1 driving test to obtain an NSW licence and you fail, you will receive an NSW Learner Permit. This means you are not allowed to drive unaccompanied until you pass the test.
You cannot fall back on your foreign licence.
Myth 4: You have unlimited demerit points on your international driver’s licence.
If you are driving in NSW on a foreign licence, you are allowed the same number of demerits as a NSW driver. The maximum points are 13. Your licence will be suspended for the same length of time if you have 13 or more points, regardless of whether you hold a NSW or international licence.
Myth 5: If you don’t pay the ticket, your licence will never be suspended.
If you fail to pay the traffic fine before the expiry date on the Penalty Reminder Notice the ticket will be enforced. The matter will be registered to your traffic record. Any suspensions that may flow from this will be imposed. If you still don’t pay, Revenue NSW will suspend your licence until the fine is paid.
Myth 6: You can get a section 10 without going to court if you complete a “Written Notice of Pleading”.
When you receive a Court Attendance Notice, you should also be given a form (Written Notice of Pleading) that you can complete and send to court instead of attending in person. This often creates the impression that you can get a section 10 without attending. This myth is even shared with offenders by the police in some instances.
However, if you don’t attend, you are not in court to enter a section 10 bond, even if the court wanted to give you a section 10 dismissal. Your absence rules out this option. Not attending can also send a message to the magistrate that you do not think the matter is important enough to attend. It is highly unlikely that the court will give you the benefit of dismissal without a criminal conviction under such circumstances.
Myth 7: If there is an error on your ticket you will be found “not guilty”.
Whether you are found guilty or not will depend on whether the state can prove that you committed all the elements of the offence that you are charged with and whether you have a legal defence available to you. Spelling errors or errors relating to your number plate, your date of birth or even the date of the offence can all be corrected.
Myth 8: You cannot be charged with drink driving if you get “home” safely.
Although it is true that you are under no obligation to consent to a breath test if you are on your own property, you can still be charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, without a sample. The penalty on conviction is the same as a Mid-Range PCA offence. If you decide to give a breath sample, it can be used against you in court.
Myth 9: The police officer cannot charge you if he/she is standing on private property.
Where the officer stands or what he/she does in the course of giving you the ticket or your Court Attendance Notice is irrelevant to whether you are guilty of the offence or not. Your conduct determines your guilt or innocence.
Myth 10: A red light speed camera cannot give you a ticket when the light is green.
The speed camera does not turn on and off when the light changes colour. Driving above the speed limit is an offence whether the light is red or green.
Traffic matters and convictions can have serious consequences. When you are charged with a traffic matter get advice from an expert to avoid these common mistakes and beliefs promoted by some road users. Make sure that you know the truth from the myths.
Disclaimer : This article is just a summary of the subject matter being discussed and should not be regarded as a comprehensive legal advice for you to defend yourself alone. If you are charged with criminal offences, it is recommended that you seek legal assistance from criminal lawyers.