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Traffic offences in Queensland include everything from failing to give way to dangerous operation of a vehicle.
The number of possible charges, and the range in severity, make traffic law a complex and sometimes confusing area to navigate without the assistance of an experienced legal representative.
A traffic offence can have a long lasting impact on you and your family. The penalties range from fines to imprisonment, and you may be subject to civil proceedings to recover the costs of damage caused during the incident. There may also be an impact on your licence. This can be particularly stressful for you and your family if you need your licence to earn a living.
It is important that you seek legal advice as soon as possible after the incident. This will ensure that you understand your rights and obligations, and your options in progressing the matter. We will talk you through the process, and give you all of the information you need to make an informed decision about your matter.
We can assist you with:
Drink Driving Charges
Drink driving is a serious offence in Queensland and being charged can have a long lasting impact on you and your family. It is important that you receive legal advice as soon as possible, to mitigate the impact of the charge on your future.
Do I have to go to Court?
If you have been charged with drink driving, you will likely be issued a Notice to Appear by the Queensland Police Service. You must attend Court on the date provided on the Notice to Appear. Failure to appear at Court is an offence, and a warrant may be issued for your arrest.
What are the ranges for drink driving offences?
The penalty you will receive for drink driving is dependent on several factors, including your Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC). Your BAC is the amount of alcohol in your system, measured by calculating grams of alcohol per 100ml of blood. Your BAC will be obtained by the arresting officer through a breath test or blood test.
There are several drink driving offences, and your BAC will determine which offence you are charged with. The categories of offences are:-
- Low Range – BAC reading of 0.05 to 0.09
- Mid Range – BAC reading of 0.10 to 0.14
- High Range – BAC reading 0.15 or above
There is also an offence of driving while over the no alcohol limit and under the general alcohol limit (BAC 0.01 to 0.04). This offence will only occur if your licence is subject to a condition that prohibits you from having any alcohol in your system when driving. A probationary licence is an example of a licence that requires the holder to have no alcohol in their system when driving.
What is the penalty I will receive?
The penalties for drink driving include the imposition of a fine or term of imprisonment and license disqualification. The penalty you receive will depend on your Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) and whether you have been convicted of a similar offence in the five years prior to offending.
Will my licence be disqualified?
There are mandatory disqualification periods for drink driving offences in Queensland. This means that you will lose your licence automatically when you are convicted of a drink driving offence, as the Court does not have discretion to allow you to keep your licence in these circumstances.
However, the period of disqualification is at the discretion of the Court. It is therefore important you obtain experienced legal representation to ensure the lowest period of disqualification is imposed.
Can I get a work licence?
You may be eligible to obtain a work licence (called a Restricted Licence) to allow you to keep driving for work during your period of disqualification. Please contact us to see if you are eligible for a Restricted Licence.
What should I do if I have been charged with drink driving?
Drug Driving Charges
It is an offence in Queensland to drive after using an illicit substance. There are two possible charges:-
- driving with a relevant drug in your system; or
- driving under the influence of a dangerous drug.
You may be charged with driving with a relevant drug in your system if a drug is present in your blood or saliva when driving. Your manner of driving does not need to be adversely affected and merely having the drug present in your system will ordinarily result in you being charged.
Driving under the influence of a dangerous drug is a more serious charge. You will be charged with this offence if the presence of the drug in your system was adversely impacting your capacity to drive. The penalties are more severe for this charge.
Which drugs can be tested for and what happens if I test positive?
A roadside drug test can indicate the presence of a drug in your system. You will be administered a saliva test. A roadside drug test will detect traces of:-
- THC (a component of cannabis);
- Methylamphetamine; and
If you are unable to provide a saliva specimen for analysis the police are permitted to take you to a place where a blood sample can be obtained.
If you return a positive result on your first saliva test, you will be required to attend a police station to complete a second test. You will be charged with a drug driving offence if your second test returns a positive result.
Your licence will be suspended for 24 hours. You will also likely be issued a Notice to Appear. You must attend Court on the date set out on the Notice to Appear. Failure to appear at Court is an offence, and a warrant may issue for your arrest if you do not attend Court on that date.
What is the penalty I will receive?
The maximum penalty for driving with a relevant drug present is a fine of 14 penalty units or 3 months imprisonment. Your driver’s licence will also be disqualified for between 1 and 9 months.
The more serious offence of driving under the influence of drugs carries a higher penalty. The maximum penalty for driving under the influence of drugs is a fine of 28 penalty units or 9 months imprisonment. Your driver’s licence will also be disqualified for a minimum of 6 months.
The maximum penalty will increase if you have been charged with a similar offence in the past 5 years. You will also be disqualified for a longer period of time. It is important to seek legal advice to determine the maximum penalty that applies in your particular circumstances.
Can I get a work licence?
You may be eligible to obtain a work licence. A work licence allows you to drive for purposes directly connected with your employment during your period of disqualification. You may be eligible if you have been charged with driving with a relevant drug in your system. You are not eligible to apply for a work licence if you have been charged with driving under the influence of drugs.
Why seek legal advice?
Our solicitors are available to provide advice about your matter, and the penalties likely to apply to you. We may be able to assist in reducing the penalty and disqualification you will receive for your drug driving offence.
Careless Driving Charges
It is an offence to drive in a careless manner. This offence is also known as driving without due care and attention. The police may charge you with this offence if they believe that you were not paying enough attention to the road while you were driving.
What is the maximum penalty?
The maximum penalty for careless driving is a fine of up to 40 penalty units or 6 months imprisonment. The Court is also able to disqualify you from holding or obtaining a driver’s licence. The disqualification is not mandatory, and the presiding Magistrate will determine whether a disqualification is appropriate in your circumstances.
There are several circumstances that “aggravate” the charge. If you are charged with an aggravated offence, you will face a more significant penalty. The circumstances of aggravation include:-
- causing serious injury or death of another person; and
- being unlicenced at the time of the offending.
In these circumstances you will face a more serious penalty, and your licence will be disqualified for at least six months. It is important to seek legal advice if you have been charged with an aggravated offence.
Why seek legal advice?
Our solicitors are available to provide advice and represent you in relation to your charge of careless driving. We may be able to assist in reducing the penalty and disqualification you will receive for your careless driving offence.
Dangerous Operation of a Motor Vehicle
You may be charged with dangerous operation of a motor vehicle if you have driven, or interfered with, a vehicle in a manner that is considered dangerous. This offence is also referred to as “dangerous driving”.
Unlike other traffic and driving offences, dangerous operation is a criminal offence (rather than a traffic matter). It is important you seek legal advice, as being charged with dangerous operation can have a significant impact on your future and your ability to hold a driver’s licence.
What is considered "dangerous"?
The term “dangerous” is not specifically defined, and any behaviour that puts yourself or other road users at risk will be considered dangerous. This can include driving at excessive speeds, failing to stop at a red light, deliberately driving toward pedestrians and driving on the wrong side of the road.
The manner of driving must be considered in the context of what should be expected of a competent and careful driver. In making this assessment, the Court is able to consider:-
- The condition of the road;
- The condition of your vehicle;
- The number of other people using the road at the time; and
- The presence of alcohol or dangerous drugs in your system at the time of the alleged offending.
The account of witnesses is ordinarily an important factor in determining whether your driving was dangerous. You are likely to receive witness statements from other drivers or road users should you be charged with this offence.
It is important to seek legal advice if you have been charged with this offence.
What is the penalty for dangerous operation?
The maximum penalty for dangerous operation is a fine of up to 200 penalty units or 3 years imprisonment.
There are certain circumstances that “aggravate” the charge and increase the maximum penalty able to be imposed. The circumstances of aggravation for this offence include:-
- being adversely affected by an intoxicating substance at the time of the alleged offence;
- excessively speeding or taking part in a “race” at the time of the offence; and
- dangerous driving results in the death or bodily harm to another person.
It is also a circumstance of aggravation if you have previously been convicted of a similar offence. It is important to understand the penalty that applies in your specific circumstances. You should seek legal advice about your specific circumstances, and the penalty likely to be imposed on you.
What should I do if I have been charged with dangerous driving?
Hooning & Vehicle Impoundment
In Queensland, “hooning” is antisocial behaviour that occurs in a car, van or motorbike. There are many behaviours that are considered hooning, including street racing, burnouts and speeding.
There are two categories of hooning offences in Queensland, Type 1 offences and Type 2 offences.
Type 1 offences include:-
- dangerous driving;
- careless driving;
- organising, promoting or taking part in racing and speed trials;
- wilfully starting a motor vehicle or driving in a way that makes unnecessary noise or smoke; and
- evading police.
Type 2 offences include:-
- driving a vehicle that is uninsured and unregistered;
- driving without a licence or when your licence has been suspended;
- high range drink driving—with a blood alcohol level above 0.15%;
- exceeding the speed limit by more than 40km/h;
- driving a modified vehicle that does not comply with vehicle safety standards; and
- driving while under a 24 hour suspension order.
The penalty you will face is dependent on your charge. For example, if you are charged with dangerous operation, your maximum penalty will be a fine of up 200 penalty units or 3 years imprisonment. You will also lose your licence for a minimum of 6 months.
In addition to any penalty you face for the offence, the police may also:-
- impound your vehicle by placing it in a holding yard;
- immobilise your vehicle by removing or confiscating your number plates; or
- confiscate your vehicle.
It does not matter whether you are the owner of the vehicle. Police are able to impound, immobilise or confiscate the vehicle you were driving at the time of the alleged offending whether you are the owner or not.
The vehicle you were driving may be impounded or immobilised for a period of 90 days for your first Type 1 offence. The vehicle can be impounded until your charge has been finalised for your second Type 1 offence. Your vehicle may be confiscated at the conclusion of proceedings.
The vehicle you were driving will not be impounded for your first Type 2 offence. However, the vehicle will be impounded or immobilised should you commit further offences. The period of impoundment or immobilisation is:-
- For the second Type 2 offence, 7 days;
- For the third Type 2 offence, 90 days;
- For the fourth Type 2 offence, the vehicle will be impounded or immobilised until your charge has been finalised, and may be confiscated at the conclusion of your proceedings.
What happens if my vehicle is confiscated?
The government can sell your vehicle if your vehicle has been confiscated. The vehicle will either be sold at auction, or crushed and sold as scrap metal.
Why seek legal advice?
It is important to seek legal advice to properly understand the penalties likely to be applied in your circumstances, and to determine whether your vehicle will be confiscated at the conclusion of your matter. Our solicitors are able to provide legal advice and representation for your hooning matter. We may be able to assist in reducing the penalty imposed on you at the conclusion of the proceedings.
It is an offence to drive at a speed above the posted speed limit. Speeding offences are ordinarily dealt with via an Infringement Notice (also known as “fines”). You will not usually be required to go to Court for your spending matter, unless you disagree with the Infringement Notice and want to contest the charge.
The penalty for speeding is a fine and loss of demerit points. The penalty depends on how far over the speed limit you were travelling.
The penalties for speeding are:-
- Less than 13km/hr over the speed limit – $177.00 fine and 1 demerit point;
- More than 13km/hr but not more than 20km/hr over the speed limit – $266.00 fine and 3 demerit points;
- More than 20km/hr but not more than 30km/hr over the speed limit – $444.00 fine and 4 demerit points;
- More than 30km/hr but not more than 40km/hr over the speed limit – $622.00 fine and 6 demerit points;
- More than 40km/hr over the speed limit – $1,245.00 fine and 8 demerit points.
Travelling more than 40km/hr over the speed limit is considered a “high range speed offence”. You will be suspended from driving for a period of six months if you are convicted of a high range speed offence.
Your licence may also be impacted by the accumulation of demerit points if you are convicted of speed offences.
You may be eligible for a Special Hardship Licence if you have been charged with a high speed offence, or a demerit point suspension. This will allow you to continue to drive for purposes directly connected to your employment during your suspension.
If you wish to contest your speeding fine or suspension, you should seek legal advice. Our solicitors are able to provide advice in relation to speeding fines and your potential eligibility for a Special Hardship Order if you receive a suspension notice. Please contact our office on (07) 4963 2000 or via our online contact form.
Using a mobile telephone while driving
You are only able to use your mobile phone while driving in certain circumstances. The manner you are able to use your mobile telephone while driving depends on the type of licence that you hold.
For open and P2 (Green Ps) licence holders, you are only able to use your mobile telephone through a hands free, or Bluetooth, device while driving. You are not able to hold or touch your mobile telephone while you are driving or in control of a vehicle. This includes when you are stopped at a traffic light or waiting in traffic.
If you hold a P1 licence (Red Ps), you are not able to use your mobile telephone at all. You are not able to use a hands free or Bluetooth device.
What is the penalty for using my mobile phone?
You may receive an Infringement Notice (also called a “fine”) if you are caught using your mobile phone while driving. You will be fined $1,000.00 and be allocated 4 demerit points.
Could I be charged with any other offences?
You may be charged with other offences if you were driving in a manner that was:
- careless; or
It is important to seek legal advice if you have been charged with the offence of careless driving or dangerous operation of a motor vehicle. These charges can have a significant impact on your licence, and it is important you understand the penalties that apply in your specific circumstances.
I have too many demerit points, but need my licence for work. What can I do?
You may be eligible for a Special Hardship Licence if you have accumulated too many demerit points within a specified period. This will allow you to drive for purposes directly connected to your employment during your suspension.
Do I need a lawyer?
You will not have to go to Court if you receive an Infringement Notice, unless you dispute the fine. You should seek legal advice if you are considering disputing the Infringement Notice. If you would like to speak to one of our experienced traffic lawyers, please contact our office on (07) 4963 2000 or via our online contact form.
Failing to stop and evasion offences
In Queensland, you must comply with a direction from the police to stop your motor vehicle. This includes a direction to enter a static Random Breath Test (RBT) site and a direction to pull over by police. You must stop the vehicle as soon as practical after being directed to do so.
If you do not stop when directed, you may be charged with failing to stop or an evasion offence (also called “evading police”).
What is the penalty for not complying with a direction to stop?
There are some circumstances where police may charge you for failing to comply with a direction to stop your vehicle. This is a less serious offence than an evasion offence. The maximum penalty in these circumstances is a fine of 60 penalty units. There is no automatic impact on your licence.
What is the penalty for evading police?
Evading police is a serious offence. You will face a significant fine and a lengthy period of disqualification if you are convicted of this offence. Further, if you are not able to demonstrate capacity to pay the fine, you may be required to spend time in custody.
The penalty for evading police is:-
- Minimum penalty – a fine of 50 penalty units or 50 days imprisonment; and
- Maximum penalty – a fine of 200 penalty units or 3 years imprisonment.
The presence of a minimum penalty means the Court must impose a fine of at least 50 penalty units or require you to serve 50 days within a correctional facility.
Will I lose my licence?
You will be disqualified from holding or obtaining a Queensland driver’s licence for a period of two years.
Will my car be impounded?
Evading police is considered a Type 1 hooning offence. Your vehicle may be impounded, immobilised or confiscated as a result of the offence.
Should I get a lawyer?
Evasion offences are very serious. There is a risk you will be required to spend time in custody as a result of this offence. You should seek legal advice as soon as possible after you are charged. This will ensure you properly understand the penalties that apply in your circumstances, and the likely outcome of your matter.
Why it’s important to get advice
There is always a range in the severity of penalty that could be imposed, even in matters where a period of mandatory imprisonment applies. The presiding Judge or Magistrate has discretion and will impose a penalty that is appropriate in your circumstances.
We can assist by ensuring the presiding Judge or Magistrate has all of the relevant information, and is aware of your particular circumstances and mitigating factors. This can result in you having a lesser penalty imposed.