Can I Avoid a Conviction and Licence Disqualification if I am Guilty of a second or more Major Traffic Offence?

Section 10 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 (NSW) is a way to avoid a criminal conviction and, in driving cases, a licence disqualification and fine.

The section may apply if you plead guilty, or are found guilty, of a criminal offence or traffic offence.

It applies to all offences regardless of their seriousness, but it is more likely that you will get a section 10 if the offence is fairly minor.

At the end of the day, the Magistrate decides whether or not to give you a section 10 – and your lawyer should ensure that you are fully prepared on the day of your ‘sentencing’ so that you have the highest chance of getting a section 10.

A good traffic lawyer will guide you about how to prepare character references, write a letter of apology and, if appropriate, where to undertake a traffic offender program.

They will be able to present your case as strongly as possible in court, with a view to persuading the Magistrate to grant you a section 10.

However, section 203 of the Road Transport Act 2013 (NSW) prohibits Magistrates and Judges from granting section 10s in certain circumstances.

When am I prohibited from getting a section 10?

If you are charged with an ‘applicable offence’ and have already received a section 10 for an ‘applicable offence’ within the previous 5 years, you will not be able to receive a second section 10 for your current charge.

Importantly, it does not matter whether or not the prior offence was different to the offence you are currently charged with – in other words, section 203 will prevent you from obtaining a second section 10 as long as both are ‘applicable offences’.

What is an ‘applicable offence’?

Applicable offences are listed in section 203 and include:

  • drink driving ie driving with a low range, middle range or high range p.c.a.;
  • driving under the influence;
  • menacing driving;
  • failing to stop and assist after motor vehicle impact causing injury;
  • failing to stop and assist after motor vehicle impact causing death or grievous bodily harm;
  • refusal or failure to submit to test analysis or assessment (for drugs or alcohol);
  • wilful introduction or alteration of concentration or amount of alcohol or other drugs;
  • negligent driving, and
  • drive recklessly, furiously or in a manner / at speed dangerous (aka ‘reckless driving’).

You will also be barred if you are charged with aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring the commission of any of the above offences..

What you should keep in mind, however, is that if you are charged with an ‘applicable offence’ but DID NOT PREVIOUSLY receive a section 10 for your prior ‘applicable offence’(eg if you were previously disqualified and/or fined), then you WILL be eligible to receive a section 10 for your current offence.

So if you are charged with a second or more ‘major traffic offence’ within 5 years, it is a good idea to speak with an experienced traffic lawyer about your chances of getting a section 10 and avoiding a conviction, licence disqualification and fine.

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About Ugur Nedim

Ugur Nedim is an Accredited Specialist Criminal Lawyer and Principal at Sydney Criminal Lawyers, Sydney's leading firm of criminal and traffic defence lawyers.
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