If you have recently received a traffic fine infringement notice in the mail, you will have a few different options.
You can choose to accept the charge and pay the fine, or you can decide to challenge it in court.
There are a number of reasons that people choose to challenge an infringement in court, including where they believe that the notice was given incorrectly or if they feel that the penalty is too harsh.
If you want to challenge an infringement notice, it is a good idea to seek legal advice.
Court costs can be expensive, and if you lose, you may potentially end up with a fine as well as having to pay for expenses.
How do I challenge an infringement?
Once you have received an infringement notice in the mail, you have until the due date on the penalty notice to lodge your application to have the matter dealt with in court.
The NSW State Debt Recovery Office (SDRO) handles applications to have traffic infringements dealt with in court, and you can download and fill out an application form from them.
After you have sent your application to go to court, you will receive a court attendance notice in the mail, which details the specific time and date of your scheduled appearance.
You will usually be given some time to prepare your case and seek legal advice.
It is important that you turn up on the day of your court appearance, as if you don’t the matter can be decided in your absence or you may face penalties for failing to appear.
Do I need a lawyer to challenge an infringement in court?
You don’t need to have a lawyer to go to court for a traffic infringement, but if you are facing potential disqualification or a more serious charge, it is a good idea to seek expert legal representation.
There are a number of benefits to using a top lawyer, or at least seeking some form of legal advice before appearing in court, and these include:
- If you feel that the infringement notice was unjustified your lawyer can apply to have the charges withdrawn or the infringement notice annulled on your behalf. An experienced traffic lawyer will have knowledge of traffic law and can evaluate the circumstances and any evidence against you.
- Help you decide whether to plead not guilty in court (if you believe you didn’t commit the traffic offence that you received the infringement notice for) or guilty (if you believe you did commit the offence but the penalty was too harsh).
- A lawyer can also help you apply for a section 10 dismissal or conditional release order if you want to plead guilty, but want to avoid disqualification or a criminal conviction. Traffic matters can be dealt with under a section 10 dismissal or conditional release order, which means that you plead guilty but the magistrate decides not to proceed with a conviction or disqualification. If you want to apply for a non conviction order, your lawyer can help you prepare your case and make the request to the magistrate.
- If you plead guilty, a lawyer can help you get a more lenient sentence by presenting you in a positive light and bringing attention to any mitigating circumstances or weakness in the evidence against you.
- If you plead not guilty, and the matter proceeds to a defended hearing, your lawyer can advocate on your behalf and help you get the most positive outcome possible.
Challenging a traffic infringement in court is more lengthy and involved than just paying a fine, but if you are successful you can avoid additional demerit points or suspension from driving.