If you are caught running a red light in NSW, you are liable for a fine and to have demerit points taken off your licence, which can result in disqualification. Red light offences are usually detected by purpose built red light cameras, which are mounted on traffic lights at intersections around NSW. If you have run a red light and have been caught on camera, you will generally receive a penalty notice in the mail. If you have received a penalty notice for contravening the red light law in NSW, you may have more options than you think for resolving the situation in your favour.
As with any other penalty notice you receive from the State Debt Recovery Office (SDRO), you have the option of accepting the penalty and paying the fine, asking for the penalty notice to be reviewed, or electing to have the matter dealt with in court.
How do I get a review of my red light penalty notice?
You can apply for a review of your penalty notice if you think it has been issued by mistake, or if there were mitigating circumstances. You will need to fill out a request form online, or download a form from the SDRO website and send it in with documentary evidence. If you want to apply for a review, you need to do so by the due date on the penalty notice, and you can’t ask for a review if you have already elected to have the matter dealt with in court.
As a result of the review, the penalty notice may stand, you may be given a caution if your individual circumstances warrant it, or the penalty notice may be cancelled. If the review is not in your favour, you have 28 days to elect to have the matter heard in court.
How do I elect to have a red light offence dealt with in court?
If you wish to have a red light offence dealt with in court rather than paying the fine, you will need to fill out a request form. Once you have submitted the form, you will receive a court attendance notice in the mail stating your scheduled court date. You must attend court when you are asked to do so, as failing to turn up may mean the matter is decided in your absence and you could be liable for further penalties.
If you are thinking about electing to have a red light offence heard in court, it is important that you seek legal advice as soon as possible. Advice from an experienced criminal lawyer can make the difference between being able to successfully defend yourself against the red light penalty, and being liable for heavy fines and licence disqualification.
What will happen when I go to court?
If you go to court for a red light offence, you will need to decide whether to plead guilty or not guilty.
If you plead guilty, the matter will be finalised on the first date you appear at court. Your lawyer may be able to help you get a reduced penalty, and in some cases, potentially a section 10 dismissal or conditional release order, which is a finding of guilty with no conviction recorded.
If you choose to plead not guilty and challenge the charges against you, you will be given a later court date for your trial, at which you or your lawyer will present the evidence in favour of your case and the magistrate will decide whether to uphold the charge or not.
If you are facing potential disqualification from driving, it can be worth your while to get a lawyer and take the matter to court. Red light cameras are not always accurate, and it is possible to successfully challenge the penalty notice, and avoid a fine or a disqualification from driving.