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Traffic Offence Lawyers in Sutherland

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Traffic Offence Lawyers in Sutherland

If you have been accused of a traffic offence, it is important to consult specialist traffic lawyers who are vastly experienced in representing clients from your local area and have a long and proven track record of obtaining exceptional results in driving-related cases.

Traffic lawyers with extensive local experience will be able to provide you with the most accurate advice in relation to your situation, your options and the best way forward, and will use that knowledge to fight for the optimal outcome in your case.

The defence team at Sydney Criminal Lawyers has serviced Sutherland and the broader Shire for well over two decades, consistently achieving outstanding results for our valued clients throughout that time.

Our experienced traffic lawyers will use our local knowledge and specialist techniques to ensure your prospects of achieving the optimal outcome are maximised, whatever your situation may be.

We have offices at suite 40 of 40-44 Belmont Street in Sutherland, which is the street directly behind Sutherland Local Court

We offer a free first conference for those who are going to court and transparent fixed fees for traffic cases for your financial peace of mind.

So, if you have a driving-related matter call us today on (02) 9261 8881 and let us fight for the optimal outcome, while you get on with what’s important in your life. For more information about lawyers in Sutherland, visit our dedicated page, Sutherland lawyers.

Lawyers for Drink Driving Offences in Sutherland

Drink driving is also known as driving with a prescribed concentration of alcohol, and is considered to be a major traffic offence in New South Wales – which means it is a criminal offence in our state.

It is where you are driving a motor vehicle with a specific amount of alcohol in your bloodstream.

The maximum penalties that apply for drink driving depend on the category of blood alcohol concentration and whether you have been convicted of another major traffic offence within the previous five years.

The categories of drink driving are:

  • Novice range drink driving – L and P Plate drivers with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 001 to 0.019,
  • Special range drink driving – L and P Plate drivers with a BAC of020 to 0.049,
  • Low range drink driving – BAC of 0.05 to 0.079,
  • Mid range drink driving – BAC of 0.08 to 0.149, and
  • High range drink driving – BAC of 0.15 or higher.

Police have the power to issue an on-the-spot fine as well as a three-month suspension from driving for the first three categories – novice, special and low range drink driving. That suspension can be appealed to the Local Court.

A court attendance notice must be issued for mid and high range drink driving, which means you will need to attend court and enter a plea of not guilty or guilty.

If you have been accused of drink driving, an experienced traffic lawyer in Sutherland can help you by:

  • Advising you in relation to the law, including the defences to drink driving, such as the ‘two-hour rule’, ‘home safely rule’, ‘honest and reasonable mistake’, duress and necessity, and the requirement that the prosecution must prove the concentration at the time of driving rather than sometime thereafter (noting a person’s BAC can increase for up to an hour after their last drink),
  • Advising you of your options – including pleading not guilty and pressing to have the charge withdrawn or downgraded, pleading guilty on amended police ‘facts’ etc,
  • Pushing for the withdrawal or downgrading of the charge by obtaining relevant materials (such as a pharmacological report and defence statements) and writing ‘representations’ to the police (a formal letter requesting withdrawal / downgrading) and conducting negotiations,
  • Ensuring all relevant materials such as character references, a letter of apology, any medical materials and/or a certificate of completion of a traffic offender program are prepared in the event you ultimately wish to plead guilty, and making persuasive submissions in court with a view to achieving the most lenient outcome, which may include a ‘non conviction order’ whereby you will not have a criminal record, disqualification or fine,
  • Fighting for the case to be dismissed in the event you wish to plead not guilty to the charge.

Our traffic lawyers will go above and beyond to provide you with an exceptional quality of representation when it comes to your drink driving case.

Lawyers for DUI (Driving Under the Influence) Offences in Sutherland

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (or ‘DUI’) is different to drink driving because it requires the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were actually affected by a substance at the time of driving.

It is a charge often brought when police have failed to adhere to formal requirements of a drink driving charge; for example, when the ‘two-hour rule’ has been contravened or you have arrived ‘home safely’ after having driven while supposedly having a prescribed substance in your system.

These may be difficult for the prosecution to prove to the required standard.

If you have been charged with a DUI offence, it is crucial to engage the services of experienced traffic lawyers who have a comprehensive knowledge of the laws that apply and are prepared to put the police to proof, as well as raise any legal defences that may be available.

Doing so through written ‘representations’ (a formal letter requesting withdrawal of the charge) will often result in the charge being dropped, or dismissed in court if it nevertheless proceeds to a defended hearing.

Lawyers for Drug Driving Offences in Sutherland

Drug driving is also known as driving with the presence of an illicit substance, and is considered to be a major traffic offence in New South Wales – which means it is a criminal offence in our state.

The drugs currently tested during a ‘roadside lick test’ are currently MDMA (or ecstasy). cannabis, cocaine and methamphetamines (such as ‘ice’ and ‘speed’).

A positive lick test will result in a 24-hour suspension from driving.

The sample will then be sent to a lab to determine whether an illicit drug was in fact present. If so, a driver will either be formally charged and sent to court, or issued with a fine and 3 month suspension from driving,

Unlike drink driving offences which generally prescribe a certain concentration of alcohol, the offence of drug driving can be established regardless of the concentration – even minute amounts of drugs in the system are enough.

However, it is important to be aware that the defence of ‘honest and reasonable mistake’ may apply, in which case your lawyer can make the known to the police with a view to having the charge withdrawn, or persuasively argue the defence in court if the matter proceeds to a defended hearing.

Lawyers for Driving Whilst Suspended, Disqualified or Unlicensed in Sutherland

Driving without a valid licence covers four broad categories of offences, which are:

  • Driving whilst disqualified,
  • Driving whilst suspended,
  • Driving when licence cancelled, and
  • Driving when never licensed.

The penalties that may apply depend on the category of offence, whether it is your first major traffic offence within the previous five years and, in the case of your licence being suspended or cancelled, whether or not this occurred due to defaulting on a fine.

The offences are what are known as ‘strict liability offences’ which means the defence of ‘honest and reasonable mistake of fact’ may apply in circumstances where you were not aware you were not licensed (eg if you did not receive a notice of suspension) and your mistake was reasonable in all of the circumstances.

If you accept the allegations, it is important to ensure you have documents before the court regarding your need for a licence and for a good lawyer to persuasively present your case to the magistrate – including the circumstances leading up to the incident – to maximise your prospects of a lenient penalty; including a potential ‘non conviction order’ in which case you will have no disqualification or suspension, nor a criminal record against your name for the incident, and no fine.

Lawyers for Negligent Driving Offences in Sutherland

Negligent driving’ is where a person drives or rides a motor vehicle in a manner that “departs from the standard of care for other users of the road to be expected of the ordinary prudent driver in the circumstances”.

There are three broad categories of the offence, which are:

  1. Negligent driving not occasioning death or grievous bodily harm,
  2. Negligent driving occasioning grievous bodily harm, and
  3. Negligent driving occasioning death.

The penalties that may apply depend on the category of the offence that is charged.

When deciding whether a person’s driving or riding amounts to negligence, the following matters must be considered:

  • The nature, condition and use of the road at the time,
  • The amount of traffic on the road at the time, and
  • Any obstructions or hazards on the road at the time.

Examples of negligence may include:

  • Causing a collision by failing to keep a proper lookout for other road users,
  • Endangering or inflicting harm to other road users by not adhering to the road rules, and
  • Endangering or inflicting harm to other road users by driving erratically.

It is important to be aware that the prosecution is required to prove negligence beyond a reasonable doubt and, in the case of negligent driving occasioning grievous bodily harm or death, that this negligence caused the injury or death.

Where it is alleging grievous bodily harm, the prosecution must also prove the injuries that were caused amounted to what the courts have described as “really serious harm”.

If the prosecution is unable to do this, the person must be found not guilty of the offence.

There are also a number of legal defences to the charge, including self-defence, duress, necessity and automatism. If evidence of any such defence is raised, the prosecution must then disprove the applicability of the defence beyond a reasonable doubt. Again, the person who is charged must be found not guilty if the prosecution is unable to do this.

A good lawyer will often be able to convince police to withdraw this charge on the basis that it cannot prove the offence to the required standard, or to defeat the charge in court by presenting material favourable to the driver or ride and challenging the prosecution’s assertions regarding proof, or by raising the availability of a legal defence.

Lawyers for Driving Furiously, Recklessly or in a Manner or at a Speed Dangerous in Sutherland

‘Reckless driving’ is where a person drives or rides a motor vehicle:

  • Furiously,
  • Recklessly,
  • In a dangerous manner, or
  • At a dangerous speed.

A range of factors will be considered when determining whether the conduct falls within one of these categories, including:

  • The nature, condition and use of the road at the time
  • The amount of traffic on the road at the time, or which might reasonably be expected on the road at that time, and
  • Any obstructions or hazards on the road at the time

The prosecution is required to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the conduct “create[d] a real danger to the public” in all of the circumstances.

A person must be found not guilty if the prosecution is unable to do this.

There are also a number of legal defences to the charge, including self-defence, duress, necessity and automatism. If evidence of any such defence is raised, the prosecution must then disprove the applicability of the defence beyond a reasonable doubt. Again, the person who is charged must be found not guilty if the prosecution is unable to do this.

A good lawyer will often be able to persuade police to withdraw this charge on the basis that it cannot prove the offence to the required standard, or to defeat the charge in court by presenting material favourable to the driver or ride and challenging the prosecution’s assertions regarding proof, or by raising evidence of an available legal defence.

In some cases, the prosecution will agree to withdraw this charge if the driver accepts a less serious charge such as speeding or negligent driving.

Lawyers for Dangerous Driving Offences in Sutherland

Dangerous driving’ is where a person drives or rides a motor vehicle in a manner which the Crimes Act 1900 considers to be “dangerous”, and as a consequence causes an impact which seriously injures or kills another person.

There are four broad categories of the offence, which are:

  • Dangerous driving occasioning grievous bodily harm,
  • Aggravated dangerous driving occasioning grievous bodily harm,
  • Dangerous driving occasioning death, and
  • Aggravated dangerous driving occasioning death.

The penalties that may apply depend on the category of the offence charged.

To establish a dangerous driving offence, the prosecution is required to prove beyond reasonable doubt that:

  1. A person was driving or riding a motor vehicle,
  2. The vehicle was involved in a collision,
  3. The vehicle was being driven or ridden in a manner that was dangerous, or at a dangerous speed, or he or she was under the influence of alcohol or an intoxicating drug, and
  4. The collision caused grievous bodily harm to (in the case of a grievous bodily harm charge) or killed (in the case of a death charge) another person.

A person must be found not guilty if the prosecution is unable to prove all of these matters.

A person is presumed to be under the influence of alcohol if he or she had the “prescribed concentration of alcohol” in his or her bloodstream at the time, which for the purposes of the section is a blood alcohol concentration of at least 0.150.

A person may be found guilty of the more serious “aggravated” version of the offence if the prosecution is able to prove that he or she:

  • Had a blood alcohol concentration of at least 0.150,
  • Was exceeding the speed limit by more than 45km/h,
  • Was “very substantially impaired” by a drug or drugs, or
  • Was driving or riding to escape pursuit by a police officer.

A person is not guilty of dangerous driving if the grievous bodily harm or death caused by the impact was not in any way attributable to:

  • Being under the influence of alcohol or other drugs,
  • The speed at which the vehicle was travelling, or
  • The manner in which the vehicle was driven.

In addition to this, a number of legal defences are available to the charge including self-defence, duress, necessity and automatism. If evidence of any such defence is raised, the prosecution must then disprove the applicability of the defence beyond a reasonable doubt. If it is unable to do this, the person who is charged must be found not guilty.

A good lawyer will often be able to persuade police to withdraw this charge on the basis that it cannot prove the offence to the required standard, or to defeat the charge in court by presenting material favourable to the driver or ride and challenging the prosecution’s assertions regarding proof, or by raising evidence of an available legal defence.

Lawyers for Speeding Offences in Sutherland

Driving in excess of the speed limit is the most common traffic offence in New South Wales, and indeed across the nation.

While speeding may seem less serious than a number of other traffic offences, it still has the potential to lead to a driver licence suspension – whether due to the nature of the offence itself or by the accrual of demerit points – or even a disqualification when it comes before a court.

The potential penalties for speeding depend on both the relevant offence category and whether the matter is dealt with by way of a penalty notice or in court.

It is important to be aware that a person who receives a penalty notice for speeding, or a court attendance notice for a more serious speeding offence such as exceeding the speed limit by more than 45km/h, can choose to defend the case on the basis that they were not speeding at the time.

In that event, the prosecution must prove the offence beyond a reasonable doubt. If they cannot do so, the driver or rider must be found not guilty and will not be fined nor receive any demerit points.

These cases can be successfully defending where the speeding is an estimate or there are other issues with the alleged speed.

That said, a driver or rider should always seek legal advice before electing (choosing) to take a speeding fine to court, because penalties imposed by a court can be heavier than those contained in a penalty notice.

There are also circumstances where a driver or rider may be able to appeal a demerit point suspension (for example, L and P Platers) or a driver licence suspension for speeding by more than 30km/h or 45km/h, with a view to reducing the suspension period (see driver licence appeals below).

A good lawyer will be able to assess the allegations, advise you of your options and the best way forward with a view to protecting your licence and potentially your livelihood.

Lawyers for Mobile Phone Camera Offences in Sutherland

The rules that apply to handling a mobile phone while driving – including where the vehicle is stationary but not parked – depend on whether a person is an unrestricted licence holder, or an L or P Plater.

Unrestricted licence holders are permitted to make or receive audio phone calls, and use music or audio functions, if the phone is either secured in a cradle fixed to the vehicle or operated without touching the phone (eg by Bluetooth), can use navigation if it is in a cradle fixed to the vehicle, and use wallet functions only if the vehicle is stationary and off the road (eg in a car park, drive way or drive thru).

L and P Platers are prohibited from doing any of the above under any circumstances.

It is not, however, an offence for a driver to hand a mobile phone to a passenger.

The fines and demerit points that apply to handling a mobile phone while driving have increased significantly in recent years, and the offence can see a driver have their licence suspended, which can affect their ability to perform their jobs and fulfil other commitments.

But it is important to be aware that the prosecution bears the onus of proving this offence beyond a reasonable doubt, and it is advisable for those who are unjustly penalised for these offences to consult a lawyer for advice about seeking to have the penalty notice withdrawn, defending the matter in court or, in certain circumstances, appealing any resulting licence suspension (see driver licence appeals below).

Lawyers for Red Light Camera Offences in Sutherland

The rules relating to driving or riding through a red light is a traffic offence are sometimes misunderstood, and their breadth often leads to drivers and riders receiving fines unfairly – when they should not have.

While it is well known it is an offence not to stop at a red light, many are not aware it is also an offence not to stop at a yellow light when it is safe to do so.

The grey area between what is safe and what is not can lead to dispute, and it is important to be aware the onus is on the prosecution to prove beyond reasonable doubt that a driver or rider has in fact committed the offence.

There have also been numerous instances of red light cameras being activated in circumstances where they should not have been.

In addition to this, there are circumstances where it is permissible to cross a red light – such as in emergency situations and where duress has been exerted.

These offences can lead to a driver or rider exceeding their demerit points and thereby having their licence suspended, which can severely impact on their lives.

For those and other reasons, it is advisable to seek advice from an experienced traffic lawyer in circumstances where a penalty notice has been issued unfairly, unreasonably or unlawfully.

Lawyers for Driver Licence Appeals in Sutherland

In addition to pleading not guilty electing (choosing) to take a penalty notice (a fine and/or demerit points or suspensions) to court – there are many circumstances whereby a driver or rider can accept responsibility for the offence but appeal to a Local Court against the penalty or penalties imposed.

This is often referred to as a ‘driver licence appeal’.

The following can be appealed:

  • A decision by the RMS to suspend a licence for speeding by more than 30 kph or more than 45 kph,
  • A decision by the RMS to suspend a provisional (red or green P) licence due to the accrual of demerit points, and
  • A decision by police to suspend a licence on the spot – for example, mid or high range drink driving, driving under the influence (DUI), street racing, aggravated burnout, speeding by more than more than 45kph or a driving offence causing death or grievous bodily harm. In these cases, exceptional circumstances need to be shown.

The following cannot be appealed:

  • A decision to suspend a full licence holder for loss of demerit points
  • A decision to suspend an interlock driver licence
  • A good behaviour licence holder’s suspension for accruing for accruing further demerit points.

The Local Court has the power to set aside any suspension altogether, to reduce it, to refuse to change it or to make any other order that seems just in the circumstances.

The matters the court will consider when deciding the appeal include the circumstances of the incident itself, the driving record, need for a licence, any evidence of remorse (eg through a letter of apology to the court and character references) and any steps taken to reduce the risk of reoffending (eg attending counselling, undertaking a traffic offender program etc).

If you are considering a driver licence appeal, it is important to seek advice from a lawyer who is experienced in these cases and will advise you what to do and when, will help you to prepare materials that are beneficial to your case and persuasively argue the matter in court – so you can get on with your work and life with as little disruption as possible.

More information on Sutherland

If you are located near Sutherland or need a professional lawyer to represent you at Sutherland Local Court, find more information on the local area below or call us 24/7 on (02) 9261 8881.

Traffic Offence FAQs

Are traffic offences crimes?

Major traffic offences such as drink driving, drug driving, reckless driving, driving whilst unlicensed, suspended or disqualified and negligent driving are considered criminal offences in New South Wales.

However, it is important to know you cannot receive a criminal record unless the matter goes before a court and a conviction is recorded against you.

Fines for traffic offences such as speeding and using a mobile phone while driving are not considered crimes, although they will be entered to your driving record.

Is drink driving a crime?

Drink driving is considered a criminal offence in New South Wales.

However, it is important to know that a criminal conviction cannot be entered against your record other than by a court.

So, for example, if you receive a criminal infringement notice for low range drink driving and you accept responsibility by paying the fine, this does not amount to a criminal record.

Is drug driving a crime?

Drug driving is considered a criminal offence in New South Wales.

However, it is important to know that a criminal conviction cannot be entered against your record other than by a court.

So, for example, if you receive a criminal infringement notice for drug driving and you accept responsibility by paying the fine, this does not amount to a criminal record.

Will I get a criminal record for a traffic offence?

‘Major traffic offences’ are criminal offences under the law in New South Wales.

These offences include:

  • Any offence involving death or bodily harm to another person caused by or arising out of the use of a motor vehicle, including murder, manslaughter, intentionally or recklessly wounding or causing grievous bodily harm (sections 33 and 35 of the Crimes Act), furious driving (section 53) and causing grievous bodily harm (section 54)
  • Predatory driving (section 51A), police pursuit (section 51B) and failing to stop and assist after impact causing death or grievous bodily harm (section 52AB),
  • Drink driving (section 110 Road Transport Act),
  • Drug driving (section 111),
  • Combined alcohol and drug driving (section 111A),
  • Driving under the influence (section 112),
  • Negligent driving occasioning death or grievous bodily harm (section 117(1)),
  • Driving furiously, recklessly or at a speed or in a manner dangerous (section 117(2)),
  • Menacing driving (section 118),
  • Failing to stop to assist after impact causing injury or death (section 146),
  • Refusing to submit to a breath analysis (clause 16(1)(b) of Schedule 3),
  • Refusing or failing to provide a blood, oral fluid or urine sample (clause 17 of Schedule 3),
  • Wilfully introducing amount or altering concentration of alcohol or other drugs (clause 18 of Schedule 3), or
  • Aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring the commission of, or being an accessory before the fact to any of the above.

However, it is important to be aware that you can only receive a criminal record if your case is dealt with in court and a conviction is recorded against your name.

Will I get a criminal record for a speeding fine?

No. Speeding fines do not by themselves carry criminal convictions.

Will I get a criminal record for mobile phone while driving?

No. Mobile phone fines do not by themselves carry criminal convictions.

Will I get a criminal record for driving while suspended or disqualified?

Driving whilst suspended or disqualified can amount to a criminal offence.

However, it is important to know that a criminal conviction cannot be entered against your record other than by a court.

So, for example, if you receive a criminal infringement notice for driving whilst suspended and you accept responsibility by paying the fine, this does not amount to a criminal record.

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