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Honest and Reasonable Mistake

Honest and Reasonable Mistake is a defence to ‘strict liability’ offences which are offences for which the prosecution does not need to prove that you acted with a level of negligence, recklessness or intent.

Strict liability offences include:

  1. Speeding
  2. Drink or Drug Driving, and
  3. Driving whilst unlicensed, suspended or disqualified

You are not guilty of these offences if you are able to prove, ‘on the balance of probabilities’, that:

  1. You were honestly mistaken about a fact which is part of an essential ingredient of the offence, and
  2. Your mistake was reasonable in the circumstances

The defence may be appropriate to use where:

  1. Your speedometer was registering below your vehicle’s actual speed and you genuinely and reasonably believed you were traveling below the speed limit
  2. You smoked cannabis and still had the substance in your system many days later after receiving advice it should not still be there
  3. You inhaled second-hand cannabis smoke but did not know, and could not have known, the drug was in your system
  4. Your food or drinks were ‘spiked’ and you were genuinely unaware that you had drugs or alcohol in your system, or you thought you were fatigued or tired rather than affected, and
  5. Where you were driving whilst suspended but you did not know, and could not reasonably have known, about the licence suspension

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