Dangerous Driving, Careless Driving, Improper Use (careless driving) (for more information on dangerous driving please click here). Frankston Magistrates Court.
The client was at traffic lights. As the light went green the client accelerated and turned right, losing traction. This caused the wheels to emit smoke, and the back of his ute to swing back and forth, albeit mildly. He was seen at a distance by police who charged him with Dangerous Driving, Careless Driving (s65) and Careless Driving (s65A improper use).
The client was an apprentice plumber in his third year, and needed his licence for work. However, when he committed the offence he was on a 12 month bond notice with VicRoads. The conditions of the bond notice were that if he committed any offence that was capable of attracting demerit points during the 12 month period, he would lose his driver’s licence for six months.
There were a number of challenges with this case. The police summary was fairly severe in the sense that the case for Dangerous Driving was clearly made out. Dangerous Driving carries a mandatory minimum period of six months licence suspension and a maximum penalty of two years imprisonment. Careless Driving carries a discretionary loss of licence and three demerit points. Three points lost during the 12 month period of the client’s Vicroads bond notice would see him suspended for a further six months.
So in total the client was looking at being suspended from driving by the Courts for six months on a Dangerous Driving charge or six months on the Careless Driving charge that breached the VicRoads bond. Also, on a plea of guilty to Careless Driving, the Court had the power to suspend the client’s driver’s licence which would run cumulatively (in addition to) any suspension imposed by VicRoads. This happens because VicRoads and the Courts work independently. Any suspension imposed by the Courts will always be in addition to any suspension imposed by VicRoads.
After extensive negotiations with the prosecution, the police were prepared to accept a plea of guilty to Careless Driving (s65A improper use) of the Road Safety Act. Importantly section 65A as opposed to s65 (careless driving) does not attract any demerit points. This was vital so as not to activate the six month suspension with VicRoads.
When the matter came to Court the client received a one month suspension and a $500 fine. It could have been a larger fine, and six to nine months off the road, so it was a great result. It meant he could keep his job and complete his apprenticeship.
This case highlights the very technical nature of the interaction between the Road Safety Act, the Courts and VicRoads and demonstrates clearly that if you have driving matters at Court you need to engage a lawyer who has intricate knowledge of all three.