The Magistrates Court of Victoria determines various traffic offences which includes, exceeding the speed limit, driving while suspended, dangerous driving, driving an unregistered vehicle, and breaching road rules.
Most breaches of road rules will incur a traffic infringement of a fine, and loss of demerit points. You can choose to take the matter to court instead of paying the fine.
The most common infringements taken to court are:
- using a mobile phone while driving
- running a red light
- failure to wear a seat belt, and
- not displaying P or L plates.
There are over 200 road rules in Victoria which are contained in the Road Safety Act 1986, the Road Safety Road Rules 2009, and various regulations relating to licensing, drivers, and traffic management. The issuing and enforcement of infringements is governed by the Infringements Act 2006.
Penalties for traffic offences in VIC
The penalties for a traffic offence depend on the nature of the offence and can include:
- a fine
- loss of demerit points
- licence suspension
- vehicle impoundment, and
For more serious traffic offences you will be required to attend court. These types of offences include:
- driving while suspended
- excessive speeding
- dangerous driving, and
- hoon related offences.
Victorian police are able to impound or immobilise your vehicle immediately for 30 days if you commit a high risk driving or hoon offence. These will include:
- exceeding the speed limit greater than 45 km per hour
- loss of traction
- street racing
- recklessly entering a level crossing when a train is approaching
- refusing to stop for police
- carrying more passengers than seat belts
- repeat offences of disqualified driving, and
- repeat DUI, or drug driving.
If you are a repeat offender the court may impose a further period of impoundment of between 45 days to 3 months. If you are a third time offender you can have your vehicle permanently confiscated by the Court. If you have been given a traffic infringement, but failed to pay, then it may be referred to the Infringement Court for enforcement.
Infringement Court of Victoria
The Infringements Court is a division of the Magistrates Court, and deals with the enforcement of unpaid infringement notices such as parking, speed, and camera fines. If you do not take any action upon receiving the traffic infringement, or pay the penalty reminder notice, the issuing agency will lodge the enforcement notice with the Infringement Court for enforcement.
There are over 130 issuing agencies in Victoria that can refer unpaid fines for enforcement. These include:
- the EPA, and
- the Victorian Taxi Directorate.
Once within the Infringement Court an Order will be made by the registry which is as enforceable as an Order made by the Magistrates Court. You will then be sent a copy of the Order, including additional fees that will need to be paid. Failing to do so will result in an infringement warrant being issued against you. This allows the sheriff’s office to suspend your licence, or suspend the registration of your vehicle.
It is important to note that the further down the process your infringement goes the amount you have to pay will increase with the addition of further fees, and penalties; and the fewer options you will have to contest the offence.
Victoria’s Safe Driving Program
From February 2013, legislation was introduced that requires those convicted of certain driving offences for which their vehicle has been impounded to complete a court-ordered VicRoads Safe Driving Program. The program runs for five hours and uses behaviour-change principles to provide factual information on the risk of dangerous driving habits, encourages you to talk about your motivations and behaviour, and identifies how you can change you driving behaviour.
If the court orders you to participate in the program you have 4 months to complete the course and provide VicRoads with a Certificate of Completion. If you fail to complete the course then you may be faced with an indefinite licence suspension.