The Traffic laws in Victoria are taken very seriously and any infringement of the law will result in harsh penalties. This is to ensure that Victorian roads are safe for all motorists and to reduce the number of motor vehicle accidents and fatalities on public roads. Police have numerous rights and obligations when dealing with motorists in Victoria. In particular, they have the right to direct a vehicle to stop to the side of the road. Failing to stop for police in Victoria may result in a fine and/or imprisonment. This is prescribed under the Road Safety Act 1986 and dealt with by Victorian traffic authorities.
Section 59 of the Act provides that motorists on Victorian roads have a duty to stop their vehicle, produce their driver’s licence for inspection or provide their name and address if directed to do so by a police officer. If at any time a driver fails to comply with such a direction, they will be deemed to have infringed the Act and will have committed an offence under section 64A.
A person will be charged under this section if they continue to drive a motor vehicle after being given a direction to stop. As a Victorian motorist, you may also be committing a crime if you did not stop by mistake but ought to have reasonably known that you were meant to stop for a police officer. This would most likely apply to a situation where you are signalled to pull over and stop at an RBT site or where the request was not direct (i.e. flashing of lights, sounding of a police alarm).
In Victoria for any first time offender caught refusing to stop for a police officer, a fine of approximately $9,000 may apply and/or a term of imprisonment not exceeding 6 months. Any second or subsequent offence may carry a penalty of 12 months imprisonment or a fine of up to $18,000.
In addition to any fine or term of imprisonment handed down to the offender, the courts are required to cancel or disqualify the individual’s licence for a further period of at least 6 months. A second or subsequent offender will have their licence cancelled or disqualified for a period of at least 12 months. The courts will consider the severity of the offence when determining the length of the disqualification.
Under the Act, it is possible to be charged with additional offences if you have refused to stop for police after a direction to do so and have committed another offence under the Act. These are explained briefly below.
If you have refused to stop for police by evading the police direction or fleeing from the area, you may be charged with dangerous or careless driving. You may be charged with dangerous driving if you are caught driving a motor vehicle at a speed or in a way that is dangerous to other motorists. If charged with this offence, you may be liable to serve a term of imprisonment of 2 years. You may also face additional periods of disqualification, as the court deem reasonable in the circumstances.
Similarly, you may also be charged with careless driving if you are caught driving a motor vehicle on a highway in a manner that is deemed to be careless. This offence is not as serious as a charge of dangerous driving but will still carry a fine of roughly $2,000 if it is your first offence and $4,500 for a second of subsequent offence.
Under the Victorian Act, in limited circumstances you may have a defence available to you. For example, you may be able to claim that you were not able to stop your vehicle within a reasonable time after the direction was given or that the charge is unnecessary or unsupported by evidence. Additional defences may arise in circumstances where there is a dispute as to the facts surrounding the charge. It is essential to keep in mind that these defences are quite complex and need careful consideration by a legal professional before being pleaded in the courtroom.