Criminal &
Traffic Law

Traffic Law

Being charged with a traffic offence that could result in a criminal conviction and severe penalties can be extremely stressful and have a devastating impact on your life, family and career. Our experienced traffic law team can assist you through this difficult time.

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs

There are a range of drink driving offences with each offence carrying different penalties and suspension periods.

It is also an offence to drive under the influence of drugs or with the presence of certain illicit drugs in a person’s oral fluid, blood or urine.

These offences prescribe ordinary and minimum period of licence disqualification, monetary fines and, for serious offences, imprisonment. More severe penalties apply if a person has a previous history of traffic offences.

As the Court has discretion to impose a lesser penalty for traffic offences, it is important to understand the circumstances under which a Court might consider reducing a penalty and prepare accordingly.

The Court may also prove the charge but not proceed with a conviction. In this case the charge is dismissed either unconditionally or subject to conditions such as a good behaviour order. No criminal conviction is recorded, and no penalty imposed.

Refuse breath or drug analysis

Refusal to submit to a roadside screening can result in arrest and subsequent request for a breath analysis or drug testing.

Refusal to submit to a further breath analysis after having given an initial positive reading is a criminal offence and carries the same penalties as a high-range PCA offence.

Similarly, the penalties for refusing to comply with a request for a test, analysis or assessment for a prescribed illicit drug are generally equivalent to the maximum penalty for the substantive offences.

Dangerous or negligent driving

Dangerous and or negligent driving falls within a range of serious categories considered to be major offences. These include:

  • furious / reckless driving;
  • menacing driving;
  • improper use of a vehicle;
  • failing to stop;
  • negligent / dangerous driving causing death or grievous bodily harm;
  • murder or manslaughter arising from the use of a motor vehicle.

Significant penalties apply for these offences and each case is determined in accordance with the surrounding circumstances. These matters can be very complex with the accused often facing a series of offences.

Going to Court

The outcome of a traffic matter may be improved by ensuring the person facing Court is properly informed and equipped to answer the charges. Obtaining dependable and relevant legal advice can make a big difference.

Many traffic offences have automatic disqualification periods. These penalties may be reduced if there is appropriate reason to do so. This requires supporting evidence and a well-prepared case. The Court will generally consider the person’s:

  • character, work history, prior criminal history and family circumstances;
  • involvement in the community;
  • underlying medical (or other) issues relevant to the offence;
  • reliance on a driver’s licence for work or other reasons such as the need to travel for ongoing medical treatment and the consequential impact the loss of a licence has or will have.

Criminal Matters

Our criminal law team can assist if you are arrested, charged or approached by the police to provide a statement regarding a criminal offence. We appear in the Magistrates and Supreme Courts representing people on a range of matters including:

  • Drink / drug driving
  • Minor to serious driving offences
  • Common Assault, resist arrest
  • Drug matters, possession, cultivation, dealing
  • Sexual assault, indecent assault
  • Domestic violence / Apprehended Personal Violence Orders (APVOs) and Apprehended Domestic Violence Orders (ADVOs)
  • Robbery, burglary theft, property damage
  • Bail applications

Things to remember with a criminal matter

Police officers have various powers to enable them to do their job. The manner in which a criminal matter and investigation proceed depends on a number of things such as the type of offence, the age of the person of interest and the surrounding circumstances. This is usually a very anxious time for all concerned and it is important to obtain legal advice early.

Remember:

  • A police officer must make it clear to an apprehended person that he or she is being arrested and advise the person why. You have the right to ask what offence you are being charged with.
  • A valid arrest enables a suspect to be questioned about their identity by police. However, unless a formal arrest is made a person is not obliged to accompany a police officer.
  • Talk to a lawyer before making a statement to the police – in many cases, if you are arrested, you need not give any more information than your name and address.
  • If a person is not under arrest, a police officer may conduct a search in certain circumstances. The police officer must provide his or her name, rank and tell you why the search is being conducted.
  • You should comply with a police search request, but you need not consent to the request. If you do not consent, you should state this clearly and ask that your objection be noted.

A criminal record can have serious consequences, affect your career and job opportunities, potential scholarships and overseas travel. If you are involved in a criminal investigation or have been charged with an offence it is vital to obtain immediate legal advice to ensure your rights and interests are protected.

If you need any assistance contact one of our lawyers at reception@oconnorharris.com.au or call 02 6247 6077 for a no-obligation discussion and for expert legal advice.