Traffic Law

While most traffic offences are dealt with by way of demerit points and fines, some offences are deemed serious enough to be dealt with by the Local Court. Further, if you have been charged with a traffic offence and do not agree that you have committed the offence, your matter will likely end up in the Local Court.

We are experienced Illawarra criminal lawyers and can assist with a range of traffic offences and violations including:

  • Driving under the influence of alcohol/drugs
  • DUI – low-range, mid-range, high-range Prescribed Concentration of Alcohol (PCA) offences
  • Unlicensed driving/licence suspensions
  • Speeding offences
  • Negligent driving
  • Dangerous driving

Serious Traffic Offences

If you commit a serious traffic offence, such as speeding by more than 30kph over the speed limit, negligent driving, or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you might be issued a Court Attendance Notice (CAN).  Your driving licence may also be suspended on the spot by the arresting police.

If you receive a CAN, your matter will be dealt with by a Magistrate in the Local Court, and you will need to enter a plea (guilty or not guilty). If you plead not guilty, the prosecutor will need to prove the offence beyond reasonable doubt to get a conviction. As there are sentencing discounts for the early entry of a guilty plea, it is important to get advice on your matter if you are unsure of how to plead or if you are considering entering a not guilty plea.


Some serious traffic offences also attract automatic suspensions of your drivers licence. For example:

  • speeding more than 30kph – 3 month suspension
  • speeding more than 45kph – 6 month suspension
  • driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol – minimum 3 month suspension

If your licence has been automatically suspended, you may wish to appeal the suspension. To do so, you must lodge your appeal within 28 days of the date you were suspended and pay the appropriate filing fee. The Local Court may grant or dismiss your appeal. It may also decide to vary the suspension period. For these appeals, it is always wise to brief a competent criminal lawyer to advocate on your behalf, and to marshall evidence that is in your favour.

Drink driving (DUI) offences

Driving under the influence of alcohol is an offence. Different limits for the PCA apply for different licence holders.

If a person is convicted of a drink-driving offence, there is an automatic period of disqualification during which they cannot hold a licence. The penalties imposed depend on the PCA reading and whether the person is a first-time offender or has had a previous offence or offences. More severe penalties apply if a person has a previous history of major traffic offences. As the Court has discretion to impose a lesser penalty for a DUI offence, it is important to understand the circumstances under which a Court might consider reducing a penalty and prepare accordingly.

Dangerous or negligent driving

Dangerous and/or negligent driving falls within the range of serious major offences. These may include:

  • furious/reckless driving
  • predatory/menacing driving
  • hoon offences/burnouts
  • police pursuits
  • negligent/dangerous driving causing death or grievous bodily harm
  • murder or manslaughter arising from the use of a motor vehicle

Severe penalties apply for these types of offences with each case determined in light of the surrounding circumstances. These matters can be very complex with the accused often facing a series of offences listed in the Court Attendance Notice.

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 legal advice and having an experienced lawyer to speak for you can make a big difference.

Many traffic offences have automatic disqualification periods which can be reduced if the Court can be persuaded to do so. Penalties may also be reduced if there is appropriate reason to do so. This requires supporting evidence and a well-prepared case. The Court may 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

Facing a serious traffic offence can be very distressing. The likelihood of losing your licence for a long time, being penalised, and having a criminal conviction recorded can have a significant impact on your career and your future generally. We have extensive knowledge and experience in traffic law and have represented many clients in Court for a range of traffic offences.

If you need assistance, contact one of our Illawarra traffic offence lawyers at [email protected] or call 02 4297 6066 for expert legal advice.