Punishment for a traffic violation can include payment of money, demerit points, driver licence suspension, and harsher penalties
There are usually two penalties for a traffic violation: the payment of money and action taken against your driver licence. If the offence is serious, it may be punishable by imprisonment or supervision. Your vehicle may be impounded or confiscated for specific offences. This article will give you a general guide to traffic penalties in Western Australia.
If you receive an infraction notice, a financial penalty will be specified on the notice. Infraction notices are common for minor offences like speeding and red light violations. If you do not contest the accusation, your penalty is payment of the specified amount.
If you go to court for a traffic offence, a judge can also assess a monetary penalty. In that case, the penalty is called a fine. Judges can often choose from a range of fines that are fixed by law, but they are usually required to impose at least the minimum fine that has been established for the offence.
As an example, the minimum fine for a first offence drink driving in Western Australia with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 is $500, but the judge can impose any higher amount, up to the maximum of $1500. The fine the judge chooses will be based on the circumstances of the offence and upon the judge’s assessment of your character.
Most traffic offences carry demerit points. If you receive 12 or more demerit points within any three year period, you face a licence suspension.
Some serious offences, such as drink driving, require the court to cancel your licence and to disqualify you from driving. For example, a conviction of first offence drink driving in Western Australia with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 will result in a mandatory minimum disqualification of 6 months.
A few offences result in the temporary or permanent loss of a vehicle used to commit a traffic offence. The police are permitted to impound a vehicle for reckless driving, speeding more than 45 km/h over the limit, some instances of driving without a valid licence, and certain “road rage” offences. Courts can also order impoundment to punish those offences. Impounded vehicles are stored until release is permitted.
Ownership of confiscated vehicles is lost forever. Confiscation is generally authorized for repeat offences that can result in impoundment. Only a court can order confiscation.
The most serious traffic offences in Western Australia can be punished by imprisonment. For example, a second offence drink driving that is committed with a blood alcohol of 0.15 or higher can be punished by up to 9 months imprisonment. Other traffic offences that carry the possibility of imprisonment include reckless driving, a repeat offence of dangerous driving, and dangerous driving causing bodily harm.
In some cases, an offender may be placed on intense supervision as an alternative to incarceration. Community service is also a potential alternative.