Written by Andrew Fraser
April 11, 2016
You might be familiar with the infringement-notice system for certain traffic matters.
Where years ago you had to go to court for just about everything, including minor speeding matters for instance having smooth tyres or even a vehicle that created “undue noise”, now we have a relatively comprehensive system of traffic-infringement notices, issued on the spot by police.
These allow, simply by the payment of the relevant fine, for the disposal of the matter. No longer do so many minor matters, most often speeding tickets, clog the courts – and force their way into people’s police records.
The rise of infringement notices has been accompanied by the advent of the demerit-point system in the 1980s, accumulating poor driving histories and providing warnings for wayward drivers before they reach the point of having their licences suspended.
Now, Canberra is looking to go a step further, with plans to come before the ACT Legislative Assembly for a new Criminal Infringement Notice regime.
An Options Paper, out for public consultation until March 7, proposes seven new offences that could be dealt with by way of infringement notice.
They are fighting, offensive behaviour and failing to obey a move-on direction from police as well as new minor categories of theft, property damage and making off without payment – all where the amounts involved are less than $500.
The seventh, and perhaps most controversial, proposal is to deal with first-time Level 2 drink-drivers (between a blood-alcohol reading of 0.05 to 0.08) by way of infringement notice rather than a summons to court.
Your right to protest any infringement notice received will be maintained under the expanded regime, were it to be adopted.
If you dispute liability for an offence, the police can choose to withdraw the infringement notice, or prosecute and take you to court. That is an important right that should never be lost.
But advocates of the proposed changes point to the efficiency of the expanded system, allowing people to finalise minor matters via the payment of the appropriate fine – and, critically, without the need to go to court, with all the disruption that can entail.
The details of the proposed extension to Canberra’s infringement notice regime are available at the Justice and Community Safety Directorate: firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have an infringement notice matter that you are considering disputing, you should seek legal advice.
Armstrong Legal’s Canberra criminal-law team deal only in crime and traffic matters and can advise you in an obligation-free first conference about the prospects of success of your matter.