Traffic violations are an unfortunate reality that can come with the convenience – and responsibility – of driving a vehicle. Whether you’ve received a minor traffic infringement or you’re facing a hefty speeding fine, traffic violations can be a nuisance. They can be costly and, for some, a significant disruption if they result in gaining demerit points. Many of us rely on having our driver’s licence for our necessary day-to-day activities, such as picking up children from school, going to work, or visiting loved ones. Speeding fines in particular come with heavy penalties such as substantial fines and a suspension of your licence.
Yet not all traffic violations issued are warranted. Receiving a parking ticket or infringement notice in itself doesn’t necessarily mean that you are guilty of the alleged offence. So how can you avoid these consequences and dispute a traffic infringement?
Can I Dispute a Traffic Infringement?
The short answer is yes. You can dispute a traffic infringement, and there are a couple of ways to do this. These days, more and more fines are issued incorrectly, especially considering the recent increase in mobile speed cameras in NSW, which are known to be inaccurate in some cases. In the same token, parking fines can be erroneously issued due to a whole host of different factors, ranging from overenthusiastic council rangers to misleading or obscured signage.
There are scores of people who incorrectly assume that they simply have to accept these infringements, despite feeling that they were unjustly issued. Lucky for them, this isn’t always the case. After all, councils don’t always get it right. In 2020, three Melbourne councils were forced to refund a collective $19 million in parking fines after an extensive ombudsman investigation.
When it comes to traffic violations, your best defence is knowing exactly what your rights are and understanding how to dispute an offence that has been issued incorrectly. This guide will help you learn how to overturn a traffic violation and move on with your life as quickly as possible.
1. Assess Your Options
First things first; assess your options. When you receive a traffic violation, whether it’s an on-the-spot parking ticket or a fine sent to you in the mail, it’s wise to act quickly. If you want to dispute a traffic infringement you only have up to 60 days to do so.
Your options are:
- Accept the infringement as well as any addition of demerit points and pay the fine on the notice, ending the matter; or
- Dispute the infringement by appealing to the council or State Debt Recovery Office (SDRO), depending on who issued your notice; or
- Contest the notice in court.
Whichever route you decide to pursue, it’s crucial that you understand the pros and cons of each course of action. This will help you can make an informed decision about what to do next.
Accepting the Infringement
If you accept your infringement notice, make sure you understand the repercussions for yourself and your family. For instance, if you’ve already gained demerit points on your driver’s licence recently, will you effectively lose your licence for accepting the notice? Can you afford the traffic violation charges due?
On the flip side, if you believe you have a strong chance of winning an appeal, accepting the infringement might not be a wise option. After all, most infringements can result in an addition of demerit points to your driver’s licence.
Disputing the Infringement
If you believe that there is a good reason why the infringement notice isn’t valid, or why you should receive leniency, you should consider disputing it with the Council or SDRO.
A lawyer will help you to assess your case and weigh up the benefits against any risks.
2. Decide on Your Defence
To help you decide on the best course of action, carefully consider your defence. Grounds for contesting a traffic infringement include things like:
- A faulty parking meter;
- Having a medical issue or emergency;
- Someone else was driving the car;
- The notice being given in error; or
- Obscured or incorrect signage.
3. Gather Evidence
To make an appeal, gather your evidence together. When doing so, try to be as thorough as possible. Acceptable evidence might be:
- Photos of the way your car was parked;
- Photos of signage in the area the offence occurred;
- Photos of a faulty ticket machine; or
- A parking ticket purchased at a specific time, or a photo of the ticket in your car window.
4. Submit Your Appeal
Once you have all your evidence, request a review of your fine through Revenue NSW. If you have already paid your fine you can still request a review, it just needs to be within 28 days after receiving your notice.
If you’re not satisfied with the outcome of your review you can request to have the matter heard at court. In court, a magistrate may decide to find you Not Guilty, if your evidence is compelling and your lawyer can build a strong case.
In summary, receiving a traffic offence notice is never pleasant. Yet those who choose to dispute a traffic infringement can find it well worth their while, if they have strong evidence to suggest that an infringement was issued unlawfully.
Skilled traffic offence lawyers can advise you on these matters and assist with the process of having your case heard in court. They will prepare your case, help gather any evidence, offer advice, and, ultimately, fight your case in court.
If you need to engage a lawyer to help dispute a traffic infringement, get in touch with our highly experienced team. Our traffic offence lawyers can provide an obligation-free quote. Please contact the team at Maguire & McInerney Lawyers or phone us directly on 02 4228 5911 to learn more.