Traffic And Driving Offence Lawyers
Melbourne Traffic Lawyers
If you’ve recently been charged for a traffic or driving offence, including drinking and driving, drug driving, or driving without a licence, you need an experienced and knowledgeable lawyer to assist you in understanding the best possible outcome you can achieve and then helping you achieve that result when your matter reaches Court.
At Stary Norton Halphen, we have built and continue to maintain a reputation as a firm well equipped to handle all types of driving matters ranging from low-level infringements, to serious motor vehicle collision where death or serious injury has occurred. As experienced traffic lawyers, we routinely represent people in cases that involve:
- Culpable Driving;
- Dangerous Driving Causing Death;
- Negligent Driving Causing Serious Injury;
- Dangerous Driving Causing Serious Injury;
- Reckless Conduct Endangering Life or Serious Injury;
- Driving Dangerously;
- Careless Driving;
- Drink / Drug Driving (DUI);
- Refusing a Breath Test / Refusing to Accompany a Police Officer for a Breath Test;
- Driving While Suspended or Disqualified;
- Driving; and
- Cases that involve a range of other traffic
- If you are facing any of these charges or other charges involving a motor vehicle, get in touch with us today. You can call us on 1800 449 550 or contact us through our online enquiry form. For After Hours, please ring 0407 410 821.
Get the Best Result for Your Case
At Stary Norton Halphen, we have and continue to represent many people charged with driving offences, ranging from the most serious offences of culpable driving, dangerous driving causing death, negligent driving causing serious injury and dangerous driving causing serious injury, to those where the consequences of the offending are not as dire, such as hoon driving and other road safety offences which can result in a loss of licence.
At Stary Norton Halphen, whether you are facing imprisonment or you are facing a loss of licence, your case is important to us and we will fight hard for you. We are here to advise and inform you on the legal implications of the offence with which you have been charged and are committed to achieving the best result possible for you.
We treat every client we represent as an individual and are dedicated to taking the time and effort necessary to understand the specifics of each case. For some of our clients, this means keeping them out of jail. For others, it means helping them keep their licence; and for others, it means keeping their period of licence suspension or disqualification to a minimum. Whatever the issues of your case, we are committed to identifying what the best possible outcome is and fighting to achieve that result for you.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
Before you engage a legal representative, it’s important to understand the circumstances and implications that come with the type of traffic offence with which you have been charged.
As knowledgeable traffic offence lawyers, the first step we take is assessing whether you have a defence available to run, the strength of that defence and the potential costs you will incur in running that defence in Court.
In the event you do not have a defence or chose not to run a defence where you have remote prospects of success we will then assist you in obtaining the lowest penalty possible in the circumstances of your case.
In cases of drink driving and drug driving, it is important to obtain legal advice as soon as you are able. A good traffic offence lawyer will be able to determine whether you have a defence available to you, the strength of that defence, the potential costs of defending a charge, as well as any likely penalties you will receive if you plead or are found guilty, including any suspension or disqualification of your licence.
If you are facing a drink or drug driving charge and are in need of legal representation, get in touch with Stary Norton Halphen today to book a consultation with one of our criminal law experts. For more information, please visit our dedicated drink driving and DUI page.
There are a variety of reasons why people decide to fight speeding fines, including the belief that a Court has the discretion to overrule the imposition of demerit points or a mandatory suspension from driving. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Accordingly, do not elect to take a speeding fine to Court in circumstances where the offence you have committed incurs demerit points or a mandatory suspension in the hope a Court will overrule these aspects of your penalty. The Court does not have such powers. It is a waste of your time to elect to take a speeding fine to Court for these reasons.
The only way to prevent a loss of licence or the incurring of demerit points when you have received a speeding fine is to successfully defend the allegation of speeding. Raising a successful defence in these matters is rare and often a costly exercise. Examples of arguable defences include demonstrating that the device used to record your speed was faulty or successfully arguing that you were not the driver of the speeding vehicle.
We understand speeding fines can be expensive and a loss of licence frustrating, but if you elect to take a speeding fine to Court, you will want it to be a productive exercise where you do more than waste your own time and money.
Before you decide to take a speeding fine to Court, please remember that if you do not have an arguable defence, the Court does not have any power to prevent you from incurring demerit points or losing your licence.
Unfortunately, in most instances where you are aggrieved over a speeding fine you have received, the only thing to do is accept the penalty and move on. Only seek professional legal help if you genuinely believe you have an arguable defence, otherwise you will in all likelihood simply be making a bad situation worse.
Careless Driving, Dangerous Driving and Reckless Conduct Endangering Life or Serious Injury
Careless driving is a low level driving offence which is often laid when a person has had an accident, though an accident does not necessarily have to have occurred. A careless driving charge requires the police to establish that a person failed to exercise the degree of care and attention that a reasonable and prudent driver would exercise given the circumstances. As the maximum penalty for careless driving is a fine, the biggest issue a person faces when they are charged with this offence is that it enlivens a discretion for the Court to take away their licence. It is also important to note, particularly for people who have incurred numerous demerit points that when one pleads or is found guilty of this offence, they will automatically incur three demerit points.
Dangerous driving is a more serious offence than careless driving. It has a maximum penalty of two years’ imprisonment and a mandatory minimum period of disqualification of 6 months if the manner of your driving is dangerous, and 12 months if you exceed the speed limit by more than 45km per hour. However, excessive speed alone will not always make out the charge. The police must establish that, having regard to all the circumstances of your case, your driving subjected members of the public to a real or potential danger.
Reckless conduct charges are laid when people drive in a particularly dangerous manner placing others in danger of death or serious injury. The maximum penalty for placing a person’s life in danger is 10 years’ imprisonment, whereas the maximum penalty for placing a person in danger of serious injury is 5 years. Interestingly, there is no mandatory minimum period of disqualification from driving for these offences. However, it is our experience that those who are found guilty of these offences often lose their licence for a very long period, along with receiving a very stern penalty, such as jail or a significant amount of unpaid community work.
If you are charged with any of the offences set out above, an experienced criminal lawyer will be able to assess your prospects of successfully defending the charge and avoiding punishment or make suggestions as to an alternative charge that may be appropriately laid, which is likely to result in a lesser penalty and the potential for either a shorter period of time off the road or in some instances, no loss of licence at all.
Driving While Unlicenced and Driving Whilst Suspended or Disqualified
Driving while unlicenced is an offence which often results in a financial penalty. However, as the maximum penalty is three months’ imprisonment, repeat offenders risk unpaid community work and in some instances, immediate imprisonment.
Those caught driving while unlicenced often end up losing their licence (or the ability to obtain one for a period of time) as part of the punishment they receive from the Court. However, when being punished by a Court for driving while unlicenced, a loss of licence (or the ability to obtain one) is not a given; that is, the Court has discretion. In our experience, people who are charged with this offence are often in a much better position if, when they face Court, they have obtained their licence so as to demonstrate that they have rectified the problem which led to them being charged in the first place. While it does not completely protect you from losing your licence, it does place you in a much better position than you would otherwise have been in.
Driving while suspended or disqualified is an offence which has a maximum penalty of imprisonment and can result in a further loss of licence. Those facing the Court for the first time usually receive a fine. Therefore, the main issue for most first time offenders is the potential loss of licence. Repeat offenders face harsher penalties such as unpaid community work, immediate imprisonment and lengthy periods of suspension/disqualification. An experienced traffic offence lawyer will first determine if you have a defence to this charge so as to avoid any penalty whatsoever, but if that is not possible, depending on whether you come before the Court as a first time offender or with multiple prior convictions, they will help you mount a case to achieve the best possible result that is possible having regard to the circumstances of your case.
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What is the process for representation on a Summary Charge?
Once you instruct us we will obtain your charge sheets and will obtain a copy of the prosecution brief from the police. Once received, the brief will be analysed and we will advise on the course of action that should be pursued.
Your first appearance in the Magistrates’ Court is called a mention date. The purpose of the mention date is to determine whether you will be pleading guilty or not guilty. The matter can only proceed that day if you plead guilty to the charges.
If charges need to be negotiated then the matter will need to be adjourned to a contest mention. This is a negotiation stage. Many cases resolve at this point however that is not possible in all cases and the matter may need to be further adjourned to a contested hearing. It is at this stage that witnesses are called and cross examined.
If you are not happy with the outcome in the Magistrates' Court an appeal can be lodged and the matter will then be heard in the County Court. You should note that in lodging an appeal there is always a risk that your penalty can be increased, although this does not happen often.
How are Indictable Offences managed?
Serious indictable offences commence in the Magistrates' Court. The first appearance is a filing hearing. At that point dates will be set for the service of the hand up brief and the next date you are to attend court. The hand up brief contains all witness statements, forensic evidence and a transcription of your record of interview. The next stage is the committal mention. At that point the court will be advised on whether you are pleading guilty or not guilty.
If you are pleading guilty, you will then be committed for trial to the County or Supreme Courts. If you are pleading not guilty, your matter will be adjourned to a contested committal. At a contested committal, witnesses are called and cross examined. If a Magistrate determines that there is enough evidence that a jury could convict then the matter will proceed to the County or Supreme Court (depending on what the charges are).
If there is not sufficient evidence you may be discharged at the conclusion of the committal.
What happens if I am committed for Trial?
If you are committed for trial the following appearance will be required:
A case conference is heard before a County Court judge to identify the issues involved in the case.
A directions hearing is held to sort out preliminary matters such as anticipated length of trial, what witnesses are required and to check that funding is in place for the trial. The prosecution will provide a copy of their trial opening and the defence will detail it's case.
Either a plea date will be set or a trial date will be set.
If you are pleading not guilty, a trial will be conducted before a jury of 12 people. Their role is to determine whether you are guilty or not guilty.
An appeal can be lodged at the conclusion of a plea or a trial. The appeal can be against conviction or sentence or both. The appeal will be heard in the Supreme Court, in the Court of Appeal.
What is an Accredited Specialist?
An Accredited Specialist is a solicitor who has successfully completed a rigorous assessment program set by the Law Institute of Victoria. This includes a written examination and other tests to demonstrate that the solicitor has a sound, practical approach to the area of speciality.
Stary Norton Halphen Lawyers has six Accredited Criminal Law Specialists.
What is the difference between a Solicitor and a Barrister?
Solicitors generally prepare a case and a barrister usually argues the case in court. However, there are solicitors who do both - such as our firm.
As an advocacy based practice, Stary Norton Halphen Lawyers is thus able to both prepare case and advocate. We in conjunction with our clients determine whether we argue the matter in court or appoint a Barrister to do so.
How do I know how much my case will cost?
We will tell you in writing after discussing your options with you in detail.
If I am arrested or if the Police want to interview me what do I do?
Contact a lawyer immediately. The police must advise you that you have the right to contact a lawyer. Do not answer any questions apart from your name and address until you have spoken to a lawyer.
Does making a "No Comment record of Interview" imply that you are guilty and have something to hide?
No. No adverse inference can be drawn from silence. You have a right not to answer questions. The police will tell you that you are not obliged to answer their questions.
The police want to come on to my property and search – should I let them?
Only if they have a warrant.
Is it up to the police whether I am released from custody?
Only in the short term. Any person arrested must be released or brought before a court to determine whether they should be released on bail. While the police can oppose bail, it is ultimately a decision for a court to make after hearing the whole application.
Is it true that you can only apply for bail once?
Usually yes you can only apply for bail once. If it is refused there are restrictions as regards when you can make a further bail application. You must show new facts and circumstances.
Will my case be heard in the Magistrates’ Court or County Court?
That depends on whether you are charged with a summary offence, an indictable offence or an indictable offence triable summarily. Summary offences can only be heard in the Magistrates’ Court and can be heard in your absence. Indictable offences can only be heard in the County or Supreme Courts before a jury. Indictable offences triable summarily can be heard in the Magistrates’ Court but only if you consent to them being heard.
If I win my case can I claim my legal costs?
Yes you can in the Magistrates’ Court but this is at the discretion of the Magistrate.
Costs cannot be recovered in the County Court or the Supreme Court.
Advice from a competent and experienced criminal lawyer before you are interviewed can and often does have a meaningful impact on the outcome of your case and in some instances, is the difference between whether or not your matter proceeds to court or not.