Court processes: How driving offences are dealt with
Category 1 driving offences: Fines or community-based sentences only
What are Category 1 driving offences?
Criminal Procedure Act 2011, s 6
These are offences that are more serious than infringement offences, but for which you can’t be sent to prison. Instead, you can only be fined, or given a community-based sentence like community work.
Category 1 driving offences are usually dealt with by fines, but can also involve disqualification from driving. Examples of Category 1 offences are:
- exceeding the speed limit by more than 50 km/h (a maximum fine of $1,000)
- driving an unsafe vehicle (maximum fine of $2,000)
- pouring oil, diesel or other substances on the road to cause wheel-spins (maximum fine of $3,000)
- careless driving that doesn’t cause injury or death (maximum fine of $3,000, and you can also be disqualified for a period)
- failing to remain stopped for the police when required (maximum fine of $10,000).
Land Transport (Road User) Rule 2004, clause 5.1; Land Transport (Offences and Penalties) Regulations 1999, Schedule 1; Land Transport Act 1998, ss 34, 36A(5), 37, 52(2)
How are Category 1 driving offences dealt with?
Criminal Procedure Act 2011, ss 14, 37, 38; Sentencing Act 2002, s 106
The process begins with the District Court sending you a notice called a “charging document”.
You then have the chance to deny and defend the charge if you want to. You’ll need to enter a plea with the court – either guilty, not guilty or a special plea. However, unlike Category 2 and 3 offences (see below), you don’t have to go to court to enter your plea if you don’t want to – instead you can simply send a notice to the courts.
If you plead guilty, you can say in your notice of plea whether you want to appear in court for sentencing. You can also include any submissions you want the court to take into account when it sentences you.
Your submissions to the judge on sentencing could include arguments for discharging you without conviction, see “Sentencing” in the chapter “The criminal courts”.
If you’re charged with any Category 1 offence and you plead not guilty, you’ll have a trial in the District Court without a jury (these are called “judge-alone trials”).