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Dealing with traffic charges

Dealing with traffic charges

What should I do if I am charged with a traffic offence?

The first thing to do is to consider your plea, that is, whether you are guilty or not guilty of the offence. If you are not sure, you should seek legal advice.

What penalties can apply if I am convicted?

If you are convicted of a traffic offence after a plea of guilty or after being found guilty at trial, the most common penalty is a fine and disqualification of your licence for a period of time. For some offences, disqualification cannot be imposed, while for others it may be imposed if the court considers it appropriate. However, for many offences, the court must order that you be disqualified from driving for a certain period of time.

There are also some traffic offences that can result in imprisonment.

For information about the penalties that may be imposed for some of the more common traffic offences, see Traffic offence penalties.

Where can I get more information about my traffic charge?

If you have been charged with a traffic offence, the following web pages may provide information that will assist you:

Do I have to attend court?

If you have been issued with a court hearing notice rather than a summons, then you have the option of attending court or not in answer to the charge.

If you choose not to attend court, you can send the notice back to the court with your plea endorsed on it. This means you can let the court know in writing whether you want to plead guilty or not guilty.

If you choose not to attend court and you do not send the notice back to the court you may be convicted in your absence. 

If you do not attend court, you should call the court Registry later that day to find out what happened - see Court locations and contacts on the Magistrates Court website. If you were convicted in your absence, your driver's licence may have been disqualified, and in some circumstances this disqualification will commence immediately.

If you are issued with a summons to attend court, then you must attend in person on the date stated in the summons.

Do I need to be represented by a lawyer in court?

Generally, it will be appropriate for you to represent yourself if the offence you are facing will not result in a serious penalty or serious consequences for you.  If, however, there is a risk of imprisonment, or disqualification of your licence will result in the loss of your job or another serious consequence, it is better if you are represented.
You may be able to determine the seriousness of your charge and the possible penalty by considering the Legal Aid WA information sheet: Traffic offences information sheet. This information sheet includes a range of useful information about traffic offences, including the penalties for some of the most common offences. This may help you decide whether you need advice or representation from a lawyer.

Where can I get legal advice and representation?

If imprisonment or another serious consequence is an option for the court when dealing with your charge, you should get legal advice before you enter any plea to the charge.

You can organise to obtain advice from a private lawyer before your court date, or you may be able to get assistance from a Legal Aid WA duty lawyer on the morning of your court appearance. Click here for more information about Legal Aid WA's Duty Lawyer Service
In some special circumstances or for very serious traffic offences, you may be eligible to be represented through a grant of aid from Legal Aid WA. Click here for information on Applying for legal aid.

Where can I get more information about appearing in court?

If you are appearing in court, the following web pages may provide information that will assist you:

Last reviewed: 01/06/2016

Last modified: 8/06/2016 5:20 PM


The information displayed on this page is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have a legal problem, you should see a lawyer. Legal Aid Western Australia aims to provide information that is accurate, however does not accept responsibility for any errors or omissions in the information provided on this page or incorporated into it by reference.