Possible outcomes for traffic offences
A traffic offence is a form of criminal offence. There can be serious consequences for committing a traffic offence.
This information will help you understand the types of penalties you can get for traffic offences. It covers penalties imposed by a court, as well as for infringement notices. It does not cover all the possible penalties.
If you know the offence you have been charged with and whether you have previous convictions, this information may assist you in determining things such as whether you may lose your licence, or whether imprisonment is an option. It does not take into account all of the factors that may exist in your case.
You should get legal advice if you want to know more about the penalty you are most likely to receive when you are sentenced.
- Where you find most of the laws about traffic offences
- What penalties you can get for traffic offences
Where can I find the laws about traffic offences?
Most traffic offences that are dealt with by a court are found in the Road Traffic Act 1974 (WA). Some are also found in the Road Traffic (Administration) Act 2008 (WA) and the Road Traffic (Authorisation to Drive) Act 2008 (WA).
What penalty can I get for a traffic offence?
The types of penalties you can be given depend on the offence and your criminal record. For some offences, the penalty changes depending on how many times you have been convicted of the offence (or similar offences).
Convictions for traffic offences that are more than 20 years old are not counted as prior convictions. Juvenile convictions and spent convictions count as prior convictions for traffic offences. Prior offences dealt with by an infringement notice do not count as prior convictions, except when determining whether a probationary licence will be cancelled.
Penalties can include:
- Demerit points
- Licence disqualification (which can result in your licence being cancelled)
- Impounding or confiscating your vehicle
- Community Based Orders
- Intensive Supervision Orders
- Imprisonment for some serious offences
You might receive more than one type of penalty for an offence (for example, a fine and period of licence disqualification).
What can happen to my driver's licence?
Many offences have penalties that can affect your driver's licence. Disqualification means that you are not allowed to drive for a period of time specified by the court. In certain circumstances, your licence may also be cancelled and you will have to re-sit your test to get your licence back when the disqualification has ended.
For some offences, especially if you have been given an infringement notice, you may receive demerit points instead of a disqualification. If you receive a total of 12 demerit points (or less for novice drivers), you will be under a demerit point suspension.
There are three main ways that you can lose your licence:
- driver's licence disqualifications
- demerit point suspensions, and
- Licence Suspension Orders for unpaid fines or infringements.
If your licence is subject to more than one type of disqualification or suspension, there are complicated rules about when the different orders start and finish. This could mean that it will take even longer before you are able to legally drive again.
You should get legal advice to work out when your licence will be clear, and try to get direct confirmation from the Department of Transport before you drive again.
Are there fixed penalties for offences?
For many traffic offences, a minimum penalty is fixed by law. This might be a fine, or a fine and period of disqualification. The court must impose at least the minimum fine and at least the minimum period of disqualification for the particular offence. The court can impose more if it thinks it is appropriate, but can never impose less than the minimum.
For some offences you might also be subject to the Alcohol Interlock Scheme. You will then need to meet certain requirements from the Department of Transport before being permitted to drive.
The possible outcomes for the most common traffic offences are explained in the infosheet below.