Possible outcomes for traffic offences

A traffic offence is a form of criminal offence. There can be serious consequences for committing a traffic offence.

On this page find out:

  • Where you find most of the laws about traffic offences
  • The general types of penalties you can get for traffic offences

This information does not cover all the penalties available and does not tell you what you will actually get as the penalty for your offence. 

There is more detailed information about the types of penalties you can get for traffic offences and how they are dealt with, whether by infringement or in court, in the Legal Aid WA Infosheet - Traffic - Part 1: How to deal with your traffic offence.

There is more detailed information about the penalties for particular traffic offences in the Legal Aid WA Infosheet - Traffic - Part 2: Common offences and penalties. It will help you understand whether you could lose your licence, or whether imprisonment is an option. It will help you understand how serious your offence is and whether you should get legal advice.

If you want to know the penalty you are most likely to receive if you are dealt with by a court, you should get legal advice.

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 provisional licence will be cancelled.

Penalties can include:

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. If your disqualification is ordered by the court, it will specify how long you will be disqualified from driving. For some drink driving offences you can be given a roadside disqualification by police that lasts for 2 months and when you go to court you can be given more disqualification time. 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 disqualification. If you receive a total of 12 demerit points (or less for novice drivers) within a three year period, you will be given a demerit point suspension.  

There are three main ways that you can lose your licence:

  • driver's licence disqualification
  • demerit point suspension, and
  • Licence Suspension Order 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 always check your licence is valid before you drive. To check if your licence is under disqualification or cancellation use the Department of Transport online licence check and to check if you are under a licence suspension order for unpaid fines or infringements, use the Department of Justice online fines suspension check.

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.

There is more information about Alcohol Interlock offences and possible penalties for a number of common traffic offences in the Legal Aid WA Infosheet - Traffic - Part 2: Common offences and penalties


Resources from Legal Aid WA

More information

Department of Transport
WA Police
Road Safety Commission


Reviewed: 30 May 2024


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.