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10 Traffic Law Myths: BUSTED

Here are 10 myths about traffic matters that we sometimes hear and short explanations for why they are “BUSTED”. For more information and specific advice about your matter, please contact Armstrong Legal on (02) 9261 4555.

Myth 1: You can’t get booked by a red light speed camera when the light is green.


Driving above the speed limit is an offence whether the light is red or green and the speed cameras do not turn on and off with the red light.

Myth 2: The police officer was standing on private property so he can’t charge me.


What the police officer who charges you does in the course of giving you a ticket or Court Attendance Notice does not change whether you are guilty or not guilty of an offence- it is your behaviour that is key.

Myth 3: If I get “home safe” I cannot be charged with drink driving.


If you are on your property then you are under no obligation to consent to a breath test. However, if you nonetheless give a breath sample it may be admissible against you in court. If you don’t give a sample you can still be charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, which carries the same penalties as a Mid-Range PCA offence.

Myth 4: If there’s an error on the ticket I will be found not guilty.


Errors such as in the spelling of your name, your number plate, your date of birth and even the date of the offence can all be corrected. Whether or not you are guilty always depends on whether it can be proved that you committed the elements of the offence charged and whether there are any legal defences available to you.

Myth 5: I can fill in a “Written Notice of Pleading” and get a section 10 without going to court.


This is a myth that is often shared with offenders by police. When you are given a Court Attendance Notice you should also be given a form that you can fill out and send to court instead of attending. If you do this you are highly unlikely to be given the benefit of a dismissal without a criminal conviction because it tells the magistrate that you do not care enough to see the matter through and even if the Court wanted to give you a section 10, you are not there to enter a section 10 bond, so this rules out that option.

Myth 6: If I don’t pay the ticket then my licence will never be suspended.


If you fail to pay a traffic fine before the expiry of the Penalty Reminder Notice then the ticket will be enforced. This means that the matter will be applied to your traffic record and any suspensions flowing from this will be imposed. Separately, if you still don’t pay the fine Revenue NSW will suspend your licence until the amount is paid.

Myth 7: I have unlimited demerit points on my international licence.


The law on this has recently changed (see blog here). If you are driving in NSW on a foreign licence then you are allowed the same number of points as a NSW driver (13). If you accrue 13 or more points then your licence will be suspended for the same amount of time as it would have been had you held a NSW licence.

Myth 8: If I fail the NSW driving test or have my NSW licence suspended, cancelled or disqualified I can go back to driving on my foreign licence.


Once you have applied for a NSW licence you are no longer allowed to exercise visiting driver privileges using other licences. This means that if you attempt the P1 driving test to obtain a NSW licence and fail, you will be given a NSW Learner Permit and will not be able to drive unaccompanied until you pass the test. It also means that if your NSW licence is suspended, cancelled or disqualified then you must wait until you hold a valid and active NSW licence before you can drive again.

Myth 9: If I pay a bigger fine I can avoid demerit points and/or time off the road.


Ours is not a criminal justice system in which bribery works, or different rules apply to those who can pay a greater fee. Part of the fairness of our system is that you can’t buy your way out of a set penalty, so there is no way to pay more to avoid other consequences for your behaviour.

Myth 10: If I don’t receive notification in the post about my matter or licence then it must be okay.


At all times your licence and legal matters are your responsibility. If you are unsure about the status of your licence then you must call the Roads and Maritime Services to be sure that you are licenced to drive before you get behind the wheel. If you think that you may have missed a fine then it is up to you to call Revenue NSW to check that they have not suspended your licence for non-payment before you drive. If you have received a yellow Court Attendance Notice and do not hear further from police then you are required to attend court on the date on the Notice. If you have misplaced the Notice or forgotten your court date then you must check the online court list or contact the court to work out when it is. Not checking these things is not a defence to driving unlicenced, nor is it always a valid reason to annul a conviction imposed on you when you have missed your court date- so be careful.

When you have been charged with a traffic matter it is important to speak with an expert to avoid the common errors and mistaken beliefs of other road users. The dedicated traffic lawyers at Armstrong Legal know the truth from the myths and are ready to help with your matter. Please call 1300 168 676.

Image Credit – Iakov Filimonov ©

Written by John Sutton on January 6, 2018

John is the National Director of Criminal Law at Armstrong Legal. The experience John possesses, being a high quality mix of defence and prosecution skills, together with his team at Armstrong Legal, mean you can be certain of accurate, dependable and practical advice on how your matter can dealt with. View John's profile

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