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Fail To Stop For Police (ACT)

Under the Road Transport (Safety and Traffic Management) Act 1999, if a police officer asks or signals a driver to stop the motor vehicle, the driver must stop as soon as practicable. If the driver does not, they face licence disqualification, and a fine or imprisonment.

The maximum penalty for a first offence is 100 penalty units ($16,000), imprisonment for 12 months or both. For a subsequent offence, the maximum penalty is a fine of 300 penalty units ($48,000), imprisonment for 3 years, or both. Under the Road Transport (General) Act 1999, an automatic licence disqualification of at least 3 months also applies for a first offence, and a minimum of 12 months for a subsequent offence.

The former Act also allows the impounding or forfeiture of a vehicle if a person is convicted of failing to stop the vehicle for police. For a first offence, the vehicle can be impounded for 3 months, and for a subsequent offence, the vehicle can be forfeited to the territory. The court has discretion in imposing an order to impound or forfeit a vehicle, and can opt not to impose such an order if it is satisfied the penalty would cause excessive hardship or other injustice to anyone.

When police can stop a vehicle

A police officer can stop a vehicle for reasons including:

  • to conduct a random breath test;
  • to inspect a vehicle for roadworthiness;
  • when the officer suspects there may be stolen property in the vehicle;
  • when the officer detects the driver speeding.

Furious, reckless or dangerous driving

Under the Act, a person must not drive a motor vehicle furiously, recklessly or at a speed or in a way that is dangerous to the public. If while committing this driving offence, a person fails to comply with a direction from police to stop, the offence becomes an aggravated offence and the penalties for it increase.

If there are other aggravating factors involved, such as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, on top of failing to stop for police, the penalties will be harsher.

For a first aggravated offence, the maximum penalty is 300 ($48,000) penalty units, imprisonment for 3 years, or both.  For a subsequent aggravated offence, the maximum penalty is 500 penalty units ($80,000), imprisonment for 5 years, or both.

The court must consider the circumstances of the offending, including factors such as the nature, condition and use of the road; and the amount of traffic.


Defences to the charge of failing to stop for police include:

  • that the direction given by police was not clearly given;
  • duress;
  • necessity.

For advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.

Sally Crosswell

This article was written by Sally Crosswell

Sally Crosswell has a Bachelor of Laws (Hons), a Bachelor of Communication and a Master of International and Community Development. She also completed a Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice at the College of Law. A former journalist, Sally has a keen interest in human rights law.

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