Pleading Guilty to a Traffic Offence


A person should only plead guilty to a drink driving offence if they accept responsibility for the offence and agree with the police summary of what happened. When this is the case, the person or their lawyer can proceed to inform the court that they wish to finalise the matter by way of a plea.

Process for pleading guilty

In a guilty plea, the prosecutor will hand some documents to the Magistrate. This generally includes the charge sheet, the agreed facts and the offender’s prior criminal record (if they have one). Depending on the charges there may be additional documents such as a Victim Impact Statement. Character references may be handed up by the defence and both parties will make submissions. The prosecution will make submissions about the impact of the offence and the defence will address the offender’s attitude towards the offending, any steps they have taken to avoid further offending (such as participating in traffic offender programs) and their circumstances.

The Magistrate will consider the facts presented by the police and the submissions made by you or your lawyer when deciding the appropriate penalty to be imposed. The Magistrate may decide to deal with your matter immediately or may want to adjourn your matter for a pre-sentence report or to refer you to a traffic offender program.

It is unlikely that you will have to speak at any time during your sentence. If you are asked a question by the Magistrate, you should respond honestly and respectfully to their questions. 

Courtroom etiquette

When the Magistrate is speaking to the offender, the offender should stand up. When addressing the Magistrate, you should say ‘Your Honour’. You should dress neatly and conservatively and keep your phone switched off or on silent while you are in court.

Appeal

If you are unhappy with the decision or feel that it is unfair, do not argue with the Magistrate or pass comment while in court. Speak with your lawyer outside the courtroom about the possibility of an appeal.

Penalties

The following penalties can be imposed by the court in respect of traffic offences.

  • Fine
  • Good behaviour bond – A bond to be of good behaviour
  • Community service order – Unpaid work in the community
  • Suspended sentence – A gaol sentence suspended upon you entering into a good behaviour bond
  • Periodic detention – Part time gaol either mid week or weekend detention
  • Home detention – A gaol sentence served at your home
  • Imprisonment.

If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.

WHERE TO NEXT?

In NSW, traffic offences are treated seriously. Therefore, it is important to get competent legal advice as early as possible, whether you have received a penalty notice, had your licence suspended or been charged with a serious offence. Our lawyers are highly experienced and understand the difficulties you face without a licence. We can guide you through the process while dealing with the various authorities related to your matter.

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