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This article was written by Michelle Makela - Legal Practice Director

Michelle has over 15 years experience in the legal industry, working across commercial litigation, criminal law, family law and estate planning.  Michelle has been involved in all practice areas of the firm and in her personal practice has had experience in litigation at all levels (state and federal industrial tribunals, the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, the Federal Court, Federal...

The Heavy Vehicle National Law and Regulator


Most Australian states and territories operate under a uniform national law in relation to truck and heavy vehicle issues. This law is known as the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL). It is overseen by the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator.

Why Was The National Law Adopted?

HVNL came into effect in early 2014. Prior to that time each state and territory had their own laws governing heavy vehicles.

The differences between the laws in different states and territories made it difficult for transport companies to operate because much of the work in the industry involves moving between states. Companies often needed to comply with several different sets of rules for mass, loading, dimension and fatigue in one journey. They also needed to obtain permits and accreditation for each state or territory that they travelled to.

The adoption of the uniform HVNL streamlined this process. It meant that most states and territories had the same rules for trucking issues. The creation of the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator also reduced the duplication of work by issuing permits and accreditations that applied nationwide.

What States And Territories Have Adopted The National Law?

As at January 2021, the HVNL had been adopted by:

  • Queensland
  • New South Wales
  • Victoria
  • South Australia
  • Tasmania
  • Australian Capital Territory

What Trucking And Heavy Vehicle Matters Does The Heavy Vehicle National Law Deal With?

HVNL deals with matters including:

  • vehicle standards and safety;
  • driver fatigue;
  • mass, loading and dimension limits and exemptions;
  • heavy vehicle speeding;
  • Performance Based Standards (PBS);
  • Intelligent Access Program (IAP);
  • accreditation programs, such as the Advances Fatigue Management (AFM) and Basic Fatigue Management (BFM) schemes;
  • enforcement and investigation powers;
  • penalties for offences under the Heavy Vehicle National Law (such as fatigue, mass, loading or dimension breaches).

What Tasks Will The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator help Me With?

The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator oversees the implementation of all aspects of HVNL. You should contact the regulator if you need help with any of the topics covered by HVNL.

In particular, the regulator is the point of contact for the following:

  • issuing of work diaries;
  • fatigue management exemptions (permits and notices);
  • heavy vehicle accreditations, such as mass management, maintenance management, and fatigue management;
  • exemptions of requirements from heavy vehicle standards;
  • most access permits (e.g. mass or dimension exemptions).

Are Any Trucking And Heavy Vehicle Matters Still The Responsibility Of The State Authorities?

The state and territory authorities have maintained responsibility for some aspects of trucking and heavy vehicle operations. These include:

  • vehicle registration;
  • vehicle inspections;
  • driver licensing;
  • all matters relating to the carriage of dangerous goods;
  • some access permits.

Who Enforces The Heavy Vehicle National Law?

HVNL is enforced by the state or territory authority in which the breach occurred. In NSW this means RMS is responsible for bringing proceedings for HVNL breaches.

Prosecutions for offences under HVNL will be dealt with in the courts of the state or territory where the offence occurred. This means that the rules of court and the criminal justice system of that state or territory will apply. This means that there can be some differences in the way offences can be dealt with between jurisdictions.

What Happens If I Am Charged With The Same Offence In Different States?

Sometimes a single breach of HVNL will occur over more than one participating state or territory. In these cases, the person can only be prosecuted in one state or territory for that single offence.

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

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