This section has information to help you when you go to court for a driving offence, when your licence has been suspended or when your car or number plates have been confiscated.
A driving offence occurs when someone driving a vehicle, or someone in a vehicle, breaks a law. A driver includes a rider, for example a person riding a motorbike or bicycle.
For some driving offences, the driving needs to have taken place on a 'road or road related area'. A road or road related area is more than just a public road, it includes:
If you are not sure if your driving offence took place on a road or road related area, you should get
If you commit a driving offence, you may be fined or charged. If you have received a fine, see the
Fines section of this website.
If you have been charged with a more serious driving offence, you might receive a CAN, and you will have to go to the Local Court.
Some of the more serious driving offences include:
If you are found guilty and convicted of a more serious driving offence, you may get heavy fines, lose your licence and be given a term of imprisonment. If you are charged with a serious driving offence, you should get
You may be charged with a driving offence by:
RMS is often involved in camera offences (such as red light camera or speed camera) or heavy vehicle (truck and bus) offences.
The organisation who charges you will usually be the organisation that prosecutes the case. This means they will run the case against you when you go to court. If NSW Police charged you, a police prosecutor will usually represent the police. If RMS charged you, a RMS prosecutor will usually prosecute, however, sometimes they may ask the police or a private solicitor to appear for them in court.
The court deals with a driving offence as a criminal case. In criminal cases, the prosecutor must convince the magistrate that you committed the offence 'beyond a reasonable doubt'. This means that the magistrate must be sure that you:
What the prosecutor has to prove depends on the offence and the evidence they have. Many driving offences are known as 'strict liability' offences. This means the prosecutor must prove that you committed the offence, but does not need to prove that you meant (intended) to break the law. For example, for a charge of mid range PCA, the police don't need to prove that you drove knowing you were intoxicated. They only have to show that:
A defence is an explanation or reason that suggests you should not be found guilty of a charge.
A defence may be:
Some common examples of a legal excuse or justification for your actions include:
Working out whether you have a defence to a driving charge can be very difficult. You should get
legal advice about the circumstances of your case as soon as you can.
For more information about what happens after you are charged, see
Responding to a charge.
For some serious driving offences, the police can suspend your licence on the spot. RMS can also suspend your licence if you are caught speeding.
For more information, see
Losing your licence.
For some serious driving offences, the police can:
For more information, see
Losing your car or number plates.
For answers to frequently asked questions, see
Frequently asked questions.
State Library NSW - Defend yourself: facing a charge in court
Legal Aid NSW - Going to Court: guide to the local court for defendants
Legal Aid NSW - Are you disqualified from driving?
Legal Aid NSW - Disqualified from driving? (Aboriginal version)