General Duty of Driver or Person in Charge of Motor Vehicle

by Doogue O'Brien George Criminal Defence Lawyers

 

How Serious is the Charge of “General Duty of Driver or Person in Charge of Motor Vehicle” in Melbourne? What’s the Maximum Penalty

There is a maximum penalty of up to 4 months imprisonment or a fine of as much as 20 penalty units for a person convicted guilty of the charge of “General Duty of Driver or Person in Charge of Motor Vehicle”. This offence covers various types of behaviour and the maximum penalty is only imposed in the worst cases. In most situations, the maximum penalty that may be given is a fine of up to 5 penalty units. The offence of “General Duty of Driver or Person in Charge of Motor Vehicle” is considered a moderately serious offence that can lead to a prison term only in the worst cases. As it is a moderately serious type of criminal offending, jurisdiction is generally given to the Magistrates’ Court.

 

The legislation on “General Duty of Driver or Person in Charge of Motor Vehicle”

The relevant legislative provision for “General Duty of Driver or Person in Charge of Motor Vehicle” is section 59 of the Road Safety Act 1986 which is as follows:

                       

General Duty of Driver or Person in Charge of Motor Vehicle

                   

(1) The driver or person in charge of a motor vehicle on a highway has the following duties-

 

(a)  to stop the motor vehicle, produce for inspection his or her driver licence document or permit document and state his or her name and address if requested or signalled to do so by-

 

(i)  a member of the police force or an officer of the Corporation or of the Department of Infrastructure (being an officer authorised in writing by the Corporation or the Secretary of the Department of Infrastructure, as the case requires, in that behalf); or

 

(ii) an officer of or person authorised in writing in that behalf by any municipal council who has reasonable grounds for believing that any provision of the regulations relating to the mass or dimensions of a motor vehicle or trailer or to the number of hours during which a person may drive a motor vehicle or to the carrying of a log book on a motor vehicle is being contravened; and

 

(b)  to obey any lawful direction given to him or her by a member of the police force under subsection (5); and

 

(c)  if requested or signalled to do so by a member of the police force or an officer of the Corporation (being an officer authorised in writing by the Corporation in that behalf), to stop the motor vehicle, produce for inspection his or her log book, permit any entry in the log book to be copied and permit the person inspecting it to make any entry in it and to search the motor vehicle if that person has reasonable grounds for suspecting that more than one log book is carried on the vehicle; and

 

(d)  if requested or signalled to do so by a member of the police force or an officer of the Corporation (being an officer authorised in writing by the Corporation in that behalf) or by an officer of or person authorised in writing in that behalf by any municipal council, to stop the motor vehicle and allow it together with its load and any trailer attached to the motor vehicle and the load of the trailer (whether those loads are goods or passengers or both) to be weighed or to be taken to be weighed at a weighbridge or weighing machine that is agreed on by the driver or person in charge of the motor vehicle and the person making the request or, if there is no agreement, at the weighbridge or weighing machine that is nominated by the person making the request.

 

(1A) The driver or person in charge of a motor vehicle that is in, or being driven from or into, a railway car park or municipal council controlled car park at or in the vicinity of a designated place has the following duties-

 

(a)  to stop the motor vehicle, produce for inspection his or her driver licence document or permit document and state his or her name and address if requested or signalled to do so by a protective services officer; and

 

(b)  to obey any lawful direction given to him or her by a protective services officer under subsection (5A).

 

(2) Subject to subsections (3) and (4), a person who fails to do anything that he or she is required to do under subsection (1) or (1A), or who when required to state his or her name and address states a false name or address, is guilty of an offence and liable-

 

(a)  if the offence consists of failing to obey any lawful direction given by a member of the police force or a protective services officer or failing to produce for inspection his or her driver licence document or permit document, to a penalty of not more than 5 penalty units;

 

(b)  if the offence consists of failing to produce for inspection his or her log book or failing to state his or her name or address or stating a false name or address or failing to permit an entry in his or her log book to be copied or failing to permit an entry to be made in his or her log book or failing to permit his or her vehicle to be searched for another log book, to a penalty of not more than 5 penalty units or imprisonment for a term of not more than 1 month;

 

(c)  if the offence consists of failing to stop the motor vehicle or failing to allow it together with its load to be weighed, to a penalty, in the case of a first offence, of not more than 10 penalty units or, in the case of a subsequent offence, of not more than 20 penalty units or imprisonment for a term of not more than 4 months.

 

(3) A person, other than a person who holds a probationary driver licence or who is driving or in charge of a large vehicle in respect of which section 19(5) applies or who has been issued with a driver licence under an order of the Magistrates' Court made on an application under section 50(4), who fails to produce for inspection his or her driver licence document or permit document is not guilty of an offence if that person-

 

   (a)  gives a reasonable excuse for the failure; and

 

   (b)  provides a specimen of his or her signature; and

 

(c)  within 7 days produces his or her driver licence document or permit document at the police station (if any) specified by the member of the police force or other person who requested its production.

 

(4) A driver or person in charge of a motor vehicle who fails to stop when required to do so in accordance with subsection (1)(a) or (1A)(a) is not guilty of an offence if-

 

   (a)  the person making the request or signal is not in uniform; and

 

   (b)  the driver or person in charge believed that that person was not-

 

(i)  a member of the police force, a protective services officer or an authorised officer of the Corporation or of the Department of Infrastructure, as the case requires; or

 

   (ii) an officer of or person authorised in writing in that behalf by a municipal council.

 

(5) A member of the police force may give such reasonable directions to a person driving or in charge of a motor vehicle on a highway as are, in theopinion of that member, necessary-

 

   (a)  for carrying into execution the provisions of this Act or the regulations; or

 

   (b)  for the purposes of any traffic survey being carried out in the vicinity of the highway.

 

(5A) A protective services officer may give to a person driving or in charge of a motor vehicle that is in, or being driven from or into, a railway car park or municipal council controlled car park at or in the vicinity of a designated place such reasonable directions as are, in the opinion of the officer, necessary for carrying into execution the provisions of this Act or the regulations.

 

(6) If a driver or person in charge of a motor vehicle who is requested under subsection (1)(d) to allow his or her motor vehicle together with its load to be weighed fails to allow it to be so weighed, the person making the request may impound the vehicle and its load, together with any trailer attached to the vehicle and the load of the trailer, and may cause the vehicle to be driven or towed onto a weighing device or to a weighbridge or weighing machine that is agreed on by the driver or person in charge and the person making the request or, if there is no agreement, to the weighbridge or weighing machine that is nominated by the person making the request, to be weighed.

 

(7) If a motor vehicle that is used on a highway and its load, together with any trailer attached to the motor vehicle and the load of the trailer, exceeds the prescribed maximum weight or any prescribed maximum dimension, a member of the police force or an officer of the Corporation (being an officer authorised in writing by the Corporation in that behalf) may require the driver or person in charge of the motor vehicle to unload any part of the load that is necessary to bring the motor vehicle, trailer or load within the prescribed maximum weight or dimension.

 

(8) If a driver or person in charge of a motor vehicle fails to comply with a requirement under subsection (7) to unload-

 

(a)  the driver or person in charge is guilty of an offence and is liable for a first offence to a penalty of not more than 5 penalty units and for a subsequent offence to a penalty of not more than 10 penalty units; and

 

(b)  the person making the requirement may drive the motor vehicle and the trailer, if any, to a police station or other convenient place and the vehicle, trailer and load may be impounded there by any member of the police force.

 

(9) A reference in this section to a driver licence document or permit document includes a reference to any other document which evidences the authorisation of the driver to drive the motor vehicle.

 

(10) Neither the Crown nor the person making a request under subsection (1)(d) or a requirement under subsection (7) nor any other person is liable for any loss or damage occasioned by or arising out of anything done in the exercise or purported exercise in good faith of the powers conferred by this section.

 

Pleading guilty or not guilty to “General Duty of Driver or Person in Charge of Motor Vehicle” in a Melbourne Court

Deciding whether you should plead guilty or not guilty to a charge of “General Duty of Driver or Person in Charge of Motor Vehicle” is a serious decision that should be carefully discussed with a criminal defence solicitor. Without proper guidance from a legal expert, your case may not be effectively defended and you may end up suffering due to an unfavourable result.

 

Elements of the charge of “General Duty of Driver or Person in Charge of Motor Vehicle” in a Melbourne Court

The prosecution must prove to the Court that the defendant has failed to comply with a lawful request or direction for the defendant to produce a licence upon request, produce log books for inspection, stop their motor vehicle, or permit their motor vehicle to be weighed. It is also an element that the defendant provided a false name.

 

Defending the charge of “General Duty of Driver or Person in Charge of Motor Vehicle” in a Melbourne Court

There are various defences that can be run in relation to this charge. For the failure to produce licence, the defendant may have a reasonable excuse for the failure to do so. The defendant may have also provided an example of the defendant’s signature and was, within 7 days, able to produce a licence or permit document at the police station (if any) specified by the member of the Police force or other person who requested for its production. In the case of a failure to stop a motor vehicle, it is a defence if the person making the request or signal is not in uniform, and if the driver or person in charge of the vehicle believed that such person was not a member of the Police force or not an authorised officer of the Corporation or of the Department of Infrastructure. It is also a defence if the defendant believed that the person making the request was not an officer of the municipal council or a person authorised in writing on behalf of it.

 

For more information on “General Duty of Driver or Person in Charge of Motor Vehicle”, you may visit the Doogue O’Brien George Melbourne Criminal Lawyers site (here).

 

Doogue O’Brien George Melbourne can provide you more detail about this

Our Head Office is at 5/221 Queen Street, Melbourne

Phone (03) 9670 5111 (24 hrs if you are in a Police Station)           

 

This article was written on Sep. 18, 2013 and relates to the law that stands at this time.



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