Australia takes speeding seriously, and Australians who are caught driving over the speed limit can face serious consequences ranging from large fines to suspension of their driving licenses. Observing legal speed limits is the obvious way to avoid fines. However, it’s not always easy to tell when you’re breaking the law, or what the consequences will be if you’re caught – particularly when you’re driving out of your home state.
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Here’s a breakdown of how speeding offences are handled in Australia and how to avoid speeding fines and demerit points.
All Australian states issue fines for speeding offences that are witnessed by public authorities or captured on traffic monitoring devices. However, the severity of these vary from state to state. This is because fining of road offences is delegated to state governments, rather than handled by the central government.
So, for example, New South Wales has heavy fines associated with speeding offences, but these only kick in once a driver has exceeded the legal speed limit by 10%. Meanwhile breaking the legal speed limit in Victoria by even a slim margin is considered a speeding offence, while fines are a little lower than other states.
Fine amounts are subject to change, and also vary by vehicle type, so the best way to keep tabs on the cost of speeding fines is to check in occasionally with state authorities.
You can view information on speeding penalties by state on the following links:
Demerit points are used to ensure that drivers who repeatedly infringe road laws are taken off the roads. This system also ensures that bad drivers who’re also well-heeled aren’t simply able to repeatedly pay their way out of trouble when caught.
As soon as you are awarded a license to drive a vehicle you are allocated a demerit point balance of zero. Demerit points are then added to your record every time you are caught violating a road law while in control of a vehicle.
The way demerit points are allocated can be quite confusing. Factors such as the driver’s license you are on, whether or not it’s a public holiday, what type of traffic zone you’re in and which state you commit the offence in can all impact the number of demerit points you’re slapped with when you’re caught offside. The state you live in will determine the total number of points you’re required to reach before your license is suspended.
Once you reach the maximum demerit balance for your state you’ll be issued with a notice that offers you a choice between a temporary suspension of your driving license and the option of staying on the road without generating any further offences for a period of 12 months. If you take the latter option and cop another demerit point your license will immediately be suspended for double the original specified period.
Demerit points expire after a period of 3 years from the date of the relevant offence. While speeding is one of the risky behaviours that can result in the highest demerit point penalties, it’s just one of dozens of minor and major traffic offences that incur penalties.
Therefore it’s a good idea to check your demerit point balance on a regular basis to have an idea of how close you are to the license suspension threshold.
You can check your demerit point balance online using the following links:
Residents of Tasmania and ACT will need to contact their local transport departments directly to determine their demerit points balance.
Avoiding speeding fines and demerit points
The simplest way to avoid speeding fines and demerit points is to observe the legal speed limit whenever you are on the road.
Legal speed restrictions vary by the type of road you are travelling on, and can also vary by state.
Periodic signage indicating the speed limit is often, but not always, posted along the road. Where this signage is visible you should always stay beneath the indicated speed limit.
When signage is not available or clearly visible it can be difficult to determine what the legal speed limit is. Therefore, in these situations you should reference speed limits which are considered the default across the country and apply in the absence of signage.
- 50 km/h in built-up (urban) areas, excepting:
- 40 km/h in school zones or other areas with high volumes of pedestrian activity
- 10 km/h in shared zones, where both pedestrians and motor vehicles are on the
- 100 km/h outside of built-up areas.
The exception to this rule is in the Northern Territory where the general urban speed limit is 60 km/h and the speed limit outside of built-up areas is 110 km/h.
Legal defence against alleged speeding offences
It is possible to make honest and reasonable mistakes that lead to speeding offences. In cases such as this you are able to contest the charge in court. A successful defence can result in lowering the category of the offence as well as the associated demerit point penalty and fine.
It is advisable to contact a legal advisor before defending a speeding offence, as your definition of ‘honest and reasonable mistake’ may vary from the legal definition. For example claiming that you believed the speed limit was higher than it actually was is not considered a valid defence.
Also bear in mind that defending a speeding offence in court can be expensive, and may even backfire in the form of heavier penalties if your defence is unsuccessful.
Monitor your speeding
Speeding can easily become a habitual activity that you are not aware of until you get caught by authorities. One of the best ways to avoid speeding fines and demerit points is to use technology to monitor your driving and adjust it according to the feedback you receive.
UbiCar offers a smartphone telematics app that can score every trip you take and give you a score according to how often you speed. The app will also score other elements of your driving, like cornering, braking, acceleration and phone distraction, providing you with the necessary feedback to become a better driver.
UbiCar also rewards safer driving with fairer priced car insurance quotes and other rewards.