Speeding Offences

Speeding Offences

The law in relation to general speeding offences are found in Part 3 of the Road Traffic Code 2000 (WA).  There is a further offence of “driving at a reckless speed” pursuant to s.60A of the Road Traffic Act 1974 (WA) which is covered in the section on “Driving Offences”.  This section contains details regarding general speeding infringements.

Whilst varying speed limits apply to roads, pursuant to reg.18 of the Road Traffic Code 2000 (WA), these speed limits do not justify a person driving at a particular speed if the circumstances at the time would make that speed “reckless”.  For example, if a person is driving on a road which has a speed limit of 100 km/h but at the time the traffic is very heavy and the weather is inclement, that person may be considered to be driving “recklessly” at 90 km/h.  Whilst they are not exceeding the speed limit, the manner of their driving can still be considered “reckless” and they may becommitting the offence of “Driving in a Reckless Manner”.

A person who receives a speeding infringement will usually receive a penalty notice in the first instance.  The person then has the option of paying the amount of the penalty notice and incurring the relevant demerit points.  A person who wishes to dispute an alleged speeding infringement can elect to have the matter heard in the Magistrates Court.  If a person elects to dispute the infringement in court, the police will be required to produce evidence of the speed at which they allege the person was driving.

There are a number of methods which can be used to detect the speed of vehicles for the purpose of enforcing speed limits.  These include:

  • Hand-held radar and laser devices and vehicle mounted radar devices;
  • Mobile and fixed speed-cameras; and
  • Detection by Police using a method whereby they use their own vehicle speed to establish the speed of a vehicle driving in front of them.

In seeking to prove an alleged speed, the police rely on certain evidentiary provisions to assist them.  For example, if the relevant speed was detected using a speed camera, pursuant to s.117A of the Road Traffic (Administration) Act 2008 (WA), the police can tender a photograph from the camera as a certificate.  This certificate will contain an image of the vehicle when it was detected as well as the details of the location, time, date and speed at which the vehicle was detected travelling.  The certificate is taken to be evidence of the details contained within it unless the person disputing the alleged speed can give “evidence to the contrary”.  Evidence to the contrary” needs to be more than oral evidence disputing the alleged speed.  For example, if the court were to accept evidence downloaded from a GPS device which showed a fastest speed less than the speed stated in the certificate, the certificate would no longer be sufficient evidence on its own to prove the speed. 

Further advice on challenging speeding fines can be given by our solicitors who can give specific advice in relation to specific circumstances. 

Definitions

The following definitions are relative to this section and are found in reg.3 of the Road Traffic Code 2000 (WA):

Built-up area

A “built-up area” is defined as the territory immediately next to and including any road—

  • On which there is provision for street lighting at intervals of not over 100 metres for a distance of at least 500 metres or, if the road is shorter than 500 metres, for the whole road; or
  • Which is built up with structures devoted to business, industry or dwelling houses at intervals of less than 100 metres for a distance of 500 metres or more.

Carriageway

A “carriageway” is a portion of a road that is improved, designed or ordinarily used for vehicular traffic, and includes the shoulders, and areas, including embayments, at the side or centre of the carriageway, used for the stopping or parking of vehicles; and, where a road has 2 or more of those portions divided by a median strip, the expression means each of those portions, separately.

Speed zone

A “speed zone is a length of carriageway defined at its beginning by means of a “speed limit sign”, and at its end by means of:

  • A de-restriction sign or an “end speed limit” sign;
  • Another speed limit sign;
  • An “area speed limit” sign, a “school zone” sign or a “heavy vehicle speed zone” sign; or
  • A T-intersection where that carriageway ends.

Speed limit sign

A “speed limit sign” is a sign, other than an “area speed limit” sign, a “school zone” sign or a “heavy vehicle speed zone” sign, that is substantially rectangular in shape and:

  • Is displayed or erected on or near a carriageway; and
  • Consists of black numerals set within a red circle upon a white background.

 

Speed limited area

A “speed limited area” is a carriageway or length of carriageway:

  • Defined at its beginning by means of an “area speed limit” sign and at its end by means of an “end area speed limit” sign; or
  • That forms part of a network of 2 or more carriageways defined by means of—
    • “Area speed limit” signs erected near the boundary of each carriageway that provides access to the network, so that a driver can only lawfully enter the network on a carriageway by passing an “area speed limit” sign; and
    • “End area speed limit” signs erected near the boundary of each carriageway that provides an exit from the area, so that a driver can only lawfully exit the network on a carriageway by passing an “end area speed limit” sign.

Pedestrian Mall

A “pedestrian mall” is any road or portion of a road that is designated as a pedestrian mall by signs erected on or adjacent to the road.

School zone

A “school zone” is a carriageway or length of carriageway:

  • Defined at its beginning by means of a “school zone” sign and at its end by means of an “end school zone” sign; or
  • That forms part of a network of 2 or more carriageways defined by means of—
    • “school zone” signs erected near the boundary of each carriageway that provides access to the network, so that a driver can only lawfully enter the network on a carriageway by passing a “school zone” sign; and
    • “end school zone” signs erected near the boundary of each carriageway that provides an exit from the area, so that a driver can only lawfully exit the network on a carriageway by passing an “end school zone” sign.

Specific Speeding Offences

The various speeding offences are listed here.  The penalties for each are detailed in the “penalties” section.

Exceeding 50 km/h in a “built-up area”

Pursuant to reg.11(2) of the Road Traffic Code 2000 (WA) it is an offence to exceed 50 km/h in a “built-up area” except within a speed zone which permits a higher speed.

A person who is driving in a “built-up area” where there are no speed zone signs cannot exceed 50 km/h as a result of this restriction.

Exceeding speed allowed in a speed zone

Pursuant to reg.11(3) of the Road Traffic Code 2000 (WA) it is an offence to exceed the speed limit allowed in a “speed zone”.  This refers to a speed limit which is imposed by way of a “speed limit sign”.  For example, if a person is driving on a road where there are “speed limit signs” which display “70”, the person must not drive at a speed which exceeds 70 km/h.

Exceeding 10 km/h in a Shared Zone

Pursuant to reg.11(4) of the Road Traffic Code 2000 (WA) it is an offence to drive a vehicle at a speed in excess of 10 km/h in a “shared zone”.  A “shared zone” is a road where the roadway is shared by vehicles and pedestrians.  These are indicated by signs which make the area a “shared zone”.  The speed limit in a “shared zone” is 10 km/h.

Exceeding Speed Limit in a Speed Limited Area

Pursuant to reg.11(5) of the Road Traffic Code 2000 (WA) it is an offence to drive a vehicle at a speed in excess of the applicable speed limit in a “speed limited area”.  A “speed limited area” is different from a “speed zone” in that a “speed limited area” imposes a speed limit which applies to an area rather than a particular length of road.  A “speed limited area” will have speed signs which indicate that the speed limit on it applies to an area.  The area is defined by the road signs.  If a person drives past such a sign, the relevant speed limit applies on all roads within that area.

Exceeding Speed Limit in a School Zone

Pursuant to reg.11(6) of the Road Traffic Code 2000 (WA) it is an offence to drive a vehicle at a speed in excess of the applicable speed limit in a “school zone”.  It is an offence to exceed the speed limit indicated in the ”school zone” during the hours which are indicated on the sign.  These signs will stipulate certain time periods when the “school zone” speed limit applies.  Outside those stipulated hours the usual speed limit for that road or area applies.

Exceeding 10 km/h in a pedestrian mall

Pursuant to reg.11(7) of the Road Traffic Code 2000 (WA) it is an offence to drive a vehicle at a speed in excess of 10 km/h in a “pedestrian mall”.  As per the definition of “pedestrian mall” it is defined by relevant signage.  The sign may not state the speed limit; however, the limit is 10 km/h.

Driving Below Minimum Speed on a Freeway

Pursuant to reg.12 of the Road Traffic Code 2000 (WA) it is an offence to drive a vehicle at a speed which is more than 20 km/h LESS than the speed limit applicable to a “freeway”.  A “freeway” is a road which is designated as a “freeway” by signs to that effect. 

This offence is not committed where traffic congestion prevents driving at within 21 km/h of the speed limit or where it is otherwise unsafe or imprudent to drive within 21km/h of the speed limit.

The offence is designed to prevent a person from causing traffic congestion by driving in a way which would otherwise cause delays and prevent the flow of traffic on a freeway.

The penalty for this offence is $50.00.  A person will usually receive a penalty notice but would have the option of electing to have the matter heard in the Magistrates Court if they wanted to dispute it.

Exceeding 100 km/h in Heavy Vehicles and Vehicles Towing Trailers

Pursuant to reg.13 of the Road Traffic Code 2000 (WA) it is an offence to drive:

  • A vehicle which weighs more than 12 tonnes including any trailer being towed;
  • A vehicle which is towing a trailer; or
  • A bus which has a GVM of more than 5 tonnes;

at a speed in excess of 100 km/h.  This does not affect the application of speed limits on roads where the limit is designated at less than 100 km/h: on such roads the posted speed limit applies to all vehicles.

Penalties

Penalties for speeding offences are listed in the tables below and are set out in reg.17 of the Road Traffic Code 2000 (WA).  The first table relates to vehicles other than “heavy vehicles”.  The second table refers specifically to speeding offences involving “heavy vehicles”. 

Heavy Vehicle

A “heavy vehicle”, pursuant to Reg.3 of the Road Traffic Code 2000 (WA) means a vehicle which exceeds a total weight of 22.5 tonnes or more, including any trailer and load being carried.  It does not include a bus.

Holiday Period

For the purpose of these tables, “holiday period” means:

  • If a public holiday falls on a Monday; a period of 4 days commencing on the Friday prior to the public holiday (Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday);
  • If a public holiday falls on a Friday; a period of 4 days commencing from the Thursday prior to the public holiday (Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday);
  • At Easter; a period of 5 days commencing on the Thursday before Good Friday (Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday); and
  • At Christmas; a period of 17 days commencing on the Friday prior to Christmas Day.

Vehicle Other Than a “Heavy Vehicle

Exceeding the Speed Limit By:Demerit PointsFine
9 km/h or lessNot applicable$100.00
More than 9 km/h but not more than 19 km/h  
During a holiday period4$200.00
Other than during a holiday period2$200.00
More than 19 km/h but not more than 29 km/h  
During a holiday period6$400.00
Other than during a holiday period3$400.00
More than 29 km/h but not more than 40 km/h  
During a holiday period12$800.00
Other than during a holiday period6$800.00
More than 40 km/h  
During a holiday period14$1,200.00
Other than during a holiday period7$1,200.00

“Heavy Vehicle”

Exceeding the Speed Limit By:Demerit PointsFine
9 km/h or lessNot applicable$200.00
More than 9 km/h but not more than 19 km/h  
During a holiday period4$300.00
Other than during a holiday period2$300.00
More than 19 km/h but not more than 29 km/h  
During a holiday period6$500.00
Other than during a holiday period3$500.00
More than 29 km/h but not more than 40 km/h  
During a holiday period12$1,200.00
Other than during a holiday period6$1,200.00
More than 40 km/h  
During a holiday period14$1,500.00
Other than during a holiday period7$1,500.00

Defences to Speeding

Speeding as classified as a “strict liability” offence.  This means that the police do not need to prove an intent by a driver to exceed the speed limit.  Most criminal offences require the police to prove both that a person did a criminal act and that they had an intention to do that criminal act.  With a “strict liability” offence, such as speeding, police only need to prove that the driver exceeded the speed limit.

Being a “strict liability” offence, there are limited defences available to a person charged with speeding.  The defence of “necessity” may be available but is very hard to establish.  To rely on this defence, a person would need to satisfy the court that the reason for speeding was to avoid death or serious injury to themselves or someone else.  If a person was able to satisfy the court of this, the prosecution would then be required to disprove that “necessity”.  This defence can be available on the basis of medical “necessity” also; however, it would be necessary to provide compelling medical evidence to support the defence.  It would also be necessary to satisfy the court that it was necessary to drive at the alleged speed rather than, for example, call an ambulance or drive within the speed limit.

Evasive Action in Relation to a Speed Camera

Pursuant to reg.18A of the Road Traffic Code 2000 (WA), it is an offence to:

  • Drive a vehicle that is fitted with a device that would prevent the operation of speed detecting equipment; or
  • Drive in a manner which would adversely affect the operation of speed detecting equipment.

This offence is designed to prevent the use of devices that render speed detection equipment (such as speed cameras) from being able to operate correctly.  Such devices are commonly known as “laser jammers” or “electronic scramblers”.

Driving in a manner which would adversely affect the operation of speed detecting equipment includes such things as:

  • Driving closely behind a vehicle in front; and
  • Crossing to the incorrect side of the road.

If a person commits an offence in order to drive in such a manner, they may be penalised for that specific offence in addition to the offence of “driving in a manner which adversely affects the operation of speed detecting equipment”.  For example, a person who drives so closely to the vehicle in front to prevent the speed detecting equipment from detecting their speed could be found guilty of “failing to keep a safe distance behind vehicles” as well as this offence.

This regulation does not include having a device in a vehicle which merely alerts the driver to the presence of speed detection equipment in the vicinity, such as radar detectors.

The penalty for this offence is:

  • A fine of $1,200.00 if the offence is committed in a vehicle other than a “heavy vehicle”; or
  • A fine of $1,500.00 if the offence is committed in a “heavy vehicle”.

In addition to the above fines, demerit points are also accrued by the person driving:

  • During “holiday periods”, 14 demerit points; and
  • During areas that are not “holiday periods”, 7 demerit points.

It is important to note that if a person is detected using such a device during a “holiday period”, they will be subjected to a suspension period in relation to their driver’s licence as such a suspension is triggered by the accrual of 12 demerit points.

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