Heavy Vehicle Traffic Offences & The Law
A nationalised form of heavy vehicle legislation came into effect in NSW in 2014 under the Heavy Vehicle National Law 2013 (HVNL) under the oversight of the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator. It is a wide-reaching and encompassing form of legislation that applies restrictions and regulations not only to truck and heavy vehicle drivers, but also to other members within the supply chain of the Transport Industry.
What are some Heavy Vehicles?
A heavy motor vehicle can be one which has a Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM) or Gross Combination Mass (GCM) which exceeds 13.9 tonnes
A public bus or a public taxi
An interstate coach
Overloading - Breaching Mass and Loading Limits
Under the HVNL, there are limits on the dimensions and weight of a heavy vehicle, and also the size of the load that it is designed to carry. A breach of any mass limit poses serious risks on public roads, and as a result they carry fines of up to $15,000.
Is there any Defence to an Overloading Charge?
A driver who has been charged with an offence of overloading his or her truck can potentially defend this charge if he or she can prove that they had no former knowledge or insight into the state of their truck to realise that it was overloaded. They must also show that they took steps to stop the overload, or in fact were in such a position that they would not have been able to take steps to prevent that overload.
Blood Alcohol Concentration Limits for Truck Drivers
Heavy vehicle drivers are required to have a lower Blood Alcohol Concentration limit than driver with regular unrestricted normal driver’s licences. This is a limit of 0.02.
Making Heavy Vehicle Drivers Exceed Speed Limit
Within the Transport industry, it is illegal to request of the driver of a heavy vehicle to exceed the speed limit. It is also an offence for a person to initiate any form of activity that may in turn result in the driver of a heavy vehicle to exceed the speed limit. This includes:
Personnel who consign the goods
Loading dock manager
Dispatch managers who fix the routes and time schedules of drivers
Driver Fatigue Laws & Fatigue-Regulated vehicles
Any motor vehicle with a Gross Vehicle Mass or more than 8 tonnes, and carrying 3 or more axles, will be subject to the Driver Fatigue laws.
These laws make it illegal to drive a Fatigue Regulated heavy vehicle while being affected by fatigue, and they can apply to more personnel in the transport company than just the Driver.
These offences carry significant penalties such as demerit points and fines.
Rest and Work Hour Offences
There are 4 risk categories (Critical, Major, Substantial and Minor) associated with these types of offences and are calculated on how many minutes the person has been working outside their work hours which are allowed.
Critical and Major Risk breaches both carry demerit points, while Minor and Substantial risk breaches carry fines.
The legislation under HVNL requires log books and driving schedule work and rest break records for Fatigue Related vehicles. Such records must be kept for a period of 3 years and made available for inspection.
Is there a Defence to Rest and Work Hour Offences?
A person must show that as a driver they were complying with the laws that were regulating the number of hours they were allowed to drive and the number of hours they were allowed to rest, and further that they were not affected by fatigued, and had been taking enough breaks and had taken all the reasonable steps to ensure that their manner of driving was not affected.
Breaching Heavy Vehicle National Law 2013 - "What am I looking at?"
There are numerous forms of penalties for various types of Heavy Vehicle offences under the Heavy Vehicle National Law 2013 and they can range from:
Warnings – usually given as an initial penalty, where the person was not aware that a law had been breached but had taken all steps to prevent a breach from occurring. However, these warnings cannot be given for Overloading breaches where the risk is deemed to be severe.
Monetary Fines and Loss of demerit Points
Court proceedings where on conviction, penalties can vary greatly from fines, to vehicle registration cancellation, prohibition and compensation orders, and new supervision measure requirements for the business.
Lawyer Call – here to help..
If you have been charged with a Heavy Vehicle Traffic Offence, contact one of our offices on 1300 LAW 111, to discuss your matter with one of our expert Traffic lawyers. The intricacies of the rules governing the newly introduced legislation will be carefully explained, and together we will manage your matter with appropriate and honest legal advice regarding the prospects of defending these types of charges.
Alternatively, our solicitors will also conference you in regarding whether a plea of guilty is more appropriate in the circumstances.
With extensive background and preparation in plea making, our lawyers will gather and assess any potential specific medical and supporting documentation to assist your case and make relevant sentencing submissions addressing the early plea of guilty, the circumstances of the offence, as well as any subjective factors that will present an overall picture to achieve the best possible outcome before a Magistrate and address every possible avenue of mitigating the seriousness of the offence.