Should You Always Pay Your Traffic Fine?
In South Australia it only takes 12 demerits for you to lose your full licence (less if you are on a learners or provisional licence), and when you can earn yourself 2 demerit points by travelling up to 10kms over the speed limit, you could easily find yourself without a licence after a long weekend away if you’ve clocked up a few K’s.
Although speed cameras are scarily accurate, there is generally considered to be a tolerance level of 4km’s over the limit before they report a speeding offence. However, if you have been issued a demerit notice, or worse, a notice that your licence is being suspended, your first point should be to contact the best traffic lawyers in Adelaide in order to get an opinion on what you should do. Whatever you do, do NOT pay a fine before speaking to a lawyer who is familiar with, or specialises in, South Australian traffic law.
Shouldn’t I Pay The Fine Immediately?
No! The reason you should speak to a traffic lawyer first is that you have a limited window of opportunity to contest the expiation notice. You can request that the alleged offence be reviewed if you meet a range of circumstances. One of the more common instances where people will often wish to get a review is with a speed camera fine and/or demerit points, particularly in a shared vehicle.
You are entitled to request a review if you feel that the notice is in anyway unfair. This may be because it wasn’t you driving, you know you weren’t speeding (although this one is significantly harder to prove), or perhaps you were driving, you were speeding, but you were racing to get a dangerously ill person to hospital. https://www.police.sa.gov.au/services-and-events/expiations/request-a-review
However, once you have paid the fine, or if you just ignore the notice and it is sent to enforcement, then there is nothing that anyone can do to help you.
What Is An Expiation Notice?
Expiate means “compensate” or “atone”, so an Expiation Notice is simple the legal term for the notice you receive that tells you want driving office the SA Police believe you have committed, and what the amount of the fine you need to pay is.
If you choose to pay this immediately you will also have to accept any demerits or other consequences, such as suspension of your license, that will be applicable. This also applies if you arrange a payment plan to pay the amount off in installments.
Court Appearance for Traffic Offenses
If you have been charged with a traffic offense such as reckless driving, or driving while over the legally allowed blood alcohol limit for your license type (see here), then you should contact your lawyer as soon as able, and do not admit to anything until your lawyer is able to advise you.
Few people understand the full ramifications of what happens when they accept a penalty imposed on them for a driving offense. It is a very stressful situation, and you do need someone to act as an advocate on your behalf.
Demerit points stay on your license for three years in the state of SA. So, if you are caught going 8km over the speed limit two times every year, you may very well find yourself facing a suspension of your license. Not only does this mean you will need to pay the fine, and undergo any driver education required, but for many people this will mean a loss of income.
Speaking to your lawyer may mean that you are able to continue to hold your license, or at least legally drive within context of work, or school run.
It’s not Worth the Money to Challenge a $50 Fine
Of course, this is really a matter of perspective, but most legal firms will offer a free legal consultation that you would be wise to at least consider. Although you may only think of it as a small on the spot fine that is well within your means to pay, you may also want to consider that this is now a black mark against your driving record. Depending on what the offense is, this may not only impact on your ability to drive but may also affect your insurance premiums or even your ability to get car insurance. Getting a legal opinion is generally worth the effort.