General Duty of Driver or Person in Charge of Motor Vehicle

– section 59 of the General Duty of Driver or Person in Charge of Motor Vehicle

Drivers of motor vehicles have general duties like stopping the vehicle, or producing their licence when asked to by the Police, or having the load of the vehicle weighed when required. It is an offence for a driver of a motor vehicle not to do these things (and others listed in the legislation).

Examples of General Duty of Driver or Person in Charge of Motor Vehicle
  • A woman is pulled over by a Police Officer and asked to show her licence, she refuses to do so.
  • A man is driving a truck and refuses to have the load weighed when required to do so by the Police.
What are some of the possible defences to a charge of General Duty of Driver or Person in Charge of Motor Vehicle?
  • You have a reasonable excuse for the failure.
  • You did not have your licence at the time but provided it to the Police within 7 days.
  • The Police officer was not in uniform and you did not believe they were the Police.

There are other possible defences, depending on the circumstances surrounding the alleged offending. Each matter is unique and requires an individual approach and strategy.

Questions in cases like this
  • What did the Police ask you to do?
  • What did you refuse to do?
  • Is there a good reason as to why you refused?

Maximum penalty and Court that deals with this charge

The maximum penalty for this offence is a fine of 20 penalty units or a term of imprisonment for 4 months.

Charges that arise from the General Duty of Driver or Person in Charge of Motor Vehicle would be heard in the Magistrates’ Court.

“When driving what did you refuse to do?
What is the legal definition of General Duty of Driver or Person in Charge of Motor Vehicle?

This offence is applies to a person driving a motor vehicle, when a person fails to comply with a lawful request or direction to do one of the following: produce their licence upon request; produce log books for inspection; stop the motor vehicle; or permit motor vehicle to be weighed. Or a person provides a false name to the Police.

Legislation

The section that covers this offence is section 59 of the Road Safety Act 1986.1

What can you be sentenced to for this charge?

If you are found guilty of this offence you are most likely going to incur a fine or a Community Corrections Order.

Case Studies

 


[1] Road Safety Act 1986 – Section 59

(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 learner permit document and state his or her name and address if requested or signalled to do so by—
(i) a police officer or an officer of the Corporation or of the Department (being an officer of the Corporation or of the Department authorised in writing by the Corporation or the Secretary, 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 police officer under subsection (5); and
(c) if requested or signalled to do so by a police officer or an officer of the Corporation (being an officer of the Corporation 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 police officer or an officer of the Corporation (being an officer of the Corporation 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 learner 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 police officer or a protective services officer or failing to produce for inspection his or her driver licence document or learner 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 is driving or in charge of a motor cycle during the period of 3 years from the issue of a driver licence which authorises him or her to drive a motor cycle
(or if that licence is suspended, whether by a court or the Corporation, during that 3 year period, during an additional period equal to the period of the suspension) or who has been issued with a driver licence or learner permit under an order of the Magistrates’ Court made on an application for a licence eligibility order or by the Corporation under section 31KA, who fails to produce for inspection his or her driver licence document or learner 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 learner permit document at the police station (if any) specified by the police officer 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 police officer, a protective services officer or an authorised officer of the Corporation or of the Department, as the case requires; or
(ii) an officer of or person authorised in writing in that behalf by a municipal council.
(5) A police officer may give such reasonable directions to a person driving or in charge of a motor vehicle on a highway as are, in the opinion of that police officer, 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 police officer or an officer of the Corporation (being an officer of the Corporation 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 police officer.
(9) A reference in this section to a driver licence document or learner 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.