Speed Trials

– section 68(1) of the Road Safety Act 1986
Car Moving Speedily
This charge is generally laid in situations where a person drives or is in charge of a motor vehicle on a highway for the purpose of a speed trial or race.
Examples of Speed Trials
  • You and your friend are driving in separate cars along a highway. You think it would be fun if you raced each other, so you both slam down the brakes and race along the highway.
Questions in cases like this
  • Were you driving or in charge of motor vehicle?
  • Were you driving on a highway?
  • Were you driving for the purpose of a speed trial or race?
What are some of the possible defences to Speed Trials?

A defence to this charge could include a factual dispute or that the event/function had approved authorisation by the Minister by Government Gazette.

You should ring us and discuss your case if you have been charged. Deciding on whether to plead guilty or not has important implications for you and should be made after proper discussions with a criminal lawyer.

Maximum penalty and court that deals with this charge

The maximum penalty for this charge is 8 penalty units for a first offence and 15 penalty units for a subsequent offence for anyone found guilty of this offence. Speed trials are the sort of charge regularly heard in the Magistrates’ Court.

What is the legal definition of Speed Trials?

A person who on a highway drives or is in charge of a motor vehicle which is being used in a race or speed trial is guilty of an offence.

Legislation

The legislation for this offence can be found on section 68(1) of Road Safety Act 1986.

Elements of the offence

To prove this charge, the prosecution must prove the following beyond reasonable doubt:

  1. The accused drove or was in charge of a motor vehicle…
  2. On a highway…
  3. For the purpose of a race or speed trial

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Were you driving or in charge of a motor vehicle?
A person does not need to be driving the vehicle to be found guilty of this offence. It will be enough if they are ‘in charge’ of the motor vehicle.

Without limiting the circumstances in which a person is in charge of a motor vehicle, the following persons are to be taken to be in charge of a motor vehicle for the purposes of this Act

  1. a person who is attempting to start or drive the motor vehicle;
  2. a person with respect to whom there are reasonable grounds for the belief that he or she intends to start or drive the motor vehicle;
  • (ba) a person who is a vehicle supervisor of an automated vehicle for which an ADS permit is in force and which is operating in automated mode at any time while the person is assigned by the ADS permit holder to perform duties as a vehicle supervisor in relation to the vehicle;
  1. a commercial driving instructor while the person whom he or she is teaching to drive is driving or in charge of the vehicle;
  2. an accompanying licensed driver while the person whom he or she is sitting beside is driving or in charge of the vehicle.1

Were you on a highway?
‘Highway’ means road or road related area.

‘Road’ means an area that is open to or used by the public and is developed for, or has as one of its main uses, the driving or riding of motor vehicles.

‘Road related area’ means

  1. an area that divides a road; or
  2. a footpath or nature strip adjacent to a road; or
  3. an area that is open to the public and is designated for use by cyclists or animals; or
  4. an area that is not a road and that is open to or used by the public for driving, riding or parking motor vehicles.2

Were you driving for the purpose of a race or speed trial?
‘Speed trial’ means an organised motor vehicle event, or any part of such an event, that is a competitive test of speed an object of which is, or requires for its attainment, the travelling over a distance in the shortest possible time, but does not include an event, or any part of an event, in which it is a condition of participation that participants comply with all applicable road laws.3

“Can they prove you were driving on a highway for the purpose of racing?”
Sentencing in the Magistrates’ Courts

Magistrates' CourtThere were 71 cases (71 charges) of Drives or Is in Charge of a Motor Vehicle in a Race – section 68(1) that were heard in the Victorian Magistrates’ Courts from 1 July 2013 to 30 June 2016. Most of these cases resulted in fines (83.1%) but there were also other penalties imposed: Community Correction Order (11.3%), adjourned undertaking/discharge/dismissal (2.8%), partially suspended sentence (1.4%), and wholly suspended sentence (1.4%).4

Please note that suspended sentences were abolished in Victoria for all offences committed on or after 1 September 2014.5

Other important resources

 



[1] Section 3AA of the Road Safety Act 1986
[2] Section 3 of the Road Safety Act 1986
[3] Section 58 of the Road Safety Act 1986
[4] SAC Statistics – Road Safety Act 1986 (Vic) : s 68(1) – drives or is in charge of a motor vehicle in a race < https://www.sentencingcouncil.vic.gov.au/sacstat/magistrates_court/86_127_68_1.html >
[5] Suspended Sentence | The Sentencing Advisory Council < https://www.sentencingcouncil.vic.gov.au/about-sentencing/sentencing-options-for-adults/suspended-sentence >