Even the best of us are occasionally guilty of a driving indiscretion (or several…), but while that sinking, stomach-clenching feeling of knowing you’re about to be booked for an offence is identical nationwide, how much you’ll be paying for said transgression most certainly is not.
In fact, if you’re road tripping across state lines, which side of the border you’re caught on could have a significant impact on exactly how much you’ll be paying. Because whether you're being handed a ticked by a police officer, or opening a fine that’s followed you home like an unwanted - and very expensive - stray dog, the amount of money you’ll be asked to hand over depends on which state or territory you were sprung in.
And that’s because most traffic fines are imposed by the state and not by the federal government, which is the same reason the number of demerit points applied with each offence varies. Which means an offence that might cost you $100 in Sydney, could cost double or triple that somewhere else.
And that’s just the small-fry stuff. The worse the offence, the more discrepancy in the fine amount.
We have already listed the most common offences and fines here, but in the interest of preserving your bank balance, we thought we’d take a quick tour of Australia, highlighting some of the most expensive speeding fines on offer.
These are the big-ticket items, and we sincerely hope none of you are committing these serious offences. Because apart from the obvious safety risks, the dollar figures are very, very high.
New South Wales
Speeding is bad, of course, but getting pinged exceeding the limit by some margin is very bad indeed.
In NSW, travelling at 10, 20 or 30km/h over the limit is bad enough (the fines are $265 $455 and $872), and will leave a sizeable hole in your wallet. But it’s nothing compared to being sprung at 45km/h over the limit, which will earn you a whopping $2350 fine, and shred half your licence.
It’s worse news if you’re behind the wheel of a Class C vehicle, where the fine will jump to $3562.
But at least those offences require willful breaking of the law, rather than simple absent-mindedness. For example, accidentally letting your registration lapse, and getting pinged unregistered will incur two brutal on-the-spot fines - $607 (for being unregistered), and $530 (for being uninsured). Want to fight it? Be warned: the court can increase both penalties to $2200 and $5500.
In South Australia, expensive fines rain down on drivers like terrible confetti, and while there’s nothing to rival the whopping fines of NSW, they do add up fast.
How much is a speeding fine? If you're caught going 21km/h over the limit, that’s $754 (compared to $455 in NSW). Tailgating? That’ll be $327. Drop something from your car window? You're looking at $210 and up.
In Victoria, the littering fines change again, with members of the public encouraged to report anyone dropping something out the car window. And the fines are harsh: $317 for litter, $634 if it’s a lit cigarette or similar.
Speeding fines, surprisingly, are a little lower than in some other parts of the country (presumably they’re going for a quantity not quality approach) and will set you back between $198 (less than 10km/h over) and $793 (more than 45km/h over), but the latter will also earn you an automatic 12 month licence suspension.
Pinged driving unregistered? Prepare to cough up $793.
Speeding in the sunshine state is a risky business, with travelling 40km/h over the limit likely to incur a fine of $1177 and a six-month disqualification.
Getting sprung using you mobile phone will set you back $378, too, and driving an unregistered vehicle will pluck $800 from you bank account - and it’s easily done. The Queensland government issued an extra 10,000 fines for that very offence when registration stickers were scrapped.
With its arrow-straight and endless highways, plus the constant risk of fatigue, drivers in outback Western Australia have been known to let their speed wander above the signed limit from time to time.
But a heavy right foot means heavy penalties, with speeding fines stretching from $100 for travelling “less than 9km/h” over the limit to 10 times that amount for going 40km/h over, with the maximum light-vehicle speeding fine topping out at $1000.
The heaviest fine though is rightfully reserved for serious drink-driving offences, with those infringements topping out at a whopping $3500.
As of March 2016, drivers who scored the unlicensed/unregistered daily double were liable for an on-the-spot fine of up to $1500.
You’ll want to keep an eye on your passengers too, with an adult not wearing a seatbelt earning the driver a $500 infringement.
The Northern Territory’s biggest speeding ticket is $1000 for travelling at more than 45km/h over the sign-posted limit.
Just sighting Tasmania’s story-book tarmac seems to make some drivers forget there are any road rules at all, but speeding fines do exist, and they ain’t cheap.
Minor offences will set you back $80, but that number rockets to $900 for the most serious infringement, exceeding the speed limit by 45km/h or more (40km/h if there's a school bus on the road, too).
Speeding fines in our nation’s capital can be hefty, even for relatively minor offences - get pinged travelling less than 15km/h over the limit, for example, will set you back $257.
Caught travelling more than 45km/h over? That’s a whopping $1831. Driving an unregistered car will set you back $650, too.