Driving fines and penalties explained

23 August 2016
 by 
, CarsGuide

How much are speeding fines? How many demerit points do you earn for what offence? We’ve answered the big questions for your state or territory.

Think of it as a kind of reverse lottery. You don’t want to enter, and if your number comes up - as increasingly it is likely to with our heavily policed and camera-infested roads - it costs you money. Worse yet, there’s more than one way to win, or lose, because it’s not just speeding fines and parking fines that can land you in financial strife, because there are plenty of other driving fines too.

You know most of them, of course, although it sometimes feels like the police officer who nabs you is spinning some kind of Devil’s Chocolate Wheel to decide how big your fine will be. The no seatbelt fine, for example, is one we all understand and even agree with, and it will set you back $325 (and three demerits) in NSW, but did you realise it jumps to $1372 if you have four or more unrestrained passengers (and six demerits)?

And did you realise that fat-arming (leaving your arm hanging out the window) will cost you $325 (three points), or that getting out of your car and leaving the engine on is a $108 fine, or that you can cop $180 (and two points) and a traffic control ticket for “not maintaining left change of direction signal in roundabout” (all NSW)?

There are plenty more, some of them so strangely worded that they would give a lawyer a headache, and we can’t list them all here, so we’d suggest you bone up on them via the appropriate websites for your State.

What follows, for your bemusement and education, is a list of some common fines and what they cost in each State.

We’ve also listed the various fines for speeding in each jurisdiction, and it’s fair to say the differences are stark.

When you consider that the most commonly issued traffic fine - and thus the biggest earner - across the country is exceeding the speed limit by 10km/h or less, you’re best placed to be caught for such a thing in either Western Australia - $100 and no demerit points - or Tasmania - a measly $80, but two points.

South Australia actually has the most “unfair” level of speed enforcement.

Despite what you might think you know about Victoria being the police state, and the natural home of that metallic beast; the speed camera, a recent study by the Australia Institute found that South Australia actually has the most “unfair” level of speed enforcement, with the highest penalties.

The study found that the value of fines issued per registered vehicle was $128, the most brutal in the country.

SA also issued the country’s highest average traffic fines in 2014-15, at $410.

Revenue for the period added up to $174 million, or $103 for every person in South Australia.

Read on, and if you’re from SA, weep.

NSW

One offence we’d like to see handed out more often:

  • Increase speed while being overtaken $325 (three points)

Common offences:

  • Not stop at red light (aka a red light camera fine in NSW) - $433 (three demerit points). Interestingly it’s the same amount for not stopping at a yellow light.
  • Not indicate when changing lanes (or not indicate sufficiently early enough; as measured by a policeman’s discretion) - $180 (two points)
  • Stop sign fine (not coming to a complete stop/not stopping on the line) - $325 (three points)
  • Overtake vehicle when unsafe - $325 (two points)

Most expensive offences:

  • $433 is the top-whack for driving fines in NSW and covers a multitude of offences.
  • That amount applies to absolutely any offence near a school or pedestrian crossing, from approaching too quickly to failing to stop to overtaking near one (all three points).

One weird/confusing one:

  • Proceed after light change while stopped - $433 (three points). What does it mean? Who can say?

Speeding fines NSW

  • Up to 10km/h over the limit - $114 (one point)
  • From 10-20km/h over - $265 (three points)
  • From 20-30km/h over - $455 (four points)
  • From 30-45km/h over - $872 (five points)
  • More than 45km/h over - $2350 (six points)

Victoria

One we'd like to see handed out more often:

  • Overtake vehicle on left - $233 (two points)

Common offences:

  • Fail to give way at intersection - $272 (three points)
  • Improperly pass or change lanes without giving way - $233 (two points)
  • Use handheld mobile phone while driving - $466 (four points)
  • Fail to wear seatbelt - $311 (three points)

Most expensive offences:

  • Fail to stop or give way at a level crossing and you're up for $777 (and four points), if you're not squashed flat.

One weird/confusing one:

  • Leading an animal while driving a vehicle - $155 (no points, strangely)

Speeding fines Victoria

  • Up to 10km/h over the limit - $194 (one point)
  • From 10-24km/h over - $311 (three points)
  • From 25-29km/h over - $428 (four points)
  • From 30-34km/h over $505 (four points)
  • From 35-39km/h over $583 (six points)
  • From 40-44km/h over $661 (six points)
  • More than 45km/h over - $777 (eight points, and public execution)

Queensland

One we’d like to see handed out more often:

  • Driving in the right lane on a multi-lane road with a signposted speed limit more than 80 km/h (without an excuse) - $73 (two points). Only $73? Really? Failing to obey the “Keep left unless overtaking” signs in NSW is $325 (and two points).

Common offences:

  • Failing to give way when entering or driving in a roundabout - $365 (three points)
  • Failing to give way to a bus leaving a bus-stop - $219 (three points)
  • Proceeding before a pedestrian has left a children’s crossing - $365 (three points)
  • Use mobile phone while driving - $365 (three points)

Most expensive offences:

  • Driver causes damage to infrastructure at railway crossing - $975 (four points)

One weird/confusing one:

  • Depositing or dropping injurious matter on a road - $487 (two points)

Speeding fines QLD

  • Up to 13km/h over the limit - $162 (one point)
  • From 13-20km/h over - $243 (three points)
  • From 20-30km/h over - $406 (four points)
  • From 30-40km/h over - $568 (six points)
  • More than 40km/h over - $1137 (eight points)

Western Australia

One we’d like to see handed out more often:

  • Disobeying a hand signal or direction of a Police Officer, a firefighter, an ambulance officer or other authorised person - $100 (three points)

Common offences:

  • Failing to stop at red light - $300 (three points)
  • Failing to give way to vehicles on a roundabout - $150 (three points)
  • Doing a burnout (producing smoke) - $100 (three points)
  • Use mobile phone while driving - $400 (three points)

Most expensive offences:

  • Driver not wearing a seatbelt with four or more unrestrained passengers $900 - (four points)

One weird/confusing one:

  • Passengers riding in the back of utes (passengers) - $550
  • Passengers riding in the back of utes (driver) - $500 (and four points. If the driver is riding in the back while driving, we reckon he’s getting off lightly.)

Speeding fines enforcement WA

  • Up to 9km/h over the limit - $100 (zero points)
  • From 9-19km/h over - $200 (three points)
  • From 19-29km/h over - $400 (three points)
  • From 29-40km/h over - $800 (six points)
  • More than 40km/h over - $1000 (seven points)

Tasmania

One we’d like to see handed out more often:

  • Drive without due care and attention - $140 (three points). This one sounds wise, of course, but it does slightly open up the possibility of a traffic policeman being able to define anything you do as a bookable offence.

Common offences:

  • Disobey No Stopping sign - $100 No Stopping Fine (three points)
  • No seat belt - $300 No seat belt fine (three points)
  • Driving an unregistered motor vehicle - $200 (no points)
  • Fail to stop at yellow light - $100 (three points) - a red light will cost you $40 more.

Most expensive offences:

  • Exceed applicable speed limit by 45km/h - $900 (six points)

One weird/confusing one:

  • Registered operator fail to ensure motor vehicle number plate is clean, clear, untinted etc that would prevent photo by photographic detection device - $140 (no points)

Speeding fines Tasmania (warning, interstate readers, these figures may shock you)

  • Up to 10km/h over the limit - $80 (two points)
  • From 10-14km/h over - $110 (two points)
  • From 15-22km/h over - $150 (three points)
  • From 23-29km/h over - $250 (three points)
  • From 30-37km/h over - $450 (five points)
  • From 38-44km/h over - $650 (six points)
  • More than 45km/h over - $900 (six points)

South Australia

One we’d like to see handed out more often:

  • Tailgating - failure to keep safe distance behind other vehicles - $320 (one point)

Common offences:

  • Use mobile phone while driving - $320 (three points)
  • No seatbelt - $347 (three points)
  • Failure to indicate before turning - $303 (two points)
  • Fail to stop at red light - $44 (three points)

Most expensive offences (other than speeding, which tops the list):

  • Driving with prescribed drug in oral fluid or blood (Methylamphetamine, THC or MDMA) - $587 (four points)

One weird/confusing one:

  • Driving vehicle without having proper control of the vehicle - $176 (no points)

Speeding fines South Australia

  • Up to 10km/h over the limit - $166 (two points)
  • From 10-20km/h over - $363 (three points)
  • From 20-30km/h over - $738 (five points)
  • From 30-45km/h over - $881 (seven points)
  • More than 45km/h over - $992 (nine points) - police may also clamp, or impound your vehicle on the spot for this offence.

Do you find some fines confusing or unfair? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

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