Common driving offences

These common driving offences can affect the lives of fellow road users, yourself and may also negatively impact on your chances of getting car insurance.

These four common road violations could land you with weighty fines, enforced education program attendance, jail time and more expensive car insurance premiums.

Failing to stop after an accident

You are bound by law to stop immediately in a safe place after an accident you're involved in. You have a responsibility to give assistance to others caught up in the crash, if there are injuries or fatalities, you'll need to dial 000.

The road user's handbook also states you should, where safe to do so, remove potentially harmful debris or components from the road.

It is also a requirement for you to supply your details such as your name, address and licence information, as well as the registration number of your vehicle.

You commit an offence if you're involved in an impact or collision that leads to the death or injury of another person and you fail to stop to give assistance within your abilities. In NSW, this offence can carry 30 penalty units (or jail for 18 months, or even both), with the punishment increasing on a subsequent offence. A penalty unit in NSW is $110. In ACT, if you don't stop, you risk spending two years in jail or having a $30,000 penalty to settle.

Failure to obey instructions, answer questions or provide a licence to Police

You are required to give the police attending an incident, or where they are acting within their powers, information when it's asked for. Details they may seek include:

  • Your account of the crash
  • The vehicles involved
  • Your full name and home address
  • Any additional info you know about witnesses or the drivers of vehicles involved

If a Police officer asks to see your licence, you also have to show them it.

In South Australia, if you ignore a police officer's command to stop, you could face a $5,000 penalty. Providing false information to an officer also carries the same fine. Failing to hand over your licence (or within the specified time frame at a police station) can result in a fine of $1,250. In the nation's capital, ignoring a police signal or order to stop could cost you $3,000 as the penalty units there equate to $150 and you'll be given 20.

Speeding

Breaking the speed limit nets you demerits, penalties and even licence suspension. The severity of your speeding will dictate the sanction given to you.

Breaking the posted limit by over 30 and 45 km/h will bag you a minimum of five points, a three-month licence suspension and a "large fine" in NSW. If you're clocked more than 45km/h over the limit, you receive a minimum of six demerit points, an even costlier fine and a six-month licence revocation. In South Australia, expect to pay $1,000-$1,500 for your first speeding transgression.

Drink or drug drivingIt is an offence to be in charge of a vehicle while over the legal blood alcohol content limit, or to be under the influence of illegal drugs, or prescription/over the counter medications that render you unfit to drive.The Police have the power and ability to carry out roadside drug and alcohol testing. This offence is taken very seriously and the penalties handed out can include imprisonment, losing your driver's licence and weighty fines.In NSW, a first-time offence, even in the lower-percentile, for alcohol present in blood can see you immediately lose your licence for three months. You'll also get a fine of $561.

If you blow what is deemed a mid-level reading, you'll be entered into a mandatory scheme where you'll have an electronic breath testing device hooked up to your ignition for 12 months. Your car will not start if the interlock identifies alcohol in your blood.Drug driving is also illegal. Tests can be conducted from buses or from marked and unmarked police vehicles, including motorcycles. You'll be tested for Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a main component of cannabis as well as other illegal substances such as methamphetamines or MDMA (ecstasy).Because, like alcohol, drugs impact your alertness, clear vision, reaction time and decision making they affect your ability to drive safely. Regulations nationwide prohibit driving after taking drugs. For example, in Victoria, if you fail a roadside drug test you'll receive:

  • Three penalty units
  • Have your licence suspended for six months
  • Have to enrol in and complete a Drug Driver education program

If you have to go to court, the penalty units increase to twelve, your licence will be cancelled for six months and you must have no alcohol in your blood when driving for three years. You could also receive a criminal conviction. If this is the second time, the punishment is increased, including a court sitting, a maximum of 60 penalty points and a more intensive behaviour change education course.

Car insurance and a restricted license

If you have special conditions attached to your licence, like when you return from a suspension, read this guide to see how car insurers view conditional licences.

If you think you're clever and decide to refuse to take a drugs or alcohol test when a police officer instructs you to do so, you'll also receive penalty units, have your licence voided and be required to take part in a substance behaviour change awareness program.You should also be aware that driving when using certain pharmaceutical and prescribed medications can impair your ability to handle a vehicle safely. Medications given for anxiety, epilepsy, sleep problems, depression, schizophrenia, allergies, flu, coughs and colds, hay fever and pain relief can cause drowsiness, blurred vision, confusion, mood changes and impaired reaction times. Ask your doctor if it is safe to drive and read the labels.

Picture: GettyImages

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