Traffic fines and penalties help make our roads safer. On one hand they deter drivers from breaking road rules, but most importantly they can get dangerous drivers who commit serious or repeat offences off the road.
The most severe penalties are for careless, reckless or dangerous driving that kills or injures someone. Penalties can include a maximum fine of $20,000, imprisonment for five years, and disqualification of your driver licence. For lesser driving offences, fines are the most common penalty.
Demerit points are given for some traffic offences and for speeding infringements. If you accumulate 100 or more demerit points in a two-year period, your licence is suspended.
Other penalties available to the Police include roadside suspension of your licence, vehicle impoundment and even arrest.
Fines and demerit points need to work together
It's debatable whether fines alone are successful in changing driver behaviour.
Some motorists receive fines they can't afford, and don't intend to pay, so receiving yet another fine has no impact. When these cases eventually reach court, judges often wipe thousands of dollars of fines from infringers' bills accepting they will never be paid.
AA speaking up for motorists
For some drivers the threat of losing their licence is a greater deterrent than being fined. Therefore the AA supports the use of demerit points for a wider range of infringements, and increasing demerits for the most serious offences.
For some offences, police can either issue a large fine, or a smaller fine plus demerit points.
Some of the current penalties need to be revised to better reflect the seriousness of the infringement in relation to other offences. For example, the penalty for running a red light ($150 fine) is too low considering the high potential danger caused by the offence.
What AA Members are saying
A 2014 survey shows most AA Members support penalties being a mix of fines and demerits for offences like speeding.
For speeding offences between 11-20km/h over the limit, over half of AA Members think the current level of fines and demerits are ‘about right’, but for speeds more than 30km/h above the limit, over a third of AA Members think the fines and demerits are ‘too low’.