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Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Legislation Watch: Road Safety Amendment (Operator Onus) Bill 2012

This legislation is about to pass the Assembly, and will take effect once it's proclaimed. It has a forced commencement date of 1 July 2014.

The Statement of Compatibility is here, the Explanatory Memorandum is here, and the Second Reading is here.

Clause 4 will insert a new s 84BA into the Road Safety Act 1986, which will read,

84BA Purpose of this Part

(1) The purpose of this Part is to establish an "operator onus" system for certain offences involving motor vehicles or trailers.

(2) The "operator onus" system applies to offences where the identity of the person driving, or in charge of, the motor vehicle or trailer is not established at the time the offence is committed.

(3) The system is based on the principle that, in the circumstances referred to in subsection (2), the person who was the operator of the motor vehicle or trailer at the time of the offence should be held responsible for the motor vehicle or trailer and should be liable for the offence.

(4) However, a person will not be held liable for an offence if the person, where permitted, establishes that, at the time of the offence, the person was not responsible for the motor vehicle or trailer and either—

(a) provides information sufficient to identify and locate the person driving or in charge of the motor vehicle or trailer at the time of the offence; or

(b) explains why the person cannot with reasonable diligence ascertain the identity of the person who was driving or in charge of the motor vehicle or trailer at the time of the offence.

The basic operator onus system currently in operation will be retained, but further amendments are intended to discourage corporations from failing to nominate the driver when a vehicle registered to them is detected by an automatic detection device like a speed camera or red light camera. If the same company fails to nominate a driver three times in the same year it can be prosecuted under a new offence created at s 84BEA, which will carry a maximum penalty of 120 penalty units.

The bill also extends the time for the laying of a charge for giving false or misleading information in a nomination, from the current 12 months to 2 years.

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