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  • Shaun Pascoe

Refuse breath test, careless driving, and proceed through a red light - a case study

Court where case heard

Heidelberg Magistrates' Court, June 2022.


In June 2021 the police received a report a vehicle driven by our client had been involved in an accident and had driven through a red light. The circumstances of the accident did not involve our client leaving the scene before exchanging his details.

The report to the police also detailed observations that our client appeared to be adversely affected by alcohol.

The police intercepted our client whilst it was stationary in a carpark and questioned our client about the circumstances of the accident, and his consumption of alcohol. A preliminary breath test was undertaken, and our client then a request was made upon our client to attend a police station for an evidentiary breath test. He attend with the police but later refused to provide a suffcient sample (breath analysis) for testing.

Our client was served a summons to attend court to answer the following offences:

- Careless driving

- Proceed through red light

- Refuse to undergo a breath test

Offence penalties

The offence of careless driving is prosecuted under section 65 of the Road Safety Act 1986 (Vic). The maximum penalty for a first offence is 12 units, and for a subsequent offence, a penalty of 25 penalty units. The offence does not carry mandatory license suspension or disqualification, however, a period of suspension may be ordered under section 28 of the Road Safety Act 1986 (Vic).

The maximum penalty for Proceeding through a red light under rule 59 of the Road Safety Rules 2017 (Vic) is 109 penalty units (natural person) and 120 penalty units (body corporate).

Refusing to undergo a breath test is an offence under section 49(1)(e) of the Road Safety Act 1986 (Vic). A first offence under section 49(3) carries a maximum penalty of 12 penalty units; for a second offence or 12 months imprisonment. In the case of a third (or more) offence, a maximum penalty of 180 penalty units or 18 months imprisonment applies. In addition to these penalties mandatory license disqualification also applies. For a first offence, 2 years license disqualification, and 4 years for a subsequent offence (section 50(1B) of the Road Safety Act 1986 (Vic).

What happened at Court?

Our client provided instructions he would enter a plea of guilty. Our client had also indicated during the early stages of our engagement with him, that it was important for him to avoid a conviction for the offences.

Submissions to the Court on the day of his plea hearing emphasised our client's good character by tendering several character references. The Court's attention was drawn to our client's very good traffic history, and that this was in fact his first court appearance for traffic offences.

Our client avoided a criminal conviction and was fined $2000 (for all offences), the license disqualification was confined to the statutory minimum of 24 months, backdated to the date of the offence (on account of an immediate suspension notice).

Require Advice or Representation for a Traffic Offence?

If you have been served with traffic offences and require representation at Court, don't hesitate to call our office to organise an appointment. We offer an initial free case assessment so that we can properly understand your situation and provide advice as to your options. Call us on 03 9668 7600 or make an appointment online through our website.

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