Many of the offences under the Road Safety Act 1986 (Vic) (RSA) are categorised as ‘operator onus’ offences, including exceeding speed limits, disobeying traffic signals and travelling in designated lanes detected by road safety cameras. If your client fails to nominate another driver, they become liable and are ‘deemed’ to have committed the offence (pt 6AA RSA).
Strict timeframes apply to nomination (for excessive speeding offences there is only 28 days to nominate, see below), so if your client instructs that they were not driving the vehicle it’s important to keep these timeframes in mind from the initial interview.
If your client instructs you that he or she was not driving the vehicle at the time of the offence, your client can apply to nominate another driver under s 84 RSA. This option is not available if a police officer issued a hand written infringement notice to your client, the fine is for a drink or drug-driving offence, or if the vehicle was unregistered at the time of the offence.
It is an offence under s 84BI RSA to knowingly provide false or misleading information in a nomination statement and can attract a maximum penalty of 60 penalty units (over $9000).
How to nominate another driver?
If your client wants to nominate another driver, your client needs to either:
complete the nomination statement on the back of the infringement notice; or
Your client will need to provide the personal details of the nominated driver, including name, address, licence number and date of birth. If your client does not know this information, your client must provide details of what reasonable and diligent enquiries he or she has made to try to identify the driver or person in possession or control of the vehicle at the time of the offence. If your client is reluctant to nominate the other party because, for example, your client was in a violent relationship with the nominated person, your client should apply to the Family Violence Scheme.
For non-excessive speed offences, the nomination statement should be completed as soon as possible after receiving the infringement notice to avoid fees being added. Nomination must occur before the infringement is registered with Fines Victoria or the Children’s Court and the issuing of a notice of final demand (typically 49 days from the date of the infringement).
For excessive speed offences (driving at 130 kms per hour or more or 25 kms per hour or more in excess of the speed limit), your client must make a nomination within 28 days of the date of the infringement notice was issued to avoid his or her licence being automatically suspended or cancelled and a conviction being recorded, which will appear on the client’s criminal record. This period will be extended if your client applied for an extension of time due to not being aware of the fine until 14 days ago or less under s 89B RSA. An application for extension under s 89B must be accompanied by a sworn statement in writing or a statutory declaration setting out the grounds on which the extension is sought.
If the issuing agency accepts the nomination, your client’s infringement notice will be withdrawn and the issuing agency has 12 months in which to commence court action against the other driver instead of pursuing you for the penalty.
If your client does not provide the required information, the issuing agency may not accept your client’s nomination. For example, if the person your client nominates as the driver provides a statement that they were not the driver and the agency accepts their statement. The agency has 12 months to commence action against your client from the date your nomination of another driver is refused. If this is the case, the infringement notice will remain in your client’s name.
If a fine has reached the notice of final demand or enforcement warrant stage, your client cannot nominate another driver.
If your client cannot nominate because of family violence, they may be eligible for the Family Violence Scheme.