Heavy vehicle experts Fourtree Lawyers is celebrating a court win for a hard-working 29-year-old Sydney truckie who was facing two potentially expensive logbook breaches.
He was charged with two counts of ‘solo driver working more than the std maximum time’ under Section 250(1)(a) of the Heavy Vehicle National Law (NSW). The maximum penalty for each of these offences is a $17,100 fine and four demerit points.
Solicitor Denise McCarthy attended Gosford Local Court on the client’s behalf. McCarthy submitted that the Sydney truckie had worked hard and never been on welfare. She noted that her client had no criminal record, nothing on his traffic record and is a person of good character with strong support from his supervisors and co-workers.
In addition, the particular circumstances of the offence were highly relevant, argued Fourtree Lawyers.
“Our client was delayed by a protracted inspection of his vehicle by NSW authorities due to an accident involving a colleague in Melbourne who worked for the same company. This took over three hours and he was unaware of his obligation to count this as work time,” said McCarthy.
The two charges were only possible due to an 11-hour overlap between the two 24-hour periods identified for the purposes of 12-hour standard work limits.
McCarthy argued that there was a risk of inherent injustice and ‘double punishment’ in allowing the prosecution to issue two charges based on severely overlapping 24-hour periods which both captured the same error, the three-hour inspection period.
This was illustrated with technical examples which indicated that this kind of interpretation would put extraordinary risk on all truck drivers if the Court looks upon it with approval.
McCarthy further submitted to the Court that the offence was of a technical rather than substantiative nature and demonstrated this by means of close examination of all the rest breaks taken over the period of the two charges.
The prosecutor also put up a vigorous argument and relied on a recent district court decision to argue the validity of the two charges based on the commencement of each period following a major rest break.
The Magistrate observed that the case law quoted did not assist the court in determining whether overlapping 24-hour periods were a valid exercise of prosecutions.
He was otherwise sufficiently convinced by the submissions and documents tendered to the court demonstrating the defendant’s excellent driving record, qualifications and character as well as the clear explanation for his error.
The Magistrate also considered the Sydney truckie’s early guilty pleas and contrition. His Honour found our client guilty of the two counts but without proceeding to conviction and dismissed the matters pursuant to Section 10(1)(a) of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999.
“Cases such as this clearly demonstrate that it is vital to have a lawyer experienced in heavy vehicle matters if you are issued with a court attendance notice,” said Fourtree Lawyers.
“Heavy vehicle matters are very different to ordinary traffic matters and important details can be missed by lawyers who do not regularly handle these cases. This is especially true in the case of CANs issued to corporations for whom Magistrates have the discretion to apply a multiplier of 5 to the maximum penalty.”