Fail to Stop at a Red Light

It is a minor traffic offence to fail to come to a complete stop at an intersection with a red light. A driver is prohibited from entering an intersection where a red light (or red arrow in the turning direction) is displayed.[1] A driver is required to stop before a stop line at a red light or a red-light arrow.[2] However, if the driver is already in the intersection at the time the light turns amber or red, they are required to exit the intersection safely.[3]

An intersection is defined as an area of road where different pathways of vehicles can collide.

Elements of the Offence

Fail to stop at a red light is a strict liability offence, meaning that your intention is irrelevant. However, the Police are required to establish that you:

  1. Were the driver of a vehicle that;
  2. Failed to stop at a red light before the stop line marking of an intersection; or
  3. Failed to stop at a traffic light or other ‘stop here on red signal’ sign.

Possible Penalties for a Fail to Stop at a Red Light Offence

If you incur a fail to stop at a red-light infringement, the maximum penalty is a fine of up to $1619 and 3 demerit points.[4] However, the fine is more commonly $403 (current as at November 2018). If the vehicle is registered to a company and no driver can be identified, the fine increases to $3,224.

Defences Available

There are two ways to receive an infringement – via an automatic traffic camera unit or if a Police officer witnesses you entering the intersection on a red light and failing to stop.

No camera detection system is infallible, so if you received a fine from an automatic camera unit and believe that you were sent the infringement in error, you can seek an internal review. For example, if your numberplate was partially obscured in the photo or you. Further, if you had previously entered the intersection (such as on a green light whilst waiting to turn) you are required by law to clear the intersection. Therefore, it is a defence if you argue that you were already in the intersection when the light changed to display red.

However, it will be essential that you obtain a photo of the car from Victorian Traffic Camera Office. This will help determine whether the camera system had taken a photo in error and give grounds for an internal review.

As the infringement is sent to the registered owner of the vehicle, you can also argue that you were not the driver at the time of the alleged offence. However, you must nominate another individual who was driving at the time. You can also argue that you were not the driver at the time of the alleged offence and complete a statutory declaration to nominate the correct driver. If you do not know the driver (e.g. your car was stolen or recently sold) you can also complete an unknown user or illegal user statement.

You may also have the defence of sudden extraordinary emergency available. For example, if you had a critically ill passenger in your car and were transporting them to the hospital at the time of the alleged offence.

You may also have a defence of reasonable mistake or a factual dispute relating to the charge.

However, if you intend to contest your fail to stop at a red-light infringement, it is important to consult an experienced legal practitioner to assist with your defence.

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[1] Road Safety Road Rules 2009 (Vic) Rule 56, 60.
[2] Road Safety Road Rules 2009 (Vic) Rule 59.
[3] Road Safety Road Rules 2009 (Vic) Rule 61(5).
[4] Road Safety Road Rules 2009 (Vic) Rule 56(1).

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