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Speeding Offences

Speeding is one of the most common traffic violations in the Australian Capital Territory. Driving in excess of a posted speed limit can result in a fine and the assessment of demerit points.

Read our article on Speed Limit Violations to learn more about speed limit laws and the penalties that might be imposed if you receive an infraction notice for speeding.

The police in the ACT make a visible effort to catch speeders in the hope that their efforts will deter speeding. They use a variety of speed detection devices, including laser and radar. Fixed and mobile speed cameras are the most controversial tool used by the police in the war against speeders. While the cameras result in the issuance of a large number of infraction notices, they also result in errors. Read our articles about Speed Cameras and Other Speed Detection Devices to learn about the defences you might have if you were caught on a speed camera.

Safe speed

You are required to drive at a safe speed in the ACT even if that speed is less than the posted speed limit. Conditions that might require you to drive at a reduced speed, regardless of the posted limit, include:

  • Reduced visibility due to fog or heavy rain
  • Slippery road conditions
  • Heavy or slow traffic
  • The presence of pedestrians or bicyclists
  • Children playing near the road
  • An accident on the road
  • Road construction

An upcoming intersection

If it is not safe to drive at the speed limit, you must drive at a speed that is prudent, even if it is less than a posted or default speed limit. What speed is “safe” is often a judgment call and it may be difficult for the police to claim you committed an offence simply because they disagree with your judgment. If, however, your judgment about a safe speed is incorrect and your speed contributes to a traffic accident (or even to a “near miss”), you may be charged with a more serious offence than speeding. Potential charges include:

Culpable driving (if driving at a negligent speed causes death or grievous bodily harm)
Reckless driving (including driving at a dangerous speed)

Negligent driving (including driving too fast for road conditions)

All of those offences carry the possibility of incarceration in addition to fines and other penalties. If you are charged (or think you might be charged) with a serious crime that involves driving at an excessive speed, you should review your options with a criminal defence lawyer.

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