What are the Penalties for Not Wearing a Seatbelt in NSW?

By Sahar Adatia and Jimmy Singh.

 

A pair acting as improvised delivery drivers in Queensland who attempted to transport a television in the back of their car, in hindsight, probably wished they simply paid for a professional after copping a combined $782 fine.

The duo was travelling in Laidley, west of Brisbane, on 16 May 2019, when they were brought to a stop amid heavy traffic.

Police, who happened to be patrolling the area, quickly had their attention drawn to the backseat of the car, where a 51-year-old woman was caught lying unrestrained holding an unopened flat screen television.

The woman was lying on top of seats that were folded down, with the recently purchased television in her arms.

Officers construed that the woman was clasping the large appliance because it did not fit in the vehicle’s boot.

Both the woman and the 52-year-old male driver were slapped with $391 fines.

The driver was also hit with three demerit points.

 

Police Release Footage of Incident to Stress Importance of Wearing Seatbelts

Following the television debacle, police released footage of the incident, aiming to emphasise the importance of wearing seatbelts and using proper restraints while in motor vehicles.

“When it comes to seatbelt safety, people often don’t consider the impact their choices will have on the people around them,” Road Policing Command Acting Assistant Commissioner David Johnson said.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re only travelling around the corner as most road crashes happen close to home.

“Whether you’re a driver or passenger you must, by law, wear a seat belt.”

 

The Dangers you Risk if you Don’t Wear a Seatbelt in a Motor Vehicle

Wearing a seatbelt while in a motor vehicle is not simply a matter of law – it is a sheer matter of safety.

Nevertheless, if you thought you could get away unscathed by not wearing a seatbelt while in a motor vehicle, then the Centre for Road Safety NSW certainly has an ominous wake-up call for you.

Alarmingly, it is reported that despite NSW having enforced the compulsory use of seatbelts dating back to 1971, each year, on average, approximately 30 drivers and passengers are killed as a result of not wearing available seatbelts.

Meanwhile, a whopping 220 are injured each year on average by not following seatbelt rules.

Indeed, the majority of these deaths and injuries could have been avoided had seatbelt safety been correctly followed.

According to the Centre for Road Safety, which carried out a crash test, it was found that a driver who is not restrained by a seatbelt will continue to travel forward at the speed the vehicle was travelling at until something stops them.

Commonly, this ends up being the steering wheel, the dashboard or the windscreen.

But perhaps more worryingly, in some crashes, it is even possible for the driver to spear through one of the windows, partially or fully ejecting from the vehicle. From here, it is also a possibility for them to hit fixed objects, get run over, or be crushed by their own vehicle.

When it comes to unrestrained passengers, the risks are equally as dangerous.

In a crash, an unrestrained rear-seat occupant continues to travel forward until their advance is obstructed by an obstacle, which is usually one of the front seats.

In the case of a severe collision, due to the force with which the seat is stuck, it is common for the seat mountings or seat structure to completely fail.

But it gets worse.

Even after striking the seat in front, chances are the momentum of the passenger will likely force their upper body over the top of the seat. This can result in serious head injuries, or cause their head to strike a dangerous blow to the front seat occupant.

These instances can lead to other traffic offences in NSW with heavy penalties.

What are the Penalties for Not Wearing a Seatbelt in NSW?

There is a penalty of up to $2,200 that a court can impose to a driver of a motor vehicle who fails to wear a seatbelt properly adjusted and fastened if the vehicle is moving or stationary (but not parked), unless reversing (rule 264 Road Rules 2014 (NSW)).

The above penalty is the maximum that a court can impose if the matter ends up going to court.

Anyone caught committing this offence will be issued with an on-the-spot fine (also known as a penalty notice) of $344 plus 3 demerit points.

If the penalty notice fine is paid, the matter is put to an end without the need to attend a court. Although the demerit points will be incurred as a result.

If you wish to avoid a demerit point suspension, you may court-elected the penalty notice fine. This will require you to appear in court and enter a ‘guilty’ or ‘not guilty’ plea before a Magistrate or Judge.

If you’re found to be ‘not guilty’ after a defended hearing, the charge will be dismissed in court.

If you plead guilty to the charge, the only way you will avoid the demerit points and fine is if the Magistrate or Judge is convinced to impose a section 10 non-conviction penalty as a sentence. This will avoid t licence suspension or disqualification.

The same penalties apply to a passenger 16-years or older who fails to wear a seatbelt properly adjusted and fastened in a moving or stationary but not parked motor vehicle. The passenger will not incur demerit points but will face the same on-the-spot fine. (rule 265(2)(c) Road Rules 2014 (NSW)).

If a driver fails to ensure that a passenger (of at least 16-years of age) complies with this rule, the driver will face an on-the-spot fine of $344 in addition to 3 demerit points (rule 265(3) Road Rules 2014 (NSW)).

The driver will face a $686 fine with 6 demerit points if he/she breaches this rule where there are 2 unrestrained passengers.

That penalty increased to $1,106 with 6 demerit points if there are 3 unrestrained passengers.

The penalty is further increased to $1,449 with 6 demerit points if there are 4 or more unrestrained passengers.

Exceptions where the above rules do not apply include:

  • The person is engaged in door to door delivery or collection of goods and is required to go in and out, or on or off the vehicle at frequent intervals if the vehicle travels at no more than 25 km/h.; or
  • The person is engaged in the collection of waste or garbage and is required to go in and out, or on or off the vehicle at frequent intervals if the vehicle travels at no more than 25 km/h; or
  • Due to a medical condition if that person is carrying a relevant medical certificate.

Contact our friendly team if you have a question 24/7 on (02) 8606 2218.

Our traffic lawyers are based in Sydney with 7 other offices across the state.

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