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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2011 Week 14 Hansard (Thursday, 8 December 2011) . . Page.. 5920 ..


person has been convicted or found guilty of the first offence when he or she commits the second or subsequent offence. Under this common law principle, a person who reoffends after he or she has already been before a court and found guilty was considered to be more deserving of blame, and therefore deserving of greater punishment, than a person who had not been dealt with by the courts when he or she committed the second or subsequent offence.

With better public access to information about the penalties for reoffending and sometimes lengthy period between the commission of an offence and the finalisation of proceedings for that offence, the common law approach to interpreting “repeat offender” provisions is no longer considered to have the same relevance it did in earlier times of lower literacy and poorer understanding of the consequences of offending. The continuing application of the common law principle can result in a person who has committed a series of offences over a period of time being sentenced as though he or she were a first offender for each of the later offences, merely because of delays finalising proceedings for the first offence.

The amendments will apply the new concept of “repeat offender” and “first offender” under the Road Transport (Alcohol and Drugs) Act 1977 in the context of existing sections 62 and 63 of the Road Transport (General) Act 1999.

The effect of the new concept of “repeat offender” in new section 61AA is that if a person has already been convicted or found guilty of a relevant disqualifying offence when he or she is convicted or found guilty of a second or subsequent disqualifying offence, that person will be a “repeat offender” for the second or subsequent offence. A person may also be a repeat offender for a relevant disqualifying offence if he or she is convicted or found guilty of the second or subsequent offence concurrently with the conviction or finding of guilt for the first offence.

The new concept of “repeat offender” will apply to provisions that set automatic licence disqualification periods for people who commit certain serious road safety offences. These offences are culpable driving; races, attempts on speed records and speed trials; negligent driving that occasions death or grievous bodily harm; burnouts and other prohibited conduct; furious, reckless or dangerous driving; and menacing driving.

Under the road transport legislation, a person who has completed a period of licence disqualification is not immediately eligible for a full driver licence. The only category of driver licence that the person may be granted is a probationary licence. A probationary licence has a zero alcohol limit and the holder may only incur two demerit points before their licence is cancelled. The automatic licence disqualification has two functions: it removes the person from the road for a certain time, and it obliges the person to undergo 12 months of driving probation during which safer driving behaviours must be sustained.

The bill makes similar amendments to the concept of “repeat offender” in provisions in the Road Transport (Safety and Traffic Management) Act 1999 that allow the court to order the confiscation of vehicles used in certain serious road safety offences, including menacing driving, street racing and burnouts.


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