Going to court for traffic offences

Going to court for traffic offences

Being at court for traffic offences is serious. As well as the possibility of losing your licence, you can get a criminal record and serious penalties, so get legal advice soon as possible.

Most traffic offences are heard in the Magistrates’ Court.

Speak to a lawyer before going to court

It is always a good idea to speak to a lawyer before your court date, if you can. The court will expect you to do this.

A lawyer will help you understand your case and what your options are. You can get legal advice about what the charges mean, how you should plead, and how to prepare for the hearing.

Even if you want to plead guilty, seeing a lawyer can help you present a better case. See Get help.

Going to court

Going to court for a traffic offence means you are facing a criminal charge.

See Going to court for a criminal charge to find out:

  • when and how to represent yourself
  • what to say about the charges in court, including how to plead guilty or not guilty
  • tips for talking to the magistrate
  • how to apply to for a rehearing or appeal.

Preparing for the hearing

Before going to court, think about what you will say to the magistrate. Below are some of the things you should be prepared to talk about.

The circumstances of the offence

You should describe what happened and try to explain (not excuse) why the offence happened, from your point of view. For example:

  • I was driving in an unfamiliar area.
  • I was feeling upset – for example, something had happened to affect my concentration.
  • I miscalculated the effect drinking would have on my blood alcohol content.
  • I did not see any signs.
  • I had trouble seeing the road – for example, there was bad weather.
  • I was not driving my own car.

Your reaction to the charge

The magistrate will be interested to know if there were any victims of the offence. You should explain your reaction to the charge. For example:

  • I am genuinely sorry for the incident.
  • There were no serious injuries and/or nobody was injured.
  • I have taken care of/paid for all damage.

Your driving record

For example:

  • I have never had to go to court before.
  • I have had no previous accidents.
  • I have had licence for many years.
  • After the accident, I did a defensive driving course.

Reasons for wanting to keep your licence

For example:

  • I need the car to help my family – for example, doing the shopping for the family, picking up the kids.
  • I live far from public transport.
  • I have difficulty in using public transport – for example, doing shiftwork/looking for work/have a disability.
  • I drive for work purposes (you will need a letter from your employer).
  • I have a sick child/elderly relative (you will need a doctor’s certificate).

Financial situation/personal details

For example:

  • how much money you earn
  • things you have to pay for – for example, mortgage, loans, debts
  • family situation – for example, number of people who depend on you
  • plans that might be jeopardised by loss of licence/heavy fine
  • personal information – for example, age, job.

Supporting documents

It is important to take documents with you to support your case. You can take:

  • a character reference
  • a letter from your employer about the effect of licence cancellation or suspension on your employment
  • a medical certificate.

Get help

Find out how you can get help with traffic offences.