Traffic Law

At O’Brien Winter Partners we have the expertise in Traffic Law to help you understand the offence you may have committed; what penalties the court could impose; what will happen at court, and what options are available to you to keep your licence.

We consistently get exceptional results for our clients because we understand Traffic Law.
With over 45 years of combined experience you can be confident you will receive the best Traffic Law advice and representation.

Our team co-ordinates and lectures at the Broadmeadow Traffic Offenders Intervention Program and consists of Christopher O’Brien and Kristy Winter, both recognised as some of the finest traffic lawyers in NSW, and Bradley Gabb a former NSW Police Officer and RMS Investigator who knows the complex Traffic Law scheme with almost 30 year’s experience.

We attend all courts in the Hunter, Central Coast and beyond and know the Magistrates and how best to approach them. You can be confident your matter will be carefully prepared before you attend Court and our lawyers will ensure you will be presented in the best possible light for a plea of guilty. Alternatively we will rigorously defend you in your matter if you are not guilty of the alleged offence.

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For more information regarding a traffic matter, please call our office on 02 4949 2000 or email to schedule an initial conference with one of our criminal law experts. Please note our conferences are $220 per half hour, payable on the day. Any other costs will be discussed by your solicitor in your conference as these may vary depending on the best course of action after obtaining your full instructions.


One of the most commonly asked questions is, “What is a section 10?

The term “section10” refers to section 10 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999. This section gives a Court that finds you guilty of a traffic offence the power to discharge you without recording a conviction. Because there is no conviction, there is no criminal record and no loss of licence. If you would like an honest opinion about your chances of a Section 10, please call us on 02 4949 2000 or email

Drink Driving Offences:

There are 5 different categories of Driving with a Prescribed Concentration of Alcohol (PCA). The penalties can range from a fine only (Max. fines range from $1,100.00 to $3,300) to imprisonment (Max. sentences range from 9 months to 18 months), as well as having your driving licence disqualified. More severe penalties apply if you are convicted of a second or subsequent offence within 5 years. There are many ways to mitigate your penalty from the Court such as attending the Traffic Offenders Intervention Program (TOIP), obtaining references which are suitable to be tendered in Court and your genuine need for a drivers licence, to name a few. The highest Court in NSW has also handed down what is known as a “guideline judgment” that sets out the principles all NSW Courts must follow when sentencing persons convicted of drink driving offences. Similar penalties apply to driving a motor vehicle whilst under the influence of drugs.

Should I obtain Character references and can they help me if I am going to court?

It is a good idea to obtain one or more references from people who “are of good reputation”. This means they do not have a criminal record or a bad reputation. These people may be neighbours, family friends, workmates, members of clubs or organisations you belong to (eg. community sporting, religious, political or other groups).

Each reference should be addressed either “To the Presiding Magistrate” in the Local Court or “To the Presiding Judge” in the District Court. It should be:

  • Neatly written or typed;
  • Signed with the name of the person printed underneath with their address and occupation;
  • Dated; and
  • It must be the original reference.

Each reference should include the following:

  • A statement from the person writing the reference that he/she is aware of the charges before the Court;
  • How long the person has known you;
  • How the person knows you (eg. as an employer, workmate, priest, teacher, team member, family friend, flat mate, etc.);
  • The person’s opinion of your character; and
  • Anything which may help the Court concerning your charges (eg. your general honesty if it is a stealing charge; your general driving ability if it is a drink driving charge).

It will help your solicitor if you can provide the original reference to our office prior to your first Court date so that we may review it and recommend any changes.

What is the difference between Driving Whilst Suspended and Driving Whilst Disqualified?

Driving whilst suspended is when your licence is suspended by the Police, RMS or the State Debt Recovery Office (SRDO). Your licence can be suspended immediately by the Police for certain offences such as excessive speeding or some drink driving offences; by the RMS for loss of Demerit Points or the SDRO for outstanding fines. You cannot drive whilst your licence is suspended.

Driving Whilst Disqualified is when your licence is disqualified by the Court after you have been sentenced by a Magistrate or Judge.

The maximum penalties for both offences are severe:

  • 1st Offence = $3,300 and/or 18 months gaol
  • 2nd Offence within 5 years = $5,500 and/or 2 years gaol.

Your driver’s licence will also be automatically disqualified for an additional 12 months. The courts view the offence of Driving Whilst Disqualified similar to “contempt of court” as by driving you are disobeying an order of the Court.

We strongly recommend you seek legal advice before appearing at Court on either of these offences.

Welcome reform to NSW Traffic Laws

The Traffic Law Team at O’Brien Winter Partners invite you to contact our office to discuss the proposed changes to disqualified drivers.

The courts and judiciary take the offence of Drive Whilst Disqualified extremely seriously. The need for deterrence in the community is at the forefront of the sentencing exercise and at present, the penalties include;

  • 1st  Offence- maximum fine of $3,300, a maximum prison sentence of 18 months and mandatory disqualification of 12 months;
  • 2nd or Subsequent Offence- maximum fine of $5,500, a maximum prison sentence of 2 years and mandatory disqualification for 2 years

The rigidity and impact of these penalties have been the subject of debate and discussion between legal practitioners, statisticians and law reform bodies for some time.

The practicalities for many offenders is significant time off the road and the real risk of serving a significant period of time in prison. This time off the road can have flow-on effects for transport, employment and family commitments especially for those who don’t have the option of public transport due to their geographical or demographical position.

These issues have been recognised by Parliament and the Law Reform Commission and have resulted in the proposed Road Transport Amendment (Driver Licence Disqualification) Bill 2017. The Bill proposes the following key amendments;

(a) confers on the Local Court power to remove outstanding driver licence disqualification

periods, and

(b) abolishes the habitual traffic offender scheme, and

(c) provides for clearer delineation and flexibility of periods of driver licence disqualification

for unauthorised driving offences, and

(d) reduces the maximum periods of imprisonment that may be imposed for unauthorised

driving offences, and

(e) enables additional sanctions concerning vehicles to be imposed for unauthorised driving

offences and in relation to recidivist unauthorised drivers.

The Traffic Law Team at O’Brien Winter Partners welcome the above changes, due to commence in October 2017 and encourage you to contact our office on 49492000 to discuss your application further.

Demerit Points:

A driver who has not committed any offences has zero demerit points. When you commit an offence that carries demerit points, the points are added to your record. If you incur the threshold number of demerit points within a three-year period, a licence suspension or refusal is applied.

The demerit points thresholds are as follows:

  • Professional Drivers – 14 points.
  • Unrestricted licence – 13 points.
  • Provisional P2 licence – 7 points.
  • Provisional P1 licence – 4 points.
  • Learner licence – 4 points.
  • Unrestricted licence with a good behaviour period – 2 points within the term of the good behaviour period
Can I appeal a decision to suspend my licence for incurring too many demerit points?

There is no right of appeal for demerit points if you are the holder of an unrestricted licence.

If you are the holder of a P2 or P1 licence you can appeal to the Court to keep your licence. The Court has three options available to it:

  1. It can dismiss the appeal which means the suspension stands
  2. It can dismiss the appeal, but reduce the length of the suspension
  3. It can uphold the appeal and cancel the suspension. This means you retain your licence.

There are many factors a Court can take into consideration when determining whether to uphold an appeal or reduce the length of the suspension. We believe your chances of lodging a successful appeal are greatly increased by seeking legal advice on the merits of your appeal.

Other licence and speeding appeals:

The following decisions of the RMS and police can be appealed at Court:

  • A decision by the RMS to suspend your licence for exceeding the speed limit by more than 30 or more than 45 kilometres an hour
  • A decision by the police to suspend your licence for exceeding the speed limit by more than 45 kilometres an hour

Traffic Offenders Intervention Program:

Our firm works very closely with the Broadmeadow Police Citizens Youth Club to co-ordinate the Traffic Offenders Intervention Program (TOIP). Our lawyers regularly lecture at the understanding the law topic covered as part of the program.

Sessions include:

  • How alcohol and drugs affect driving ability
  • Understanding the law, the road rules and the Court process
  • Understanding the roles of the emergency services and the effect road trauma has on emergency services personnel
  • Knowledge of the road safety facts associated with driving
  • Understanding the consequences of your driving actions from a victim’s perspective

Participants must complete Assessment Tasks for each session and a Final Reflection Task is required to finish the program. It is compulsory to attend all sessions and to actively participate in the program.
Your attendance at the TOIP can have an effect on the final penalty you receive from the Court. Magistrates place a lot of importance on a driver’s successful completion of the TOIP and are very diligent in ensuring you have engaged with the program to guarantee the integrity of the TOIP.

What is a Habitual Traffic Offender Declaration and can I have one quashed?

You can be declared to be a habitual traffic offender if a court in NSW convicts you of a relevant offence, and you have, in the last five years, also being convicted of at least two other relevant offences committed on different occasions.

Some but not all relevant offences are:

  • Murder or manslaughter
  • Any offence under the Crimes Act 1900
  • Drive recklessly/furiously at a speed dangerous to the public
  • Drive negligently and cause death or grevious bodily harm
  • Menacing driving
  • PCA (drink driving) offences
  • Refuse/fail breath/blood/urine/oral test
  • Alter a breath/blood/urine/oral test
  • Aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring the commission of one of the above offences
  • Drive more than 45 km over the speed limit
  • Drive unlicensed (2nd offence)
  • Drive/make application for licence while disqualified, suspended or cancelled

If you are declared a habitual traffic offender the court can impose a further disqualification of 5 years or longer to be served at the completion of your original disqualification.

It is possible to lodge and appeal to the Local Court to quash a habitual traffic offender declaration, however it is the timing of the application that is the crucial point. We strongly recommend you seek legal advice before lodging any application to quash a habitual traffic offender declaration to maximise your chances of success at Court.

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  • “I had Kristy represent me on Friday to appeal my driving disqualification. I couldn’t of been any happier with how it all went. You made the process extremely easy for me with a friendly service and was well informed on how it could go. The outcome was awesome and will definitely make my life a lot easier. I will definitely recommend you’s to my friends and colleagues. Thank you.”

    Matthew Burt

  • I would like to take this opportunity to express how pleased I am with the outcome of my court case that Bradley Gabb defended me in.

    I first met Bradley at the Traffic Offender program where I approached him and asked about his services and how he could help. He then proceeded to explain my situation and the possible outcomes for me and as to why using a lawyer as opposed to representing yourself in court is the best possible course of action, not to gain business for himself and company but to give me the best advantage possible.

    Bradley, using his past careers and sound knowledge of the law definitely helped me on the day to obtain the best possible outcome. Throughout the entire process Bradley was very informative and kind, explaining each step and the consequences of each possible charge I could face. The time that I spent with him as he got to know me as best as he could, made me feel as though he truly did care about the outcome and how it could affect me. This Time and care was obvious as he defended extremely well and made me feel at ease.

    I could not be more thankful for his efforts and would have no hesitation at all in referring his services to anyone else in any matter, I guarantee you will not be disappointed

    – Sam

  • Hi Brad & Chris, I just wanted to thank you once again for your services and representation of my case. Brad, you did an absolutely outstanding job in Court and I am very grateful for the speed at which you grasped my history and articulated my defence before the Magistrate. I will certainly recommend your office should the unfortunate situation occur to any friends and colleagues.

    – Anonymous

  • “The outcome yesterday- for me- was a good one. I wanted to thank you all for your assistance and patience. A great big ‘Thank You’ to Chris O’Brien for his patience and understanding.”