In an effort to encourage more motorists to exercise a greater level of discretion and restraint when they're behind the wheel, government officials will stiffen the financial penalties this winter for not complying with several of the state's road rules.
As of July 1, 2022, any Queenslander who is pulled over for not fastening their seat belts will be hit with a $1,000 fine — more than two times higher than the current penalty, which is approximately $400.
Mark Bailey, the sitting minister for Transport and Main Roads of Queensland, warned that despite the state's hard-line stance regarding requiring everyone to buckle up, people continue to flout Queensland law.
"We're getting tough, but you know, it's not that hard to solve – just do the right thing," Bailey said, as reported by 7News.com.au.
As with other local governments, the Queensland Government enforces traffic law through a combination of fines and demerit points. Currently, Queenslanders — as well as visitors — who are found not to be wearing a seatbelt on the state's streets are cited a $413 fine and docked three demerit points, according to Queensland Road Rules Section 264. They can be fined an additional $413 and three demerit points if any children (16 years age and under) are not wearing a seat belt or are, but the strap is fastened improperly.
With the new enforcement powers, the cost for failing to wear a seatbelt will more than double, and the demerit point penalty will rise to four.
Speeding fines to rise
But seat belt wearing isn't the only road rule the Queensland Government is getting tougher about this winter. It also wants motorists to slow down. Thus, starting July 1, motorists pulled over for exceeding the posted speed limit will pay more than they do now for the same rate of speed.
Presently, depending on how many kilometres per hour drivers are operating their vehicles beyond what's considered lawful, speeding fines range between a minimum of $183 (for driving no more than 13 kilometres per hour above the limit) to a maximum of $1,286 (for driving 40 km/h or more above the limit), according to Queensland Road Rules Section 20 and 81, respectively. Beginning in July, the minimum and maximum will rise to $287 and $1,653. The demerit point penalty for speeding will remain the same, which is three points, as will the number of months licences are revoked, which is exclusive to those who drive 40 km/h or more above the limit (automatic six-month suspension).
Even though seat belts have been mandatory for all motorists in Queensland for half a century, thousands of drivers have been cited in recent months for not fastening themselves in. Between November 2021 and February 2022, speed cameras captured approximately 50,000 instances in which motorists in the state were either not wearing their seat belts or were operating their mobile devices while behind the wheel. Approximately 14,000 of those fines were for not wearing seat belts.
"To think seatbelts have been mandatory for 50 years and almost 14,000 people have been caught doing the wrong thing in just four months is outrageous," Bailey said, as reported by ABC News.
Going through red lights to cost nearly $600
Running a red light will also be more costly. Queensland Road Rules Section 56 allow police officers will fine those who fail to stop at red lights $413, accompanied by a three demerit point penalty. That cost will rise to $575 as of July 1. The demerit point punishment won't change.
Bailey noted that the core purpose of the stiffer penalties is to make the roads safer and end highway fatalities. So far this year, 81 people have been killed on Queensland highways and back roads. Bailey said the state's mission is zero road deaths by 2050. The road to that goal depends on motorists obeying traffic laws, and increasing the fines is an attempt to deter aggressive driving behaviour.
Have you been cited for speeding, running a red light, not wearing a seatbelt or some other traffic infraction but believe the fine is unfounded? Russo Lawyers may be able to help. Whether you're looking to reduce the penalty or strike it from your driving record entirely, the traffic lawyers at Russo Lawyers can provide you with the representation you need and the expert guidance you can trust about the best path forward. Contact us today to learn more.