Legal, Opinion, Robert Bell

Highway Advocates fighting for justice on the roads

Highway Advocates: A journey of dedication to the heavy vehicle industry.

As the founder and creator of Highway Advocates, I am immensely proud of the remarkable journey that this legal practice has embarked upon since our inception in May 2021.

Highway Advocates wasn’t just born out of necessity; it was born out of a deep understanding of the challenges that those in the heavy vehicle industry face daily.

Having been a truck driver myself in the past, I intimately knew the complexities, the regulations, and the risks that come with operating heavy vehicles on our roads. When the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) was introduced in 2014, it was touted as a ‘uniform and simple’ law that would revolutionize the industry.

However, it soon became evident that the reality was far from simple. The enforcement of the HVNL was anything but uniform, and different Police Forces and Services applied their own interpretations, leading to a patchwork of legal complexities.

With the creation of the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR), the industry was promised a framework that would promote safety, manage environmental impact, enhance productivity, and encourage safe business practices. These objectives were noble, but the challenges in achieving them were immense.

Highway Advocates was founded on the principles of specialised expertise and unwavering dedication to those who form the backbone of the heavy vehicle industry.

Our mission was clear: to stand as advocates for those who keep our roads moving, providing them with the legal representation they deserve.

Since our humble beginnings, we have taken on nearly 1,000 cases, each one presenting its unique set of challenges. Most of these cases were fought against the odds, as courts traditionally took a hard line on heavy vehicle offences. Yet, we persevered, leaving no stone unturned to secure favourable outcomes for our clients.

Allow me to share some of our notable achievements:

  • One memorable case involved a client facing a daunting 28 charges under the HVNL, with potential penalties exceeding $332,000 and a staggering 69 demerit points on conviction. Our extensive written submissions and tireless representation led to a $2000 fine and conviction on just one charge, with all other 27 charges being dismissed subject to a conditional release order
  • In another instance, three clients faced critical breaches and a red-light camera offence in a Local Court in NSW. Through our meticulous written submissions, all charges were miraculously dismissed upon guilty pleas
  • Two clients facing multiple critical breaches, substantial breaches, and a false and misleading charge in a Brisbane Court saw a total outcome of just a $ 1,000 fine with no recorded convictions
  • We also represented a Melbourne-based client facing a daunting 21 fatigue-related charges, each carrying a maximum penalty exceeding $180,000. Astonishingly, the outcome was no convictions or penalties, just a $500 donation to the court fund.

Unwavering commitment

Our journey has been nothing short of remarkable, with achievements spanning from critical breach charges to mass breaches and even dangerous driving causing death or serious injury offences.

These outcomes stand as a testament to our unwavering commitment to our clients, and each success story fuels our determination to keep fighting for justice.

One case that particularly highlights our dedication involved a corporate client in NSW facing potential fines of over $210,000 for a single mass breach.

Our representations to the NHVR resulted in two charges being withdrawn, ultimately leading to a maximum fine of $81,900 in court, with an outcome of just $2,000 in fines.

Another case in NSW saw a client confronting multiple fatigue charges and road rule offences with penalties soaring beyond $100,000. Through a not-guilty plea and skilful representation to NSW Police, all charges were remarkably withdrawn or dismissed.

Highway Advocates is not just a legal practice; it’s a commitment to justice, a dedication to the heavy vehicle industry, and a promise to our clients. Many of you may have seen our prominent billboards along the East Coast highways boldly proclaiming ‘Lawyers to the Heavy Vehicle Industry’.

While our core focus remains on heavy vehicle matters, our growth and the influx of experienced legal professionals have allowed us to offer a comprehensive one-stop legal service for all drivers and operators.

We understand the unique challenges that heavy vehicle drivers and operators face, and we’re here to provide support not just in heavy vehicle law but in family law, domestic violence, insurance, and any other legal aspect that may affect you in your role as a heavy vehicle driver or operator. If we can’t directly assist you, we have access to a network of legal professionals who can.

Highway Advocates is more than a legal practice; it’s a promise to keep you on the road and out of legal strife elsewhere. Our industry insider advantage guides our path, and we remain advocates in the truest sense of the word.

In this ever-evolving legal landscape, Highway Advocates stands firm, unwavering in our dedication to championing the rights and interests of those who keep our nation’s goods moving and our roads safe.

Together, we continue this remarkable journey, forging ahead as advocates for justice in the world of heavy vehicle law.

Highway Advocates is keeping you on the road and now helping you in more ways than ever before.

ROBERT BELL, a former truck driver and now managing director of Highway Advocates Pty Ltd, and his team of legal professionals assist truck drivers and operators across Australia. Contact Highway Advocates at admin@highwayadvocates.com.au or 0488 01 01 01. Visit their website at www.highwayadvocates.com.au

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