LEGAL OPINION: Conditions apply

By: Sarah Marinovic*


Whether you’re a driver or operator, it’s important to be aware of compliance requirements

LEGAL OPINION: Conditions apply
Double checking your obligations doesn’t have to be a difficult thing

If you rely on mass and dimension permits, it’s important to keep up to date with the conditions of your exemptions because even small breaches can lead to large fines.

This month I’m encouraging operators to take a moment to review their permits and make sure they’re complying with each requirement. Taking a few minutes now to check can avoid huge headaches down the track.

Anyone who has used a mass or dimension permit will know there’s a lot of terms and conditions. Some are obviously important, such as the allowable mass or routes. Others are more administrative, such as whether you need to carry the notice or permit with you in the truck.

The law though, views them all as mandatory and requires strict compliance. Failing to comply with a condition causes several possible problems.

Firstly, not complying with permit or notice conditions is an offence. Even simple things like forgetting to carry a copy of the permit can result in a hefty fine. A court that finds someone guilty of contravening a condition of an exemption can impose fines of over $6,000 for individuals or $30,000 for corporations.

The second, and often even more costly problem, is that failing to comply with every condition of the exemption can invalidate it. This means that the higher limits under the exemption are disregarded when calculating whether your vehicle is breaching mass or dimension limits. Instead you are subject to the general limits.

As you can imagine, this could mean that an otherwise compliant vehicle, or one that is only a small amount over its limits, is now treated as being significantly over the limits.

For example, imagine a person who is operating under a notice that allows a 49.5 tonne GVM as opposed to the usual 42 tonne under the general limits. If the vehicle was slightly overloaded to 50 tonne then they are in breach of the conditions of the notice and will lose the benefit of it. Now the overload will be judged against the 42 tonne GVM general limits.

So while the vehicle is only 500kg over the permit limits, they will be breached for being 8 tonne over. This can be the difference between paying a relatively small infringement notice as opposed to being sent to court where much higher fines can be imposed.

Double checking

It’s also important to remember that the requirements to comply with the conditions applies to both drivers and operators. So no matter what your role in the industry, it’s important to be proactive about knowing which conditions apply to you.

Double checking your obligations doesn’t have to be a difficult thing. A simple starting point is just to make sure you have printed a copy of each permit and notice that applies to your vehicle and have read them. Take a moment to consider whether you are following each of the conditions. If you’re an operator it’s also a good idea to make sure your employees have read the conditions and signed a written confirmation that they understand and follow them.

If in doubt about any of the requirements it’s a good idea to seek advice. The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator hotlines can assist. Or our team of lawyers at Ainsley Law are always happy to help.

*SARAH MARINOVIC is a principal solicitor at Ainsley Law – a firm dedicated to traffic and heavy vehicle law. She has focused on this expertise for over a decade, having started her career prosecuting for the RMS, and then using that experience as a defence lawyer helping professional drivers and truck owners. For more information email Sarah at sarah@ainsleylaw.com.au or phone 0416 224 601.

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