Fines for South Australian driving offences jump by up to 500%

22nd Aug 2019

Governments change laws for many reasons – sometimes changes are made to benefit the interests of citizens, sometimes they are made for political expediency, and sometimes there is a combination of reasons. The raft of recent changes to penalties for driving offences in South Australia, including increases of up to 500% for some offences, arguably fall largely into ‘political expediency’ category. The soaring fines are clearly a response to the budget black hole created by more than $500 million dollars in lost GST revenue; the increases are expected to generate an extra $79 million in revenue for the South Australian Government. Although the Government would contend that these penalty hikes are designed principally to reduce injuries and fatalities on its roads, budgetary difficulties are undoubtedly ‘front and centre’. The new penalties apply from 1 July 2019. 

The former Treasurer, Stephen Mullighan, said the South Australian Government has broken its 2018 election promise to lower costs. 

‘It doesn't matter if you're a motorist, a public transport user, a tradie or a hospital worker, no South Australian is safe from this massive hike in fees and charges,’ Mr Mullighan said. 

‘This is an attack on households, an attack on businesses and an attack on South Australians who are just trying to manage their cost of living at a time of low inflation and low growth in their wages.’ 

CEO of the South Australian Council of Social Service, Ross Womersley, has stated that people on low incomes will be hardest hit by these changes.

Massive hikes in speeding fines for businesses that fail to nominate drivers

Before 1 July, a driver of a car that was registered to a business who was caught speeding could avoid losing demerit points if the business was willing to protect his or her anonymity and pay a $300 fine. From 1 July 2019, business that fail to nominate the driver will face a fine of $1,800; a whopping 500% increase. On the figures from the 2017–18 financial year, this change could affect as many as 15,000 drivers each year.

Big increases in speeding fines

Speeding offences in the higher ranges — speed limit exceeded by 30km/h but less than 45 km/h and speed limit exceeded by 45 km/h and over — have been increased by a staggering 60%. The speeding fine for travelling at 30–45km/h over the limit has increased from $920 to $1,472, while drivers caught speeding by 45km/h or more will face a fine of $1,658 — up from $1,036.

Big increases in fines for using mobile phones while driving

Drivers caught using their mobile phones when they are behind the wheel will face a $534 fine, up from $334, which represents a 60% increase. 

Drivers can only use a mobile phone when their vehicle is safely parked in an authorised space with the engine turned off, or when they are driving and the mobile phone is:

  • secured in a hands-free mount which does not obstruct the driver’s view; and
  • is connected via Bluetooth without touching it.

Penalties for drink and drug driving offences

These penalties have also increased by 21%, from $613 to $743.

Many South Australians who are already struggling financially with cost of living pressures will struggle to pay these increased fines. It is a strong reminder for drivers to exercise caution on the roads and to put their phones away.

Danielle Harris is a young marketing and communications expert, working in one of South Australia’s oldest legal firms, Scammell & Co. She loves writing about new laws and regulations the government introduces. Being born and bred in Adelaide, she has a strong interest in matters that arise in SA. Her goals are to continue writing and eventually work in Europe, reporting about global matters and researching the legal systems in other Western countries.

The views and opinions expressed in these articles are the authors' and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA).

Learn about how you can get involved and contribute an article. 


Tags: South Australia Driving offences Fines Danielle Harris