Attending court after garnishee order

Discussion in 'Traffic Law Forum' started by JanelleRose, 12 October 2019.

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  1. JanelleRose

    JanelleRose Member

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    So it's kind of a long story, but I didn't update my address with Services NSW. I was overseas on holiday, but a family member borrowed my car (without asking) and was caught by a speeding camera. The car was not registered (it was in a garage and off the road). There were three separate fines: speeding, unregistered and uninsured. I did not know about the fines as the notices were sent to my previous address. I only found out after a large amount of money vanished from my bank account. I then learned what had happened from Revenue NSW.

    Figuring that I wasn't the driver, I submitted an annulment application a couple of weeks ago and now have court attendance notices.

    While I have customs records to prove that I was out of the country and not driving the vehicle, I am still the registered owner. I've been reading online and it seems like courts are really hard on traffic offences. I'm worried that I'm going to be charged even more for the offences (the unregistered/unlicenced fine is $1200, but apparently it can be $2000 if you take it to court!!!).

    I've called a few lawyers but none could confirm that they had any experience with attending court in relation to a fine after a garnishee order had already been applied.

    Has anyone got any experience dealing with something like this? I don't know what to do. The court attendance notice seems to suggest that I could just plead guilty, is that safer at this point? I'm worried that then they will charge me court fees and larger fines. I know that I should have updated my address. I've really messed up.

    Does anyone have any suggestions? I appreciate that you can't give legal advice over a forum.
     
  2. sammy01

    sammy01 Well-Known Member

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    I'm thinking the fact that you failed notify them is where you're screwed
    Change address and contact details (driver licence, vehicle registration or other road licence records) | Service NSW
    Must nofity of change of address within 14 days. I would not spend $$$ on a solicitor. Just go to court, get there early, watch a few cases and learn what not to do. HAVE MANNERS. Explain... It would be good thing for the family member to be there and be prepared to stand up and explain himself to the magistrate if asked....
     
  3. Adam1user

    Adam1user Well-Known Member

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    First I am not a lawyer, and I will give you some ideas, by disputing this (going to court), you will be opening other issues that do you really want, example: "borrowed my car (without asking)", this means stealing, do you want to charge your family member with theft, if not, then by custom or practice, your family member usually borrows your car without asking and you have approved that from past experience, then you are responsible. I don't see any issue for not registering your car or having insurance as long as you don't drive it, I don't think there is a law you broke that law, but as you mentioned, not registering it and not insuring it, and driving it, this is where the problem is, so you will have other fines for that, you may not get out of some, as I mentioned to you depending on your approach as I explained above, (charging your family friend for theft or not), so it is a bit tricky and maybe talk to a lawyer who is specialised in traffic law, other lawyers may not have enough experience to help you.
    Again, I am not a lawyer, just using common sense. Good luck.
     
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  4. Scruff

    Scruff Well-Known Member

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    I don't know for certain, but I think you would have received the court notices because of the amount of time that has elapsed. The matter was already with Revenue NSW, so to claim someone else was driving after all that time, I'm guessing that you now need to put your case to the court. Like I said, don't know for sure, but I think that's why you've received the court notices even though a garnishee order had already been applied.

    I don't think you have anything to worry about. It sounds like you have conclusive evidence that you weren't the driver, so the only issue is that I don't think there's a way around giving up who was driving. The simple fact is that if it wasn't you, then you will have to nominate someone.

    In regard to the fines, I doubt they would be changed at all in these circumstances. You're not challenging the offences, only who the driver was. That shouldn't result in any change to the penalties.

    As far as the delay due to not changing your address, keep in mind that since you were overseas, you still wouldn't have learned anything until you got back anyway. Whether or not that's relevant depends on dates - when various notices were sent and when you got back. If you wouldn't have known what was happening anyway, then not changing your address, while being frowned upon, wouldn't really be relevant as it didn't have any impact on what actually happened. Again - it all depends on dates. But let other people bring that stuff up - don't bring it up yourself unless you have to.

    Theft isn't an issue because the vehicle was never reported stolen. If you travel regularly and you have a standing agreement that a particular person may use your car while you're away, then consent for that person to use the car wouldn't be an issue either.

    In regard to registration, it is not an offence to own an unregistered vehicle - it is only an offence to drive one. The sole responsibility in that regard is on the driver, in that they are responsible for ensuring that the vehicle they are driving is registered at the time they drive it. For example, if you have a company car and the company forgets to renew the rego, then if caught, you're the one who gets booked - not the company. If you then try to challenge it in court claiming you didn't know it was unregistered, you lose every time because knowing the vehicle was not registered is not an element of the offence.

    As has already been stated, one thing that would certainly help you would be for the driver to appear and admit that they were driving the vehicle at the time. If they do that, then there wouldn't be any need for the court to look at anything else anyway.

    One thing you should give careful consideration to here is your driving record. This isn't just about who cops the fines and demerit points. Unlike some criminal convictions that can become spent and no longer appear, everything that goes on your driving record is permanent. It shouldn't be taken lightly.
     
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