Transport legislation amendment Act 2019

Changes to transport legislation in the Northern Territory commences on 11 December 2019.

The Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics is responsible for the administration of legislation that assists in providing a safe, efficient and sustainable transport system that meets community needs.

To ensure transport legislation achieves the intended outcome, amendments are required, from time to time, to resolve issues that may hinder the effective operation of the law.

The benefits of the proposed changes include:

  • improved road safety in line with the Towards Zero Road Safety Action Plan
  • reduced risk to the community
  • enhanced NT Police enforcement
  • protection for statutory officers who are personally liable for losses stemming from the exercise of their statutory powers
  • ability to legally exchange information to fulfil statutory obligations
  • certainty where the legislation is currently unclear.

Key features of bill

The Bill proposes to amend four pieces of legislation. A summary of the proposed amendments is listed below:

Control of Roads Act 1953

  • Clarify police powers to deploy vehicle immobilisation devices.
  • Create a power to prescribe fees for the issue of a licence or permit.

Motor Vehicles Act 1949

  • Provide protection for medical practitioners who in good faith give information and advice to the Registrar of Motor Vehicles about the fitness of a person to drive.
  • Allow the Registrar of Motor Vehicles to disclose medical information that the Registrar has in relation to a licenced driver or applicant for a licence with any registered person assisting the Registrar in assessing the applicant’s fitness to drive a motor vehicle.
  • Provide a process for the transfer of registration of vehicles abandoned on road and roadsides.

Traffic Act 1987

  • Implement a Blood Alcohol Concentration limit for supervising drivers, other than driving instructors.
  • Change the maximum penalty for a failure to pull over to undertake a breath or saliva test from 200 penalty units or imprisonment for 12 months to a range of penalties consistent with the high range drink driving offence and the failing to submit to breath analysis and failing to provide blood sample offences.
  • Provide police with a power to request that a driver undergo a breath or saliva test (or both) if they are pulled over because the officer suspects they may have committed an offence against the Traffic Act 1987 (such as speeding) or the Motor Vehicles Act 1949 (such as defect a vehicle).
  • Allow police to require a person to provide a blood sample for analysis when a breath analysis machine malfunctions or failed to provide a result because the person’s breath alcohol content is too high to measure.
  • Provide police with an exemption from the dangerous driving offence for any form of dangerous driving in the course of their duties, not just dangerous speed, and where the manner of driving is necessary to prevent a serious risk to the public.
  • Expand the provision for production of evidence to an electronic file that either is of a type that is unalterable, or allows detection of whether the data has been altered or tampered with which will keep pace with modern security solutions to protect the integrity of an image and other information produced and recorded by traffic infringement detection devices.
  • Expand the regulation making power to:
    • allow regulations be made regarding the liability of people supervising learner licence holders while driving
    • validate the liability of owners for offences committed using their vehicles by drivers who cannot be identified
    • prescribe fees for the issue of a licence or permit
    • allow the Police Commissioner to approve the method for reporting crashes.

The Traffic Regulations 1999

  • Provide a person supervising a learner, who is responsible for any offence committed by the learner, with a reasonable steps defence provision that limits their responsibility to offences committed against the Traffic Regulations 1987.
  • Allow a driver involved in a minor crash where no one suffers any injury to report the crash without the need to personally attend at a police station.

How do these changes affect me as a road user in the Northern Territory?

It is likely that the majority of road users will only be affected through improved road safety outcomes. These actions can create change in driver behaviour and introduce measures to prevent illegal and negligent behaviour.