Operator-onus loophole soon to be closed

Only two days ago I posted about the recent judgment of Dolheguy v Becker [2009] VSC 106.

The short version of that case is: a Court can’t suspend the licence of the operator of a speeding car (and probably for any operator-onus offence) unless the Prosecution satisfies the Court the operator was the actual driver.

Parliament is already moving to change this: clause 7 of the Road Legislation Amendment Bill 2009 will repeal s 28(6) of the Road Safety Act. The explanatory memorandum expressly says this is intended to overcome Dolheguy v Becker [2009] VSC 106.

Other changes proposed by this Bill:

  • a new Road Safety Act s 50AAK creating an offence of by-passing or disengaging an alcohol interlock and an offence to allow a person subject to an interlock condition to drive a vehicle without an interlock (this will affect employers who tell interlock-drivers to just drive or lose their job!)
  • lowering the threshold for s 51 instant-suspensions from 0.15% to 0.10% in certain cases
  • amending Road Safety Act s 55D(6) in response to a magistrates’ dismissing a case last year because current oral fluid tests require licking rather than chewing or sucking as presently specified in the legislation
  • create a new s 61A prescribing drivers’ duties following accidents involving vehicles that are not motor vehicles
  • s 73A creates an offence of obstructing, hindering, threatening, abusing or intimidating speed camera operators
  • Chain-of-responsibility obligations that create various offences for employers, operators, schedulers, contractors and consignors who engage truck drivers on conditions that will inevitably oblige them to speed or exceed mass-limits
The Bill is proposed to commence operation the day after Royal Assent, or else 1 October 2010.

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