The main concern for most people charged with a mass overload offence is “how big could the fine be?”
Seems like a simple question. But, like many aspects of heavy vehicle law, the answer isn’t as straight forward as you’d expect.
The first concept to understand is “maximum penalty”. This basically means the biggest fine the Court can give for a particular offence.
For mass overload offences the maximum penalty depends on how far you were over the limit. The law separates breaches into 3 categories:
- Minor risk mass breach – less than 5% over the mass limit
- Substantial risk mass breach – 5-19% over the mass limit
- Severe risk mass breach – 20% or more over the mass limit
Working out the penalties for minor and substantial risk breaches is easy:
- the maximum fine for minor risk breach is $4,310
- The maximum fine for a substantial risk breach is $6,480
The severe risk breach is where things get tricky. The maximum penalty for this offence is calculated by the following formula:
Maximum fine for severe risk breach = $10,790 (base penalty) + $540 per 1% over the 20% overload (additional penalty)
(but capped so the total fine is no more than $33,640)
Confused? We don’t blame you, it’s not an easy way to do things. An example can make things clearer.
Josh is driving a truck with a 42 tonne mass limit. He’s 30% over mass, i.e. 54.6 tonnes.
To work out his maximum penalty, we first work out what his “additional penalty” is. We need to work how many percentage points he’s over 20%. In this case it’s 10 (30%-20%). Then we times that by $540. So 10 x $540 = $5,400.
Now we add that the base penalty to the additional penalty. In this case $10,790 + $5,400 = $16,190.
So the maximum penalty available to the Court is $16,190.
The final thing to remember is that there is lots of room to reduce the fine from the maximum penalty amount. The magistrate will consider why the breach occurred, the impact of any fine, your record and what you have done to avoid another breach in the future. Preparing your case well makes a huge difference to the final outcome. If you’re ever in doubt don’t hesitate to give us a call. We’re always happy to help.