Driving/Road Traffic Offences
Driving/Road Traffic Offences
The main legislation governing road traffic offences is found in the Road Traffic Ordinance, Chapter 374. Here you will find the law on, amongst other things, dangerous driving; drink-driving/breathalysers; careless driving; speeding; failing to stop; failing to report; driving licences; vehicle licences; causing death by dangerous driving; and notices requiring identification of the driver. Other ordinances, though, govern for instance the disqualification of a driver by accumulation of points, the insurance requirements of drivers, or summonses for failure to pay parking fines. Many clients when first arrested do not fully understand their position and potential liabilities. We have extensive experience in advising on all aspects of road traffic law and in defending clients in these types of matters. We can assist from the time of arrest through to any court hearing. If charged, most defendants will face a hearing in the Magistrates Courts but for more serious offences, such as causing death by dangerous driving, the Prosecution will often apply for the case to be heard in the District Court. It is essential to have proper and sensible advice on how and whether to assist the Police in their enquiries at the preliminary stages of an investigation, and sensible advice on the evidence should the matter go to court. We will advise you on any available defences and possible penalties, the likely costs involved and the time frame to completion if you are faced with a driving or road traffic charge or summons. All our lawyers have experience in these matters and can advise you from roadside arrest to court. The most common offences that we deal with are:
Careless driving is driving without due care and attention or without reasonable consideration for others using the road. It can cover a whole host of situations from the most minor momentary inadvertence to more deliberate acts.
If a person drives dangerously and that dangerous driving causes the death of another person. This is a serious matter and can result in a term of imprisonment of up to 10 years. .
A person drives dangerously if the way he/she drives falls far below what would be expected of a competent driver and it would be obvious to a competent and careful driver that driving in that way would be dangerous. It carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 3 years.
The prescribed limits of alcohol for a person who drives a motor vehicle are 22 micrograms of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath; 50 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood; or 67 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of urine. For a first offence disqualification from driving is 6 months for Tier 1 (below 35mcg in 100 ml of breath), 1 year for Tier 2 (below 66mcg in 100 ml of breath) and 2 years for Tier 3 (more than 66mcg of 100 ml of breath). For a second or subsequent offence disqualification for 2 years for Tier 1, 3 years for Tier 2 and 5 years for Tier 3 unless there are special reasons to make the period of disqualification shorter or not at all. The severity of the penalty will be affected if the drink driving is coupled with another driving offence e.g. careless driving and more so if there is any resulting injury to persons as a result of that driving.
There are various degrees of speeding. Sometimes a speeding offence is dealt with by a fixed penalty ticket issued by the Police. The more serious cases involving driving at faster speeds often end up in court. A person who is proven to have driven at a speed exceeding the speed limit by more than 45km an hour is mandatorily disqualified for a minimum of 6 months unless there are special reasons not to. We have defended people who are alleged to have been speeding where the evidence ingathered by the Police is from a hand held “laser gun” measuring device. Sometimes this evidence can be challenged with the assistance of experts.
If you are involved in a road traffic matter with the Police, the Police will often ask to see your policy if insurance. Indeed if the Police require you to produce the insurance policy it is an offence not to show it to them. It is not lawful to drive a vehicle, or to permit any other person to drive a vehicle if there is no third party risks policy covering the driver. If convicted of this offence the court will disqualify you from driving for between 1-3 years unless there are special reasons not to.
If you have been ordered not to drive by a court it is an offence to drive during the period of disqualification. If convicted there is a maximum fine of HK$10,000, imprisonment of 12 months, and disqualification from driving for 12 months for a first offence. If convicted again the disqualification period is 3 years or more.
If you are involved in a traffic accident or if a police officer reasonably suspects you have been drink driving and you are asked to provide a specimen of breath and do not provide one and don’t have a reasonable excuse, this may give rise to a charge under the above section.
If the screening breath specimen indicates excessive breath alcohol (or if you fail to provide a screening specimen) the Police can ask you to provide breath, blood or urine specimens.
Obligations to stop and remain at the scene (and give your particulars) arise when there has been an accident and people are injured or damage is caused to another vehicle. Obligations to report an accident to the Police arise when there has been a vehicle damaged.
If the Police suspect that a vehicle has been involved in a road traffic offence (e.g. from a snapshot from a roadside camera) the Police can send a Notice to the registered owner of that vehicle demanding that the driver be identified. If, in spite of your best efforts, you are unable to find out who was driving the vehicle at the material time, you may have a defence.
The above emergency hotline is intended for clients who are in need of urgent legal representation outwith office hours.
During office hours, we encourage you to make an appointment for an initial consultation. You can either call one of our lawyers directly or e-mail us your contact details with a brief description of the nature of your enquiry. We will contact you shortly after receipt of your enquiry.
All information contained in our entire website is strictly for informational purposes only, it is neither legal advice nor a substitute for legal advice.