E-briefing: Road Traffic Offences
Road Traffic Offences
Road traffic offences in Singapore are governed by the Road Traffic Act (Cap 27) (“RTA”). Under section 42 of the RTA, the Court is be empowered to disqualify an offender from holding or obtaining a driving licence for life or for such period as the Court deems fit, except where otherwise expressly provided.
Where an offender is disqualified from driving for a period of less than one year, his licence will be suspended. Where the disqualification period is for one year or longer, the offender will have to re-take and pass the necessary driving tests to re-obtain his licence.
Some common offences under the RTA and their prescribed punishments are set out below.
Under section 63 RTA, it is unlawful for a person to drive a motor vehicle of any class or description at a speed greater than any speed which may be prescribed as the maximum speed in relation to a vehicle of that class or description. An offender may be prosecuted in court, and punished with a fine, and/or suspension of their licence. The quantum of fine and duration of suspension may vary in accordance with the speed at which an offender was travelling at the material time.
- Reckless or Dangerous Driving
Under section 64 RTA, a person guilty of the offence of driving a motor vehicle on a road in a reckless manner which is dangerous to the public, taking into account the nature, condition and the use of the road, including the traffic at that point of time, will be liable for a fine of up to S$3,000 or an imprisonment for a term up to 12 months or both. He may also face disqualification of his licence, pursuant to section 64(3) RTA.
For a second or subsequent conviction, an offender will be liable for a fine not exceeding S$5,000 or an imprisonment for a term up to 2 years or both and disqualification of his license.
A person found guilty of abetting the offence may also have his licence disqualified if it is proved that he was present in the motor vehicle at the time of the offence.
- Driving without Due Care or Reasonable Consideration
Pursuant to section 65 RTA, a person who drives a motor vehicle on the road without due care or attention or without proper consideration for other road users shall be guilty of an offence. The offender will be liable for a fine of up to S$1,000 or an imprisonment for a term up to 6 months or both. For second or subsequent conviction, the offender will be liable for a fine not exceeding S$2,000 or an imprisonment for a term up to 12 months or both.
- Use of a Mobile Communication Device while Driving
The driver of a motor vehicle who uses a mobile communication device while driving a motor vehicle in motion on a road or in a public place is guilty of an offence under s65(B) RTA. Mobile communication devices would necessarily include handphones / mobile phones, or any hand-held device designed or capable of being used for a communicative function. An offender would be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding S$1,000.00 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or to both.
A repeat offender may be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding S$2,000.00 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months, or both.
What Happens Next?
You will be charged in Court. At this stage, you may choose to claim trial or plead guilty. You may also seek an adjournment to write a letter of appeal (called a “letter of representations”) to the Attorney General’s Chambers requesting that the charge(s) against you be withdrawn, reduced, or taken into consideration. You may wish to engage a lawyer to assist you with drafting and submission of the letter of representations.
Depending on the outcome of your appeal, you may be charged under the same sections of the RTA, under a section with a lower prescribed punishment, or have some charges taken into consideration. Having a charge taken into consideration means that you will not be sentenced for that particular charge, but the sentences of your other charges may be calibrated upwards to account for the separate offence.
In exceptional circumstances, the charge(s) against you may be withdrawn.
You may then enter your plea. Should you wish to plead guilty, you will have to prepare submissions on mitigation and sentencing for the Court to explain the mitigating circumstances surrounding the offence. You may wish to have a lawyer assist you with preparation and submission of this document.
Alternatively, should you decide to claim trial, the Court will set trial dates on which you (and your lawyer, if any) will have to attend at Court to defend yourself.
Once you are sentenced, you may pay your fine (if any) at the Court. If your licence is suspended, you will have to surrender it to the Traffic Police within 7 days of sentencing.
Senior Legal Associate, Eversheds Harry Elias