Criminal Law
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Summer Safety: Staying on the Right Side of the Law

It is important to remember that laws and regulations can vary between states and territories in Australia, so individuals should be aware of the specific rules and regulations that apply to their location.

Driving Offences and Traffic Violations

The surge in holiday travel and the popularity of road trips, combined with the festive atmosphere, and sometimes adverse weather conditions, can all contribute to a disregard for traffic laws and safety precautions. The appeal of reaching one's destination more quickly may lead some individuals to exceed speed limits or make careless driving choices.

The Road Safety Act 1986 (Vic) regulates Driving Offences and the most common of these are:

- racing, going too fast, or driving aggressively;

- ignoring traffic lights and other road signs; and

- overtaking dangerously.

Drinking and Driving Offences

The Festive Season can also lead to an increase in driving under the influence of drink or drugs, including prescription drugs.

A person is found guilty of an offence if he or she drives a motor vehicle or is in charge of a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or of any drug to such an extent as to be incapable of having proper control of the motor vehicle: S.49 (1) (a), Road Safety Act 1986 (Vic).

Alcohol-Related Incidents

The increase in social events during summer can unfortunately result in a rise in alcohol-related incidents such as public intoxication, underage drinking, and disruptive behaviour stemming from excessive alcohol consumption. These behaviours, in turn, may contribute to a higher occurrence of assaults, fights, and violence at public events, parties, and recreational areas. Additionally, the use and possession of illegal drugs can lead to drug-related offences.

It is an offence for a licensee or permittee to supply liquor to a person in a state of intoxication. It is an offence to permit drunken or disorderly persons to be on any licensed premises: S.108(4)(a)(b) Liquor Control Reform Act 1998 (Vic).

Noise Complaints

With the prevalence of outdoor gatherings, parties, and events, it is also not uncommon for neighbours to voice their concerns through noise complaints. In response, local noise regulations may be more strictly enforced to maintain peace and harmony in the community.

It is an offence to make unreasonable noise from a residence. A residential property includes any land, building or outbuilding used in connection with a residence: S.167 Environmental Protection Act 2017 (Vic).

Public Nuisance Offences

During the summer, crowded beaches, parks, and public spaces often lead to a rise in littering, public urination, and other forms of public nuisance offences.  In coastal areas, water safety and beach-related offences are common, including violations of surf lifesaving regulations, swimming in prohibited areas, and reckless behaviour in the water.

A person must not cause a nuisance; or knowingly allow or suffer a nuisance to exist on, or emanate from, any land owned or occupied by that person. A person is not guilty of an offence under subsection (1)(b) if the person had a lawful excuse for knowingly allowing or suffering a nuisance to exist on, or emanate from, any land owned or occupied by that person: S.61 Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 (Vic).

Throughout the bushfire season, there are regulations and restrictions in place regarding ignition sources and controlled burning activities. One significant concern during this time is the deliberate act of arson, where individuals intentionally set fires with malicious intent or negligence. By imposing these restrictions and enhancing vigilance, authorities aim to protect both the natural environment and the safety of communities residing in fire-prone regions during this critical period.

Arson is a criminal offence, carrying a likely term of imprisonment if found guilty. Arson causing criminal damage offences are:

• Arson causing criminal damage belonging to another or themself

• Arson causing criminal damage endangering life

• Arson causing criminal damage with a view to gain (s197(3): S.197(1)(2)(3) Crimes Act 1958 (Vic).


During the holiday period, property crimes such as burglaries and thefts tend to increase, especially from unoccupied homes while residents are away. Criminals take advantage of the festive atmosphere and the fact that many people are away from their homes, making it an opportune time for illegal activities.

Under S. 9(1)(e ) of the Summary Offences Act 1966 (Vic), a person commits an offence if they enter a private place or a scheduled public place without authority from the owner or occupier or for a legitimate purpose. The maximum penalty is a fine of 25 penalty units or imprisonment for six months.

Under S.76 of the Crimes Act 1958  (Vic), a person commits burglary if they enter a building as a trespasser with the intent to steal, or to commit an offence involving an assault or damage to property that is punishable by imprisonment for five years or more.  Burglary is a serious offence punishable with a maximum of 10 years imprisonment.

Under S.77 of the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic), a person commits an aggravated burglary if they commit a burglary whilst in possession of a firearm, offensive weapon or explosive or while there was a person present in the building entered and the accused knew or were reckless as to whether there was a person present. Aggravated burglary is punishable by a maximum of 25 years imprisonment.

If you would like to discuss any of these issues, the Litigation team will be happy to assist on 9870 9870.


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