Defence strategy sees driver retain licence with no conviction recorded

Defence strategy sees driver retain licence with no conviction recorded

In November 2023, we represented a member of the United Workers Union (‘UWU’) in relation to a charge of driving across double unbroken lines to make a U-turn in New South Wales. The charge could have seen a penalty of three demerit points and a fine if convicted. On 15 November 2023, the Court dismissed the charge without recording a conviction, alternatively choosing to issue a conditional release order despite the UWU member pleading guilty.

What is a conditional release order?

A conditional release order, often referred to as a CRO, is a sentencing option available to the Court in NSW. It requires you to not commit any further offences for a period of time set out in the CRO.

Conditional release orders came into effect in 2018, effectively replacing good behaviour bonds. A CRO can be imposed with a conviction or without a conviction.

Background that led to the traffic violation

In August 2023, the UWU member, while driving their car, completed a “U-turn” across double lines. The maximum penalty for this offence included three demerit points and fine options.

An accrual of three demerit points by our client at this time would have resulted in them losing their licence for several months. A loss of licence would have had terrible consequences for our client, including the fact that our client requires their licence for their job. Our client also transported their young child to appointments in areas where it was difficult to rely on public transport.

Our defence strategy

It was our case that the Court should:

  1. dismiss the charge under section 10(1)(a) of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 (Sentencing Act); or, if the Court did not accept this submission;
  2. discharge our client under section 10(1)(b) of the Sentencing Act under a conditional release order.

Meaning of dismissing

This is when the Court makes an order to dismiss a proven charge without imposing a penalty or recording a conviction.

Meaning of discharging

This is when the Court discharges a person under a conditional release order without recording a conviction or imposing any other penalty.

In preparing a defence, we ensured that our client had strong character references. This included a reference from their employer which highlighted:

  • our client’s work ethic;
  • the importance of having a licence for their job; and
  • their remorse.

Remorse was also highlighted in a reference from our client’s partner together with detailing how our client needed a licence to drive their child to appointments.

Additionally, we ensured that our client had completed the traffic offender’s intervention program.

In relation to the driving offence, we relied on the following factors:

  • the offence was a momentary lapse in judgment;
  • the offence was not in “peak hour” traffic;
  • our client thought that the road ahead was closed and was stressed about being late to work;
  • our client pleaded guilty at the first available opportunity;
  • our client is of good character;
  • our client was very remorseful;
  • our client needed a licence to work; and
  • our client needed a licence to undertake important carer responsibilities.

Court orders conditional release order, and no conviction recorded

The Court gave considerable weight to our client’s character references. In particular, the Court noted our client’s strong work ethic, the need for a licence (to work and be a carer) and that they were of good character.

When weighed against the harsh impact of a conviction, the Court was persuaded by these factors. Accordingly, the Court discharged our client under a conditional release order meaning our client avoided conviction and kept their licence without penalty.

Given the Magistrate, at the outset, observed the seriousness of the offence, this was a significant win for our client who was delighted with the outcome.


This case shows that workers who are charged after making a mistake on our roads can still pursue a lawful avenue to potentially avoid a career-threatening penalty.

When defending a traffic charge and/or seeking to avoid a conviction or penalty, a carefully considered legal strategy is vital to ensure the Court is persuaded that this is the appropriate outcome.

If you’ve been charged with traffic offences that you wish to contest or other criminal offences, you should seek advice early from a lawyer experienced in criminal and traffic law.

Contacting Hall Payne Lawyers

You can contact us by phone or email to arrange your consultation; either face-to-face at one of our offices, by telephone or by videoconference consultation.

Phone: 1800 659 114

  This article relates to Australian law; either at a State or Federal level.

The information contained on this site is for general guidance only. No person should act or refrain from acting on the basis of such information. Appropriate professional advice should be sought based upon your particular circumstances. For further information, please do not hesitate to contact Hall Payne Lawyers.

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