Car News

Ute owners targeted, can lose licence with heavy fines

New laws introduced in South Australia have been met with confusion as many motorists face losing their licence and paying expensive fines.

More than one hundred tradies and ute drivers have been fined and some could lose their licence after being stung by new laws brought in to specifically target trucks and buses.

Outrage from many of the affected motorists has been pegged at lawmakers for going after the wrong cars and not educating the public on the drastic change.

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The related fines have been handed out to drivers of utes on South Australia’s South Eastern Freeway near Adelaide. The speed limit for cars is 90km/h, but the recent change in legislation sets the speed limit for trucks and buses to 60km/h. However, the 60km/h speed limit has been applied to drivers of utes, even if they are not classified as trucks on the rego papers.

The South Australian Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure website says that, “A maximum 60km/h speed limit applies to all trucks and buses from the Crafers interchange to the bottom of the freeway. The speed limit for all other vehicles is 90km/h and drivers should remember to always drive according to the prevailing road conditions.”

The department body further states that:

“All vehicles classed as a truck or bus will be subject to the new laws on the South Eastern Freeway down-track from 1 May 2019.

“Under the Australian Road Rules:

“A Truck is a motor vehicle with a Gross Vehicles Mass (GVM) of more than 4.5 tonnes, regardless of the body type of the vehicle (excluding tractors, trams and buses).”

However, this does not reflect how the fines are being handed out.

One owner of a Ford F-350 pickup whose car is registered as a ute and falls under the weight limit of a heavy vehicle will still lose his licence for six months.

“The law is aimed at heavy vehicles but mine is not a heavy vehicle,” Boardman told The Sunday Mail. “The sign clearly says truck or buses but my rego papers say I’m a ute.

“It is supposed to stop d***head truck drivers coming down there too fast in heavy vehicles.”

According to The Sunday Mail, at least 100 drivers of utes have been fined and will challenge the infringements, but not all will win. One driver has received nine fines and faces being disqualified from driving for 18 months.

Many of the drivers face a $1036 fine, six demerit points and automatic licence disqualification of up to six months. Drivers who appeal the fine in court face a 12-month licence disqualification if unsuccessful.

It’s clear there is confusion from motorists as to what the law on the South Eastern Freeway is, and traffic lawyer Karen Stanley added that there was a lack of education from the government.

“It is clear there was not sufficient driver education so that all drivers knew which vehicles were affected.”

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Alex Rae

Alex Rae

Alex Rae grew up among some of the great stages of Targa Tasmania, an event that sparked his passion for all things mechanical. Currently living across Bass Strait in Melbourne, Alex has worked for the last decade in the automotive world as both a photographer and journalist, and is now a freelancer for various publications. When not driving for work Alex can be found tinkering in the shed on of one his project Zeds or planning his next gravel rally car.