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Even if you’re an experienced driver, road laws are constantly changing, and it can be hard to stay up to date. Adding to this, each state and territory has slightly different road rules and regulations that can easily catch out interstate drivers. Even if by accident, you are still liable for a fine or demerit points if caught breaking a road rule. In this article, we outline three new road laws you should know, and how they change as you travel around Australia.
Slow Down Requirement When Passing Emergency Vehicles

Drivers in New South Wales, Western Australia, Victoria, and South Australia are now required to slow down when passing stationary emergency vehicles, tow trucks, and breakdown assistance vehicles displaying flashing lights.

If you’re driving on a road with a speed limit of 80km/hr you’ll need to slow down to 40km/hr, while on roads with higher speed limits you are required to slow to a speed that is “reasonable for the circumstances.” In South Australia even stricter laws apply, and you’ll have to slow down to 25km/hr when in the service zone of an emergency vehicle.

You will also need to keep sufficient space between your car and the vehicle displaying flashing lights, and keep the lane next to the vehicle free if it’s possible to do so. The penalty for failing to follow this rule can be seen by state below:

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State Penalty
NSW Fine: $448
Demerits points: 3
VIC Fine: $272.05
WA Fine: $300
Demerits points: 3
SA Dependant on speed over 25km/hr when going past vehicle
Crackdown on Illegal Parking in Disabled Parking Bays

Most drivers know that parking in a disabled spot is against the law, but some still consider it an option for quick trips such as popping into the shops. In an effort to prevent this from happening, Queensland increased the fine for illegally parking in disabled parking bays from $266 to $533.

As part of this change, Queensland has widened their disability parking permit criteria, which now includes many people who are vision impaired. This brings Queensland into line with other locations such as New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory.

Here’s the fine for parking in a disabled parking bay without a disabled parking permit by location:

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State or Territory Fine
ACT $600
NSW $572
QLD $533
SA $450
TAS $168
VIC $165
NT $135
WA $120
Harsher Penalties for Low Range Drink Driving

It’s important to make sure you’re under the limit before you get behind the wheel. Under the new Road Safety Plan, New South Wales made penalties tougher for low range drink drivers with blood alcohol concentrations between 0.05 and 0.08.

Under the Road Safety Plan, police can suspend your driver’s licence immediately if you’re over the legal limit of 0.05, even if it is your first offence. This aligns New South Wales with Victoria and Tasmania, where low range drink driving can result in a licence suspension of up to three months, even for a first offence.

These laws are significantly harsher than the remaining states and territories, where suspensions longer than 24-hours for low range drink driving must be ordered by a Court, and cannot be given out on the spot by police.

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The information in this article is current as of the 23rd of April 2021. Laws and penalties may have changed since this article was created.
Please note the information in this article is general in nature and does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any decisions based on this article

The information above comes from the following sources:

VicRoads, Law Enforcement and Emergency Vehicles, viewed April 2021, https://www.vicroads.vic.gov.au/safety-and-road-rules/road-rules/a-to-z-of-road-rules/law-enforcement-and-emergency-vehicles

News.com.au, New 40km/h road rule in effect from today across NSW, viewed April 2021, https://www.news.com.au/technology/innovation/motoring/on-the-road/new-40kmh-road-rule-in-effect-from-today-across-nsw/news-story/d1bacb6543867f41df891c4eeb380a40

Roadrules WA, Emergency Vehicles, viewed April 2021, 

Police SA, Expiable Offences and Fees - Traffic, viewed April 2021, https://www.police.sa.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/370573/PD320A-Expiable-Offences-and-Fees-Traffic.pdf

ABC News, Can I drive under coronavirus restrictions? Can I travel to my holiday home? What are the penalties for breaking the rules?, viewed April 2021, https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-04-10/the-rules-of-driving-during-coronavirus/12132208

News.com.au, Qld drivers to cop increased fine for illegally parking in disabled parking bays, viewed April 2021, https://www.news.com.au/technology/innovation/motoring/on-the-road/qld-drivers-to-cop-increased-fine-for-illegally-parking-in-disabled-parking-bays/news-story/4f78106910f165e4c8e0d64d8de9d70f

NSW Government, Drink Driving Reforms for Lower Range Offences, viewed April 2021, https://www.rms.nsw.gov.au/roads/safety-rules/demerits-offences/suspension-disqualification/drink-driving-reforms-low-range-offences/index.html

VicRoads, Safety and Road Rules, viewed April 2021, https://www.vicroads.vic.gov.au/safety-and-road-rules/road-rules/penalties

Queensland Government, Being Charged with Drink Driving, viewed April 2021, https://www.qld.gov.au/transport/safety/road-safety/drink-driving/charged

Tasmanian Government, Disqualifications (loss of entitlement to drive), viewed April 2021, https://www.transport.tas.gov.au/licensing/demerits_and_offences/disqualifications,_suspensions_and_cancellations

Aboriginal Road Safety and Driver Licensing Program https://www.dpti.sa.gov.au/ontherighttrack/driving_safely/look_out_for_other_road_users/emnergency_services_vehicles 

This article has been prepared by Allianz Australia Insurance Limited ABN 15 000 122 850 AFSL 234708 (“Allianz”). Information contained in this article is accurate as at 23rd April 2021 and may be subject to change. In some cases information has been provided to us by third parties and while that information is believed to be accurate and reliable, its accuracy is not guaranteed in any way. Any opinions expressed constitute our views at the time of issue and are subject to change. Neither Allianz, nor its employees or directors give any warranty of accuracy or accept responsibility for any loss or liability incurred by you in respect of any error, omission or misrepresentation in this article.

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