… currently going through the registration process for registration as a Paramedic received an email from one of our “Registration Ambassadors” checking up on our progress and also advising, – “A note also – if you have any “criminal history” include it – this includes simple traffic/ speeding fines!”
I’ve also been a Registered Nurse for nearly 20 years. I was under the impression perhaps wrongly that speeding fines were not criminal offences and have not declared (again perhaps incorrectly) two <15kmh over the speed limit fines from before I was registered as a nurse.
My question is are speeding fines “criminal” offences and do they need to be declared during AHPRA registration or re-registration as per the above AHPRA statement.
Both the Paramedicine Board of Australia, Registration Standard: Criminal History (17 May 2018) and the AHPRA Registered Health Practitioners Registration Standard: Criminal History (1 July 2015), which applies to nurses say:
Criminal history is defined in the National Law as:
- every conviction of the person for an offence, in a participating jurisdiction or elsewhere, and whether before or after the commencement of this Law
- every plea of guilty or finding of guilt by a court of the person for an offence, in a participating jurisdiction or elsewhere, and whether before or after the commencement of this Law and whether or not a conviction is recorded for the offence, and
- every charge made against the person for an offence, in a participating jurisdiction or elsewhere, and whether before or after the commencement of this Law.
(See Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, s 5).
My correspondents traffic infringement notices were issued in Victoria. Traffic Infringement notices are issued under the Road Safety Act 1986 (Vic) and the Infringements Act 2006 (Vic). Under the Road Safety Act an authorised officer can issue an infringement notice (s 88). Payment of the fine acts to ‘expiate’ the alleged offence (Infringements Act 2006 (Vic) s 32). Where an offence is expiated, s 33 says:
(a) no further proceedings may be taken against the person on whom the notice was served in respect of the offence; and
(b) no conviction is to be taken to have been recorded against that person for the offence.
Further, payment of the penalty (s 33(2)):
… is not and must not be taken to be—
(a) an admission of guilt in relation to the offence;
There are exceptions to this rule. This rule does not apply to drink-driving infringements, drug-driving infringements or excessive speed infringements. Payment of those infringements does equate to a conviction (Road Safety Act 1986 (Vic) s 89A).
The point of infringement notices is to give a short cut to legal proceedings. A police or other authorised officer who detects an offence has the option of prosecuting the alleged offender. Criminal offences are heard in the Magistrates Court. For routine offences, such as traffic matters, this is time consuming, expensive and a waste of everyone’s resources, so an alternative is created. Rather than require the accused to appear at court the authorised officer can issue an infringement notice setting out the allegation. A person who receives an infringement notice but who denies that they are guilty can elect to have the matter put before the court where the normal rules of criminal law apply – the prosecution must prove the accused’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt. Alternatively the alleged offender can pay the prescribed fine and that is the end of the matter but because the matter has not been heard by a court, and recognising that many fines will be paid simply because defending the case is literally more effort than it’s worth, the payment of a fine does not equal an admission of guilt and is not a criminal conviction. The record of the fine and any associated demerit points will appear on the accused’s driving record, but not criminal record.
If we return to the definition of Criminal history referred to in the Paramedic Registration Standard and the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law:
- paying a traffic infringement notice is not a ‘conviction of the person for an offence…’ (Infringements Act 2006 (Vic) s 33(1)(b))].
- paying a traffic infringement notice is not a ‘plea of guilty [Infringements Act 2006 (Vic) s 33(2)(a)] or finding of guilt by a court; and
- in the absence of an election to go to court, is not a ‘charge made against the person for an offence’ [Infringements Act 2006 (Vic) s 40].
A traffic offence that is dealt with by way of payment of a traffic infringement notice in Victoria is not part of the applicant’s criminal history as defined by the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, the Paramedicine Board of Australia, Registration Standard: Criminal History (17 May 2018) or the AHPRA Registered Health Practitioners Registration Standard: Criminal History (1 July 2015).