Charged with a Traffic Offence in Singapore: What to Do
The number of traffic offences committed in Singapore have been constantly high.
In 2016, 4,532 traffic violations were recorded, with more people caught breaking traffic laws in the first 9 months of 2016, almost triple that of the same period in 2015.
Traffic rules are strictly enforced and violations often come with severe penalties to deter drivers from driving irresponsibly.
In this article, we address some commonly asked questions about road traffic offences in Singapore and explain what you should do in the event you are charged with committing one.
What are Some Common Traffic Offences?
Road traffic offences in Singapore are governed by the Road Traffic Act (RTA). The RTA also regulates road traffic, the use of vehicles, and the users of roads in Singapore.
Common road traffic offences in Singapore include:
Exceeding the speed limit
Under section 63 of the RTA, it is an offence for any person to drive a motor vehicle of any class or description, on a road at a speed greater than what is prescribed as the maximum speed in relation to a vehicle of that class or description.
Reckless or dangerous driving
Causing death by reckless or dangerous driving
Under section 66 of the RTA, a person who causes the death of another by driving a motor vehicle in a reckless manner, or at a speed which is dangerous to the public, is guilty of an offence.
Driving without due care or reasonable consideration
Under section 65 of the RTA, it is an offence to drive a motor vehicle on a road without due care and attention, or without reasonable consideration for other road users.
Use of mobile phone while driving
According to section 65B of the RTA, a driver of a motor vehicle who uses a mobile communication device while the motor vehicle is in motion on a road or in a public place is guilty of an offence.
The use of a mobile communication device includes, but is not limited to, using a handphone or any hand-held device to send or receive oral or written messages, or access the internet.
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
Under section 67 of the RTA, it is an offence for a person to drive or attempt to drive while under the influence of alcohol, a drug or of an intoxicating substance that makes the person incapable of having proper control of his vehicle.
In addition, any person who has alcohol levels in his body that exceed the prescribed limits is guilty of an offence under this section.
The prescribed limits are:
- 35 microgrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath
- 80 milligrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood
Road Traffic Offences vs Vehicle-Related Offences
It is important to note that road traffic offences under the RTA are different from vehicle-related offences that are governed by the Land Transport Authority (LTA).
LTA’s offences are focused on managing road usage, while offences governed under the RTA focus on unsafe driving and ensuring drivers practice safe driving habits.
Common vehicle-related offences include:
- Driving in the bus lane during these lanes’ operating hours;
- Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) violations;
- Illegal parking; and
- Illegal vehicle modifications.
How can I Check If I have been Charged with a Traffic Offence?
You can check the details of a traffic offence using the Electronic Driver Data Information & Enquiry System (EDDIES).
Do note that EDDIES only reflects records of outstanding traffic notice of offences that have been issued by the Traffic Police.
If you are being investigated for a traffic offence but have not been charged with a traffic offence, this will not be recorded in EDDIES.
To log in to EDDIES, you will need to use either of the following:
- NRIC/FIN and Photocard Licence Serial number; or
- Foreign Registered Vehicle Number.
The system will generate the records of any outstanding traffic offences automatically.
What Happens If I have been Charged with a Traffic Offence?
Payment of fine
Minor traffic offence with a composition of fine
You will receive a Notice of Traffic Offence stating the offence that you have been charged with.
If the offence is considered to be minor, the notice will specify an “offer of composition”. This means that the notice will state a sum of money which you can pay to settle the notice without going to court.
Payment of the fine can be made through various payment channels. Further information on the methods of payment are available at the Singapore Police Force’s (SPF) website.
Minor traffic offence without an offer of composition
For minor traffic offences where there is no offer of composition, you will receive a Notice to Attend Court.
This means that you must attend Traffic Court on the date stated in your traffic notice. The offence will be heard before a judge in the Traffic Court on the appointed date.
After your court appearance, you will be given a Payment Advice by the Court Officer. You can use the Payment Advice to make payment at the Automated Collection System (ACS) kiosks located in the Finance Section and Crime Registry at Level 1 of the State Courts.
Serious traffic offence without an offer of composition
For serious traffic offences where death or injury has been caused, there is no offer of composition.
Serious traffic offences may include driving rashly or negligently, and are classified as arrestable offences under the Penal Code (unlike minor traffic offences without an offer of composition).
This means that on arrival at the scene of the offence, the police is empowered to arrest you without a warrant, and will follow the arrest procedure while doing so.
Once you are arrested and detained under police custody, you will be asked to give your statement to the police while they investigate your offence.
After 48 hours, you will make your first appearance at the Criminal Mentions Court, located at the State Courts.
At this stage, you will be formally charged with the offence and are advised to hire a criminal defence lawyer who would be able to advise you on the relevant procedures and consequences should you wish to admit to the charge or dispute it.
Will I need to hire a lawyer?
If the offence is minor and there is an offer of composition, there is no need to hire a lawyer. You can pay the composition stated on the notice without going to court.
However, if the offence is serious, you may either choose to claim trial to contest the charge, or not contest the charge and plead guilty to the offence in question.
You may wish to hire a lawyer to represent you in the matter and provide the relevant legal advice about the consequences, should you wish to plead guilty or claim trial.
You may also wish to hire a lawyer if you have been issued with a warrant of arrest. Warrants of arrest are usually issued if a person fails to appear in court for serious traffic offences, or there are criminal charges against him.
A lawyer would be able to advise you on the relevant procedures involved and assist in preparing you for your defence in these circumstances.
Can I Get a Traffic Offence Charge Withdrawn?
If you have in fact committed the road traffic offence that you have been charged with, it is not possible to have the charge withdrawn.
However, you may wish to make an appeal against the charge (see below).
How do I Appeal Against the Charge?
If you wish to appeal against your charge, you may make an appeal online through the Traffic e-Appeals Portal.
Do note that appeals will only be considered for medical emergencies and must be supported by relevant documentary proof, such as a doctor’s letter or medical report.
You will also need to provide the report reference number and a valid email address when lodging your appeal online.
What are the Charges for a Traffic Offence?
In general, persons who are charged with and convicted of traffic offences are liable to a fine and/or a term of imprisonment, depending on the seriousness of the offence and if there are any circumstances (personal or in relation to the commission of the offence) that warrant a reduction in the sentence.
The table below summarises the penalties under the RTA for some common road traffic offences in Singapore, as highlighted above:
Reckless or dangerous driving
A fine up to $5,000 and/or imprisonment for a term up to 12 months
The offender may also be disqualified from holding or obtaining a driving licence for either a period of time, or for life.
A fine up to $10,000 and/or to imprisonment for a term up to 2 years.
The offender will also be disqualified from holding or obtaining a driving licence for either a period of time or for life, unless the court is convinced that the offender has special reasons against disqualification.
Causing death by reckless or dangerous driving
|Imprisonment for a term up to 5 years.
Driving without due care or reasonable consideration and Use of mobile communication device while driving
A fine up to $1,000 and/or imprisonment for a term up to 6 months.
In the case of a second or subsequent conviction, to a fine up to $2,000 and/or to imprisonment for a term up to 12 months.
Driving while under influence of drink or drugs
A fine of at least $1,000 and up to $5,000 or to imprisonment for a term up to 6 months.
In the case of a second or subsequent conviction, to a fine of at least $3,000 and up to $10,000 and to imprisonment for a term up to 12 months.
The offender shall also be disqualified from holding or obtaining a driving licence for a period of at least 12 months.
Can my Licence be Suspended or Revoked?
Your licence may be suspended or revoked if you have accumulated the requisite amount of demerit points under the Driver Improvement Points System (DIPS).
Demerit points are given from a list of scheduled offences under the Road Traffic (DIPS) Rules.
For new or probationary drivers
If you accumulate 13 or more demerit points during the probationary period of 1 year, the driving licence can be revoked and become invalid.
The licence holder will have to retake all the necessary driving tests (theory and practical) in order to obtain a licence to drive or ride a motor vehicle again.
For non-probationary drivers
For non-probationary drivers who have no previous suspension record with the Traffic Police and have accumulated 24 or more demerit points within 24 consecutive months, their driving licences will be liable for a first suspension of 12 weeks.
For drivers who have previous suspension records and who accumulate 12 or more demerit points within 12 consecutive months, their driving licences will become liable for subsequent suspensions of up to 36 months.
Where the suspension period lasts a year or longer, his driving licence will become revoked and invalid. The licence holder will have to retake all the necessary driving tests before he can obtain his licence again.
Will My Charge Leave a Criminal Record?
Almost all road traffic offences under the RTA are deemed to be non-registrable offences. This means that if you have been charged with a road traffic offence, they will most likely not leave a criminal record.
However, your charge will go on your criminal record if the offence is a serious one involving death or injury.
What Do I Do If I have been Charged for an Offence Committed by a Friend/Relative Who was Using My Vehicle?
In these circumstances, it is important to ensure that you inform the Traffic Police immediately once you have received the Notice of Traffic Offence or Notice to Attend Court, to explain the circumstances of your case.
To do so, you can contact the Traffic Police Investigation Branch Call Centre.
Do note that it is an offence for you to take responsibility for an offence that has been committed by another individual, even if you have mutually agreed to do so for your friend or relative who has committed the offence.
Your friend or relative who actually committed the offence can be punished with the original traffic offence as well as for intentionally perverting the course of justice, which is punishable with a fine and/or a term of imprisonment of up to 7 years.
You may also be charged with the offence of giving false statements to public servants, if such false statements were given in the course of investigations about the offence in question.
We hope this article has addressed your queries and concerns about being charged with committing a traffic offence in Singapore.
As a driver, it is your duty to drive with care and caution and exercise good safety practices to continually ensure and improve safety on our roads for all road users.
Finally, if you are looking to contest your charge for a traffic offence, you are advised to get in touch with a criminal defence lawyer to assist you with your case.
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