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What to Do If the Police Declare Your Car as Unroadworthy

Having your car declared unroadworthy is more common than you might believe. Whether it’s a defect notice or a ‘canary’ for unroadworthiness, VicRoads reports that approximately 48,000 are processed each year through Victoria alone.

With this in mind, it’s important to understand what steps need to be taken should you find yourself in this position. Continuing to drive without resolving your defect could lead to serious repercussions – especially if you have an accident.

In this blog, u-Law provide details on how you may be issued a defect, along with the types of notices and the steps you need to take to have it cleared. Keep reading to find out more.

How a defect notice is issued

As per the Road Safety Act 1986, a police officer or an authorised person may, in accordance with regulations, on discovering a vehicle that does not comply with this Act or regulations:

  • Issue a warning or a vehicle defect notice, or
  • Impose conditions on the use of the vehicle, or
  • Prohibit the use of the vehicle

Depending on the severity and type of defect will determine what type of notice or conditions will be issued.

Vehicle use following a defect notice

Regardless of the type of defect, vehicle use is often restricted once one has been issued. According to VicRoads, you car must not be used on a highway, road or road-related area after the time and date specified on the defect notice. If the items on the notice are not rectified within 28 days from the date of issue, your registration may be suspended.

If your car has been repaired and your registration hasn’t been suspended, you can drive your car for the following reasons:

  • To take it from the place of repair to a licensed tester
  • To examine it and test it
  • To return it after it has been tested
  • To take it to VicRoads to be inspected or to have the defect notice cleared

However, this only applies if the repairs were completed within 28 days of the issue and your registration has not been suspended. The only exception is where it is being used by a Licensed Vehicle Tester for the purpose of examination and testing. Otherwise you must tow your car until the defect is cleared and your registration is renewed.

Clearing the defect

After fixing the items specified on your defect notice, you’ll need to either present the vehicle to VicRoads for an inspection or get a Certificate of Roadworthiness. A fee will apply for both. Which one is required depends upon what is stated on the defect notice.

Certificate of Roadworthiness

If you require a Certificate of Roadworthiness, you can get one from an authorised Roadworthy Tester. The certificate must be current and valid, and issued after the date and time of issue of the defect notice. Before your defect label can be removed, you must receive confirmation from VicRoads that the certificate has been accepted.

VicRoads inspection

If you only need to present your car to VicRoads, you can do so at a Customer Service Centre. It’s important you make sure the one you go to is able to provide the inspection for your type of vehicle. While you don’t need to make an appointment, you may need to provide receipts or other evidence of repair. If all the items on your defect notice have been addressed, VicRoads will authorise the removal of your defect label.

Other types of notices

Most commonly in Victoria, defect notices are issued by the police, however there are several other types you may receive. What type you are issued depends on the type of defect your car has, where the notice was issued and who issued it.

Some other types include:

  • Excessive noise defects: Issued by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) under Section 55AC (1) of the Environment Protection Act 1970. You must present the car at a location specified by the EPA on the defect notice, not at VicRoads.
  • Emission defect notices: Also issued by the EPA. You must contact the Motor Vehicle Emission Unit on (03) 9695 2700.
  • Interstate defect notices: If you’re issued a defect notice from interstate, you must present the vehicle as directed on the notice. Whether you require a Certificate of Roadworthiness (or equivalent) will determine where you need to present the vehicle.
  • Heavy vehicle or heavy trailer defects: A current and original Certificate of Roadworthiness (or equivalent, depending on the jurisdiction) must be provided to VicRoads for this defect to be cleared.
  • Formal warnings: You must address the parts of the vehicle that require action as directed, however you don’t need to get a Certificate of Roadworthiness or present the vehicle for inspection.

What happens if you drive an unroadworthy car?

If you drive an unroadworthy car, not only are you putting yourself at risk of a fine should you be caught by police, you’re also putting other road users at risk. Defects are issued due to serious problems with the car that could be dangerous on the road. If you have an accident while driving a car with a defect notice, your insurance provider may refuse your cover as well, which potentially cost you thousands of dollars.

It’s recommended you follow the steps requested on the defect notice as quickly as possible, however if you’re uncertain about the notice, or if you do find yourself in an accident, u-Law are here to help. We can provide further information specific to your situation. Best of all, we can drive to you! Contact us today on 1300 166 022 to learn more.

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