Offence provisions

It is an offence under section 39 of the Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Act 2002 to refuse or fail to stop for the police.

It is also an offence to fail to stop a vehicle when the police are in pursuit under section 51B of the Crimes Act 1900.


What is ‘failure to stop’ for police?

The driver of a motor vehicle is required to stop driving if a police officer directs them to do so.

There are many circumstances in which police can ask someone to stop driving, including where they:

  • Suspect that they have grounds to arrest, detain or search, the driver or a passenger.
  • Suspect on reasonable grounds that the driver or a passenger has committed an offence.
  • Are conducting a random breath test or random oral fluid test.
  • Have established a road block.


What is ‘failure to stop during police pursuit’?

Failure to stop during a police pursuit occurs when a driver:

  • Knows or ought to know that police are pursuing their vehicle,
  • Does not stop the vehicle, and
  • Drives recklessly or at a speed in a way dangerous to others.

Driving recklessly does not require the driver to collide with another car or cause any harm to another individual. It may simply entail driving faster than the speed limit and taking corners too quickly.


Failure to stop penalties in NSW

If you are charged with failing to stop in NSW, the potential penalties include:


Failure to stop (standard offence)

PenaltyFirst offenceSubsequent offence
Maximum fine$5,500$5,500
Maximum years imprisonment12 months12 months


Failure to stop during police pursuit

PenaltyFirst offenceSubsequent offence
Maximum fine$110,000$110,000
Maximum term of imprisonment 3 years5 years
Minimum period of licence disqualification12 months2 years
Maximum period of licence disqualification3 years5 years


Consequences of conviction

If you are convicted of failing to stop for police, you will have this offence noted on your criminal record and have your licence disqualified.

The automatic disqualification period will apply unless the court makes a specific order. The court can disqualify your licence for any length of time within the minimum and maximum periods listed above.

These consequences can be avoided if the court applies section 10 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999.


Traffic Offender Intervention Program

The court may give a more lenient sentence to a person who participates in the Traffic Offender Intervention Program. This program covers traffic laws and rules, and the potential consequences of breaching the laws. When the course is finished, a certificate will be sent to the court and it can be taken into account in determining the sentence.


Frequently Asked Questions

In which court will failure to stop charges be heard?

Failure to stop for a police officer under section 39 of the Law Enforcement Act is heard at a Local Court before a magistrate.

Failure to stop when the police are in pursuit under section 51B of the Crimes Act is a Table 2 offence. This means it will be dealt with in the Local Court, unless the prosecution elects to have it heard in the District Court.

How serious is a failure to stop charge?

The failure to stop laws are intended to allow the police carry out their duties and powers, and reduce the road deaths caused by drivers attempting to flee.

Accordingly, it is an offence treated seriously by the courts. Your matter could be heard on indictment, that is, in the District Court before a judge, and both failure to stop offences can result in imprisonment. People convicted for failing to stop when the police are in pursuit are most frequently sentenced to time in prison.

Will I lose my license for a failure to stop offence?

Yes, if you are convicted for failure to stop, you will have your licence disqualified. The length of the disqualification period will vary depending on which offence you are charged with, whether you have been charged with an offence previously, and the circumstances of the offence.

Once you are charged, you can only avoid disqualification by successful defending the charge in court, or if the magistrate applies a section 10 in sentencing.

What are the possible defences?

A common defence to failing to stop is that you did not know the police had directed you to stop and that you had no reason to know.  This might be because the lights and sirens of the police car were not on, or because you did not see the random breath testing station on the side of the road.

For failure to stop when in pursuit, a possible defence may be claiming that your driving was not reckless and was not dangerous to others.

Our traffic lawyers can advise whether a defence for failure to stop is available to you.

How can we help?

We are experienced in successfully defending drink driving and traffic offences in NSW.

Book a free consultation or call us on 1300 668 484 for 24/7 legal advice.