In the event a person is charged with an offence relating to a motor vehicle, it may be advantageous for the person charged to attend upon a Traffic Offender Program (TOPs). This may significantly reduce the sentence and in some cases result in a non-conviction by the Judicial Officer concerned.
There are a number of TOPs in operation.
Referral to one of these programs is initiated by a request to the court by an accused’s lawyer, or by the court itself. People are generally referred to the programs before sentencing. When referred to a TOP, a person is required to enter an attendance agreement.
There are a variety of different TOPs that operate out of different local areas. If you are not sure whether a TOP is available in the area of the Local Court where you are appearing, ask a practitioner who appears at that court or enquire at that court registry.
TOPs typically run for six to eight weeks and may include lectures, assignments, experiential learning (such as attending hospital wards) and group therapy.
The group running the TOP usually provides an attendance record/achievement report to the court at the end of the program.
Where a person’s license has been suspended by police before sentencing, this period of suspension may be extended while the offender participates in a TOP. This period of suspension before sentencing can go towards satisfying whole or part of any disqualification period imposed by the court (s 34(6)(b) RTGA).