Victoria Legal Aid Handbook for Lawyers

Guideline 2 – traffic offence charges in the Magistrates’ Court

Victoria Legal Aid (VLA) may make a grant of legal assistance to a person who has been charged with a traffic offence under the Road Safety Act 1986External Link to be heard in the Magistrates’ Court if the person has a psychiatric or intellectual disability or an acquired brain injury and the person’s conviction is likely to result in either:

  • imprisonment
  • a suspended term of imprisonment.

For the purposes of this guideline the penalty threshold applies whether the proposed plea is 'guilty' or 'not guilty'.

Psychiatric or intellectual disability

For the purposes of a grant under this guideline, a person suffering a psychiatric or intellectual disability or an acquired brain injury means a person who is receiving services from an approved mental health service under the Mental Health Act 1986External Link or is an eligible person registered under the Disability Act 2006External Link .

The State's special circumstances guideline does not apply to traffic matters.


Likely to result in

See Criminal law guideline 1.1 for a definition of 'likely to result in'.

Reasonable prospect of acquittal

See Criminal law guideline 1.1 for discussion of the meaning of ‘reasonable prospect of acquittal’.

Relevance of prior convictions

If a person applying for a grant has any prior convictions, VLA will take them into account when considering the likely result of the conviction on a guilty plea.

If a person has no prior convictions, VLA is more likely to make a grant of legal assistance if either:

  • the current offence is extremely serious
  • there are many charges.

Documentary requirements

Applications under this guideline are within the simplified grants assessment process.

Simplified grants assessment process

Lawyers seeking a grant of legal assistance via the simplified grants assessment process should submit an application via ATLASExternal Link , only after ensuring that the following documents are retained on file unless they are requested by VLA for assessment:

  • a reference to guideline 2
  • copies of the charge or charges
  • full details of the person’s prior convictions (if any)
  • the lawyer’s assessment of the likely penalty having regard to any prior relevant convictions (if any)
  • relevant proof of means.

Lawyers are also encouraged to complete a summary crime worksheet and a proof of means worksheet for their file.

Reviewed 18 February 2022

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