Clarity Law

Specialist Traffic Law Firm Queensland
Monday, 05 June 2023 19:18

How does a traffic matter proceed in the Southport Magistrates Court?

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You’ve been pulled over, tested and charged with a drink or drug driving offence and it’s now your court date.

You arrive to the Southport Magistrates Court at 8.30am and stand in line to be searched through security.


Representing yourself

You look for your name on the board in the lobby and make your way to where all matters start in Southport, Court 1.

You will go in, check in with the police prosecutor or their assistant and get asked: are you pleading or adjourning the matter?

If you are not legally represented, you will be in for a wait - represented matters take priority, with solicitors and barristers going first. The court will then deal with the unrepresented adjournments and then the unrepresented pleas. Southport typically has a long list, which means you may be in for a wait if you are unrepresented.

When it is your turn, the prosecutor will call your name and you will walk up to the bar table. The magistrate will ask what is happening with your matter? If you are adjourning and it is the first mention, usually you will be allowed the adjournment. Usually the Magistrate will place you on bail (read our article on bail here) and you will have to sign that bail form and then you will be free to go.

If you are there to plead guilty to the offence, the magistrate will ask you to stand and read out the charge and ask how you plead. This is called the arraignment and in this process you will usually be asked “do you plead guilty of your own free will?” and “has anyone in a position of authority, such as a police officer forced, induced or promised you anything?”.

The prosecutor will then stand up and read out the facts of the charge, and tender any documents they have, such as a traffic or criminal history.

The magistrate will then ask you if you’d like to say anything on your own behalf. This is your opportunity to tell the court anything you believe is necessary, such as impact a disqualification will have on you and the like. You will then be sentenced for the offence, the magistrate will talk to you about their considerations in passing the sentence and will give you your penalty and disqualification.

Sounds simple enough, so why should I pay the money to get a lawyer or why wouldn’t I just use the duty lawyer?

For most people facing the court for a traffic offence, this is the first and most likely, last time they will be before the court. This can lead to a feeling of anxiety and worry as they will be going through an unfamiliar process alone.

Unfortunately, the duty lawyer resources are limited, and as such they will not act for drink or drug driving matters unless there is a risk of imprisonment. People going into court for themselves who may be relying on the duty lawyer only to be told, sorry they cannot help you is likely to cause even more stress and anxiety.


Represented by a lawyer

If you are represented by a lawyer you will be advised which time and where to meet them at the courthouse. After you have proceeded through security, your lawyer will discuss your matter with you and explain the process, including when to stand, what you need to say and how the matter will proceed.

Your lawyer will more than likely ask you to wait just outside the court whilst they go in and speak with the prosecutor and check you in. If the matter is to be an adjournment then they will advise the prosecutor and your file will be placed in the represented adjournment pile.

If the matter is to be a plea of guilty, then they will briefly discuss with the prosecutor.

You will be taken into the courtroom by your lawyer and be told to sit in the gallery. Your lawyer more than likely will sit just behind the bar table and will call you up when your matter is ready to go on.

Your lawyer will stand up and ‘announce their appearance’, meaning they will say who they are and what law firm they are from. They will say that they are here on your behalf for either an adjournment or plea of guilty. If a plea of guilty, you will stand up and be asked the same questions as a person who is unrepresented is asked. The prosecutor will then read the facts of the charge and then it will be your lawyers turn to speak.

Your lawyer will tender any material on your behalf, such as QTOP completion documents (see our article on traffic offender programs here) and any letters of reference. Your lawyer will tell the magistrate all about you and the circumstances of the offence. Importantly your lawyer will distinguish the features of your case and submit to the court their opinion on penalty.

The magistrate will ask you stand and you will be sentenced.

Your lawyer will then be excused, and you will be free to leave the court room. Your lawyer will discuss the results and outcome with you after court, including the disqualification and whether any conditions are going to be placed on you after the disqualification period. 


Why should I get a lawyer when I could probably do it myself?

This is an exceptionally common question that we are asked, in fact our office has written an article dedicated to this question. In short, If you’ve been charged with a traffic offence or face the suspension of your drivers licence , it’s important to understand your rights and options. A traffic lawyer can provide valuable services to help you navigate the legal system, understand your charges, and advocate on your behalf. Whether you’re facing a minor traffic charge or a more serious offence, a traffic lawyer can help you achieve the best possible outcome for your case.


How Do I Get More Information or Engage You to Act for Me? 

If you want to engage us or just need further information or advice then you can either;

  1. Use our contact form and we will contact you by email or phone at a time that suits you

  2. Call us on 1300 952 255 seven days a week, 7am to 7pm

  3. Click here to select a time for us to call you back

  4. Email the firms founder This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

We are a no pressure law firm, we are happy to provide information and a fixed price quote to assist you, if you want to engage us then great, if not then you at least have more information about your charge.


Last modified on Monday, 26 June 2023 15:44
Jack Marshall

Jack is a former soldier and now a traffic lawyer with Clarity Law.  Jack appears in courts throughout South East Queensland.

https://www.drivinglaw.com.au/about-us/our-team/281-jack-marshall.html | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.