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Australia at a Glance

Australia: Traffic Violations & Car Imports

Driving in Australia evokes images of endless roads in a red desert. Indeed, the sheer size of the country means that expat drivers may face unexpected difficulties. We tell you all about venturing into the outback as well as rules and regulations for driving in Australia.

Speed Limits

Law enforcement officers in Australia take two things very seriously on the road: speed limits and driving under the influence. You will gain major demerit points on your license if you break speed limits (usually between 50 km/h in metropolitan areas and 130 km/h on some highways in the Northern Territory). Speeding in cities is punished more harshly than in rural areas.

It is best to follow the speed limit signs as both visible and hidden traffic cameras are present along highways and roads. Victoria, for instance, has rather strict speeding laws, with unmarked cars along roadways containing hidden cameras and police speed traps. In Victoria, the current penalty for driving 10 km/h over the speed limit consists of three demerit points, as well as a fine.

Drunk Driving

The legal maximum blood alcohol level (BAL) for driving in Australia is 0.5‰. Depending on your gender, weight, and height, this can be the equivalent of as little as a pint of beer or a big glass of wine. If you are a learner or have a provisional license, you must remain completely sober. However, since everyone reacts to alcohol differently, police are allowed to pull you over and use a breathalyzer if you seem impaired.

If you happen to be caught with a BAL exceeding the legal limit, you face severe penalties. An appearance in court, a high fine, and demerit points will be certain consequences. Even license suspension and jail time are possible, especially for repeat offenders. It is wise not to refuse a breathalyzer test, as this will only increase the law enforcement officer’s suspicion.

Import and Insure Your Car

Although Australia is probably quite a distance away from most expats’ home countries, it is possible to import your vehicle if you are very attached to it. Keep in mind that this is a costly and complicated procedure: your vehicle must conform to Australian design and safety standards. You cannot import a vehicle into Australia without first obtaining a Vehicle Import Approval. To get this, you must fill out the application, accompanied by a 50 AUD fee and an address in Australia to which the approval can be sent.

For a more detailed version of guidelines for importing your car, visit the Australian Government’s Department of Transportation and Infrastructure in order to download a PDF about importing cars to Australia. If you ship your car to Australia before receiving the vehicle import approval, your car will not go through customs, and you will pay a high price for storage. In some cases, you may even face prosecution as it is considered a federal offense to import a car without authorization.

Car insurance in Australia is mandatory, and it is illegal to drive without one. Third party insurance is compulsory in Australia, and you pay for it upon registering your car. This will insure you and all those involved in an accident. Again, car registration and insurance differs from territory to territory, so please contact the respective motorist group for more information. A popular car insurance company in Australia, for example, is Australian Associated Motor Insurers (AAMI), where you can get free quotes on various policies.

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