Defect notices are issued under section 145 of the Road Traffic Act 1961(SA). A member of the Police or an inspector may examine a vehicle which they suspect on reasonable grounds to have deficiencies. The owner of the vehicle may be required to produce the vehicle for an examination at a specified place and time.
Vehicles of a prescribed class
If the vehicle is of a prescribed class (which under regulation 45 of the Road Traffic (Miscellaneous) Regulations 2014 (SA) includes: prime movers; commercial motor vehicles; and trailers) the Police or an inspector can examine the vehicle whether or not there is reason to suspect deficiencies.
What is a defective vehicle?
A vehicle is considered defective if it:
Petrol power assisted bikes
Petrol power assisted bikes cannot be lawfully driven on South Australian roads. This means that a defect notice can be issued for such bikes. In addition, as they cannot be registered or insured, charges of driving unregistered and driving uninsured are likely to follow (see Unregistered and uninsured vehicles).
If on examination the vehicle is found to have deficiencies, but to the extent that further use on roads would not cause safety risk, then a formal written warning may be given. If the driver of the vehicle is not the registered owner, they must provide the warning to the registered owner of the vehicle [Road Traffic Act 1961 (SA) s 145(4b)].
Major and minor defect notices
If further road use would cause imminent and serious safety risks then a major defect notice is given; in any other case a minor defect notice is given. In either case the notice is to be given to the driver, the defect label is to be affixed to the vehicle, and a copy of the notice is sent to the Registrar of Motor Vehicles.
Information a defect notice must contain
The defect notice must state:
Offence to remove or deface defective label
A person must not deface, alter, obscure or remove a defective label otherwise they can incur either an expiation fee or a fine - see Expiable Offences, Codes and Fees (PD320A) on the SAPOL website.
Penalties for contravening defect notice
For driving, allowing the car to stand on the road, selling or otherwise disposing of a defected vehicle contrary to the terms of the defect notice the offender is liable to pay a fine of up to $1250 and gain 3 demerit points. However, it can be a defence that the vehicle was sold with reason to believe that it was not intended to be used on a road after the sale or disposal.