Penalties for driving offences are increasing up to $40,000 and there are greater risks of getting caught, a magistrate has warned the Ballarat community.
Jonathan Klestadt made the comments during two of four plea hearings relating to driving offences at the Ballarat Magistrates Court on Thursday.
Four people fronted the court for various driving offences occurring across Ballarat, including drug-driving, driving while suspended and unlicensed, and failing to accompany police to a police station for a breath test.
During one of those cases, the court was told an Automatic Number Plate Recognition camera alerted Ballarat police to a suspended driver travelling east on Victoria Street on January 18.
Samantha Nievelstein's licence had been suspended for three months due to speeding but within one month of the suspension, she was caught driving.
The hospitality worker told police she knew her licence had been suspended but believed it had ended.
The magistrate told her penalties for driving offences were increasing up to $40,000, and "the risks to engage in this behaviour are greater than they ever have been".
Nievelstein, who pleaded guilty to driving while suspended, was convicted and fined $750.
Anyone who drives with drugs in their system are putting themselves and other road users at risk. It's just not acceptable anymore.Jonathan Klestadt
In a separate case, Mr Klestadt told a 31-year-old man he was lucky to be alive when police saw him driving evasively on Eureka Street on October 21 at 1.55am.
The court was told Leigh Ridsdale, 31, underwent a preliminary breath test which indicated the presence of alcohol and he agreed to go to the Ballarat Police Station for an evidentiary breath test.
But he changed his mind despite police explaining the consequences. Ridsdale, who had been drinking alcohol at a friend's house party, pleaded guilty to failing to accompany police to a police station for a breath test.
"On one level you are very fortunate to be here at all. You, yourself, could have been seriously injured or killed ... or could be facing a culpable driving causing death which would lead to jail," the magistrate said.
Ridsdale was convicted and fined $1500 and ordered off the road for two years.
On December 20 at 4pm police stopped Nathan Treacy driving along Learmonth Road after they saw him and his four-year-old daughter not wearing seat belts.
The court was told checks revealed the 23-year-old Creswick man was unlicensed and his vehicle was unregistered.
Treacy pleaded guilty to five charges and was placed on a 12-month community corrections order with 25 hours of community work. He was convicted and fined $500.
Ballarat man Michael Hancock-Burt admitted he smoked cannabis with his mother several hours before he drove his vehicle in Sebastopol on December 26. Police stopped him in Skipton Street where he underwent an oral fluid test for drugs.
The full-time worker fronted the court on Thursday where he told the magistrate he had previously used cannabis but he had been trying to get his life back together.
"Anyone who drives with drugs in their system are putting themselves and other road users at risk. It's just not acceptable anymore," Mr Klestadt said.
Hancock-Burt was convicted and fined $250 and he was disqualified from driving for six months.
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