If you’ve ever been carrying a fishing tackle box in your ute and wondered, “Will I get in trouble for having my fishing knife?”, then you’ve probably got too much time on your hands!

    • The definition of a weapon really comes down to the intent of the handler
    • There are lawful reasons to carry certain items in your car, such as knives
    • Remember – lots of people have dash cams these days!

    If you were to be pulled over by a police officer and you happened to have a knife with you, that would – in theory – be fine, so long as you are carrying that ‘weapon’ for a lawful purpose. 

    So, yes, if you had a fishing rod and a tackle box, and you stunk like the day’s catch, then you are less likely to run into trouble than if you just had a knife or another weapon in your glovebox or in the door pocket of your car.

    CarExpert spoke to a NSW Police officer who suggested that it really comes down to the situation. 

    If you were to be carrying a knife, baseball bat or anything else that you’re legally allowed to possess (not guns, unless you’re licensed to carry them, and you’ve got a reason to), then, so long as you were not intending to do anything unlawful with those articles, you shouldn’t really find yourself in any trouble. 

    Note, however, that a police officer can inspect your vehicle without a warrant if they have grounds to believe there is something illegal in the car, or have some form of suspicion around what is happening with the vehicle or its occupants. If you try to stop them, you may be arrested and charged with hindering police.

    You cannot possess a weapon as a means of self defence. Our police contact told us they once encountered a driver who had an aerosol can in their car that they claimed was in the vehicle for “self defence”, which instantly turned that can of Impulse into a weapon in the eyes of the law. 

    You’ve probably seen dash cam videos where a driver who is seemingly being harassed gets out of their car with some kind of weapon to defend themselves. They’re breaking the law, and potentially breaking it to a much greater extent than the jerk who was tailgating them.

    So, if you’ve been thinking it’s okay to have a cricket bat in the car – but you haven’t been down to the nets in 10 years – and you want to have something like that to feel “safe”, then you may be breaking the law. A cricket bat is an example of a “dangerous article”. Other such weapons that may fall under that terminology include a hammer or an axe.

    A self defence weapon is essentially considered the same as having a weapon that you intend to hurt someone with. It will ultimately come down to the intent of what you plan to use it for. And if you are curious about what “intent” may be, you really ought to speak with a lawyer.

    If you were found guilty of possessing a weapon such as a knife without a lawful excuse in NSW, under the Summary Offences Act 1988 you could face up to two years imprisonment and/or a fine of $2200 if it ends up in court. Otherwise you might face an on-the-spot fine of up to $500.

    In Queensland and other states, the law is pretty similar in the sense that you can’t carry a knife in public and police consider your vehicle to be ‘in public’, unless you have a reasonable excuse. QLD police do not consider self-defence as a ‘reasonable excuse’ for carrying a knife.

    Not intended as legal advice. Check with the relevant roads authority in your state or territory.

    Matt Campbell
    Matt Campbell is a Senior Contributor at CarExpert.
    Buy and Lease
    Uncover exclusive deals and discounts with a VIP referral to Australia's best dealers
    Uncover exclusive deals and discounts with a VIP referral to Australia's best dealers