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Negligent /

Dangerous Driving

This page provides some general information about a number of criminal offences involving motor vehicles. As their basic ingredient each of them involves an act of driving which our Legislature has decided is worthy of criminal punishment.

The distinction between the various offences basically comes down to how bad the driving is, and how serious the consequences are. It is a technical area of law and it is highly recommended that if you are charged you immediately contact a defence lawyer with experience dealing with this kind of matter.

NEGLIGENT DRIVING

If you are the driver of a motor vehicle the law requires you to exhibit the standard of car expected of the ordinary prudent driver in the particular circumstances as they exist. If you fall short of this standard you will be driving negligently.

In some instances there will be witnesses who can give evidence about the manner in which a person was driving. In other cases there will only be circumstantial evidence such as tyre marks and a collision. While in some cases this will be sufficient to prove the offence, a crash is not in and of itself proof of negligence. It is possible to crash by accident without there be any negligence.

Negligent conduct can describe a wide range behaviour; from momentarily crossing the centre line to serious multi vehicle collisions. The penalty that is imposed if you plead guilty or if you are found guilty will depend on numerous factors. However, the maximum penalty places this as one of the least serious offences that come before the Courts. Accordingly, it is often possible to convince the Court to deal with these matters by way of section 10. This means that you will be found guilty but not convicted or disqualified from driving.

 

Maximum penalty: $1100 fine​

NEGLIGENT DRIVING OCCASIONING GRIEVOUS BODILY HARM (GBH

If the driver of a motor vehicle fails to exhibit the standard of car expected of the ordinary prudent driver in the particular circumstances, their driving will be negligent. If the consequence of that negligence is to cause really serious injury to another person you can be charged with negligent driving and causing grievous bodily harm. This offence carries significantly heavier penalties. While in some cases the Courts will extend leniency, in serious cases gaol sentences can be imposed.
 

Maximum penalty (1st offence): 9 months imprisonment / $2200 fine
Maximum penalty (2nd offence): 12 months imprisonment / $3300 fine​

NEGLIGENT DRIVING
OCCASIONING DEATH

If negligent driving results in death, a plea of guilty or finding of guilt will almost always carry with it a conviction. Where the degree of negligence is high, a period of imprisonment could well be imposed.


Maximum penalty (first offence): 18 months imprisonment / $3300 fine
Maximum penalty (2nd offence): 2 years imprisonment / $5500 fine

RECKLESS / FURIOUS /
DANGEROUS DRIVING

Driving is dangerous where the driver so seriously fails to properly control and manage the vehicle that he or she creates a real danger of harm to other persons in or around the vicinity of the vehicle far exceeding that which arises simply from the normal use of a motor vehicle. Driving can be dangerous for a number of reasons including speed, the manner of driving or mechanical deficiency. Even momentary inattention can constitute dangerous driving if it amounts to a serious breach of the proper management and control of the vehicle.

When determining whether driving is dangerous the Court will also consider the condition of the road, the amount of traffic that was around and whether there were any obstacles on the road.

If you plead guilty or are found guilty, the penalty will depend on a number of factors including how bad your driving was and the degree of risk it posed to others. For most people a gaol sentence is unlikely; however in serious cases or if you have a poor driving record it is possible.

Maximum penalty (1st offence): 9 months imprisonment / $2200 fine
Maximum penalty (2nd offence): 12 months imprisonment / $3300 fine

DANGEROUS DRIVING
OCCASIONING GBH

GBH is short for grievous bodily harm. This in turn simply means really serious injury. When dangerous driving results in really serious injury, the meaning of ‘dangerous driving’ is broader than where there is no such consequence. In order to prove the charge, the prosecution must establish that:
 

  • You had a collision

  • Another person suffered really serious injury


And that at the time of the impact one some or all of the following circumstances existed:

 

  • You were under the influence of alcohol or another drug

  • You were driving at a spend dangerous to another person

  • You were driving in a manner dangerous to another person


Basically the legislature has said that if you crash and cause GBH to another person, the fact that you were under the influence of a drug or alcohol is sufficient to establish that your driving was dangerous. If there is no suggestion of drugs or alcohol, the question will be whether you so seriously failed to properly control and manage the vehicle that you created a real danger of harm to other persons in or around the vicinity of the vehicle far exceeding that which arise from the normal use of a motor vehicle.

Our lawmakers have given ‘collision’ a very broad meaning in this context. Your lawyer can explain in straightforward terms how it applies in your case.

It is a defence if the injury was not in any way attributable to your intoxication, manner or speed of driving.

Maximum penalty: 7 years imprisonment

AGGRAVATED DANGEROUS DRIVING
OCCASIONING GBH

Aggravated simply means ‘more serious.’ If an offence described above is committed in any of the following circumstances the maximum penalty is substantially increased:
 

  • You had a breath alcohol reading of 0.15 (high range)

  • You were exceeding the speed limit by more than 45km/h

  • You were driving to escape pursuing police

  • Your ability to drive was very substantially impaired by drugs


Maximum penalty: 11 years imprisonment

DANGEROUS DRIVING
OCCASIONING DEATH

When dangerous driving results in death, the meaning of ‘dangerous driving’ is broader than where there is no such consequence. In order to prove the charge, the prosecution must establish that:
 

  • You had a collision  

  • Another person was killed
     

At the time of the impact one some or all of the following circumstances existed:
 

  • You were under the influence of alcohol or another drug

  • You were driving at a spend dangerous to another person

  • You were driving in a manner dangerous to another person
     

Basically the legislature has said that if you crash and cause GBH to another person, the fact that you were under the influence of a drug or alcohol is sufficient to establish that your driving was dangerous. If there is no suggestion of drugs or alcohol, the question will be whether you so seriously failed to properly control and manage the vehicle that you created a real danger of harm to other persons in or around the vicinity of the vehicle far exceeding that which arise from the normal use of a motor vehicle.
 

Our lawmakers have given ‘collision’ a very broad meaning in this context. Your lawyer can explain in straightforward terms how it applies in your case.
 

It is a defence if the death was not in any way attributable to your intoxication, manner or speed of driving.
 

Maximum penalty: 10 years imprisonment

AGGREVATED DANGEROUS DRIVING
OCCASIONING DEATH

Aggravated simply means ‘more serious.’ If an offence described above is committed in any of the following circumstances the maximum penalty is substantially increased:
 

  • You had a breath alcohol reading of 0.15 (high range)

  • You were exceeding the speed limit by more than 45km/h

  • You were driving to escape pursuing police

  • Your ability to drive was very substantially impaired by drugs
     

Maximum penalty: 14 years imprisonment