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In the Australian Capital Territory, several offences fall under the category of dangerous driving, and these offences attract several penalties. The reason for this is not far-fetched. Dangerous driving tends to increase the rate of road accidents. As such, it is not out of place that there are several penalties to discourage the act of dangerous driving.
The different offences and penalties regarding dangerous driving are evident in the Crimes Act 1900 (ACT) and the Road Transport (Safety and Traffic Management) Act 1999 (ACT).
This article will consider what the law says about the various offences under dangerous driving and their penalties. Also, this article will take a look at the different defences suitable for countering the allegation of dangerous driving.
If an individual is convicted in an ACT court for a dangerous driving offence, the offence will show up as a disclosable court outcome (DCO) on a Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check in the ACT.
Based on the Crimes Act 1900 (ACT) and the Road Transport (Safety and Traffic Management) Act 1999 (ACT), there are several offences under the category of dangerous driving.
These offences are:
Section 29 of the Crimes Act 1900 (ACT) states that a person can become guilty of an offence if:
If, in the process of committing an offence under this section, an individual causes the death of another person, they will be liable to 14 years imprisonment. In the case of a bodily injury, a person may face 10 years imprisonment.
Additionally, the court will have to disqualify the offender from obtaining or possessing a licence.
Nevertheless, before the court can convict a person for an offence in this section, the prosecution must have convinced the court beyond all reasonable doubt that:
Under Section 6 of the Road Transport (Safety and Traffic Management) Act 1999 (ACT) it is a crime for an individual to drive a motor vehicle on a road or somewhere similar to a road negligently. This offence attracts a fine of 20 penalty units.
However, if this offence leads to the death of another person, the punishment will be 200 penalty units or 2 years incarceration or both. If the crime causes serious bodily injury to another person, the offender will be liable to 100 penalty units or 1-year imprisonment or both.
Also, the court will disqualify the convicted person from obtaining or possessing a licence if the offence caused death or serious bodily injury.
Nevertheless, convicting a person for negligent driving can only take place after the prosecution has proven that:
Furthermore, the court can only convict a person for negligent driving after it has considered the following:
Section 7 of the Road Transport (Safety and Traffic Management) Act 1999 (ACT) states that it is a crime for an individual to drive a motor vehicle furiously or recklessly or at a speed that puts other road users at risk.
This offence comes with a fine of 100 penalty units or 12 months imprisonment, or both. Also, the court will disqualify the offender from obtaining or possessing a licence. However, the penalties could increase under aggravating circumstances. These aggravating circumstances are:
An aggravated offence of driving furiously, recklessly or dangerously attracts a maximum of 300 penalty units or 3 years imprisonment or both. However, a repeat offender will be liable to a maximum of 500 penalty units or 5 years.
Nevertheless, the court will only convict a person for the offence of furious, reckless or dangerous driving after it has considered the following:
Also, the court can only convict a person after the prosecution has provided satisfactory evidence that:
Several defences are suitable in countering an allegation of dangerous driving. These defences are:
A defendant can only use the defence of necessity if they committed the crime intending to prevent a terrible event from occurring.
If a defendant unintentionally commits an offence classified as dangerous driving, they may have a defence. For instance, an accused might have driven dangerously due to their vehicle developing a mechanical fault while on the road.
The law exempts emergency workers from facing charges for dangerous driving if they committed the act while on duty. Examples of emergency workers include the police, firefighters and emergency medical workers.
In the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), the Magistrates Court conducts most of the trials for offences that fall under dangerous driving.
The Australian Capital Territory does not take dangerous driving offences lightly. As such, it is crucial for a person facing a charge of dangerous driving to employ the services of a legal practitioner. With the help of a legal practitioner, an accused stands a good chance of getting the best result possible.
If an individual is found guilty of a dangerous driving offence in the Australian Capital Territory, the offence will show up as a disclosable court outcome (DCO) on the results of their police record check.
Individuals can obtain an Australian police check via the Australian National Character Check - ANCC® website.
Crimes Act 1900 (ACT) - https://www.legislation.act.gov.au/a/1900-40
Road Transport (Safety and Traffic Management) Act 1999 (ACT) - https://www.legislation.act.gov.au/a/1999-80/
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