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  • Home Resources & Technical Articles Driving & Traffic Offences Dangerous Driving Offences Dangerous Driving Offences and Penalties in New South Wales (NSW)

    Dangerous Driving Offences and Penalties in New South Wales (NSW)

    In New South Wales, several offences fall under the category of dangerous driving. Committing any of these crimes can result in severe penalties, ranging from disqualification to imprisonment.

    These penalties are instrumental in ensuring road safety as dangerous driving often results in some terrible road accidents. The laws and penalties for dangerous driving offences are evident in the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) and the Road Transport Act 2013 (NSW).

    This article will consider what the law says regarding different dangerous driving offences and their penalties. Furthermore, this write-up will look at the defences a person can use in countering a legal accusation of dangerous driving.

    If an individual is convicted in a NSW 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 NSW.

    What the Law Says Regarding the Different Dangerous Driving Offences in NSW

    There are several dangerous driving offences under the Crimes Act 1900 and the Road Transport Act 2013. These offences are:

    #1. Street Racing, Attempt on Speed Records and Speed Trials

    Section 115 of the Road Transport Act 2013 (NSW), states that a person without written approval from the commissioner of police can become guilty of an offence if:

    • The individual participates in street racing using their vehicle.
    • The person tries to use their vehicle in breaking a particular speed record on a road.
    • The person engages in a competition that tries to test a driver's skill or a vehicle's mechanical condition on the road.

    A first-time offender under this section may receive a fine of 30 penalty units. On the other hand, a second-time offender will be liable to 30 penalty units or nine months imprisonment or both.

    Also, the court will have to disqualify an offender (A first or repeat offender) from obtaining or possessing a licence for 12 months.

    It is important to note that a person can still be guilty of an offence even with a permit. This is because, in most cases, written approval from the commissioner of police comes with certain conditions.

    These conditions serve the purpose of protecting the interest of the public. Therefore, failing to comply with these conditions attracts a fine of 20 penalty units.

    #2. Conduct Associated With Drag Racing and Other Activities on the Road

    According to Section 116 of the Road Transport Act 2013 (NSW), it is an offence for a person to drive a vehicle in a manner that causes the vehicle to experience a sustained loss of traction by any of its driving wheels. This crime carries a fine of 10 penalty units.

    Additionally, Section 116(2) of the Road Transport Act 2013 expresses that it is an offence for a person to:

    • Use any fluid, like petrol, oil or flammable liquid, to make a vehicle go through a sustained loss of traction in any of its wheels on the road.
    • Cause a vehicle to suffer an intensified and prolonged loss of traction through their action or inaction.
    • Repeatedly carry out the act of causing a vehicle to undergo a sustained loss of traction in any of its wheels.
    • A person intentionally causes a vehicle to undergo a prolonged loss of traction to disrupt peace and safety.
    • An individual of their own volition participates in a group activity that involves causing one or more vehicles to undergo a prolonged loss of traction.
    • A person organises, promotes or urges others to participate or come to see a group activity that involves making one or more vehicles undergo a prolonged loss of traction in one or more of its wheels.
    • A person takes pictures or video recordings of an event involving a person driving a vehicle in a way that results in a prolonged loss of traction.

    Under this section, a first-time offender may face a fine of 30 penalty units, while a repeat offender may receive 30 penalty units or nine months imprisonment or both.

    #3. Negligent Furious or Reckless Driving

    Section 117 of the Road Transport Act 2013 (NSW) states that it is an offence for a person to drive negligently on the road. This offence comes with a fine of 10 penalty units. However, if the crime of negligent driving leads to another person's death, this can attract a fine of 30 penalty units ($6,660) or 18 months imprisonment or both.

    Nonetheless, the penalty for a repeat offender is higher. A repeat offender faces a fine of 50 penalty units or two years of imprisonment.

    Furthermore, if the offence results in serious bodily injuries, the punishment will be a fine of 20 penalty units or nine months imprisonment or both. Nevertheless, a repeat offender will be liable to a fine of 30 penalty units or 12 months in prison or both.

    Also, Section 117(2) of the Road Transport Act 2013 makes it an offence for any individual to drive furiously/recklessly or at a speed that endangers other road users.

    This crime carries a fine of 20 penalty units or nine months imprisonment or both if the individual is a first time offender. On the other hand, a repeat offender is liable to a fine of 30 penalty units or 12 months imprisonment or both.

    However, before the court can convict a person for the offence of driving furiously/recklessly or at a speed that endangers others, the court must consider the following:

    • The condition of the road at the time the crime took place.
    • The traffic or the expected traffic when the offence occurred.
    • The different obstructions or hazards on the road.

    #4. Menacing Driving

    Section 118 of the Road Transport Act 2013 (NSW), states that a person can become guilty of an offence if they drive in a menacing manner or with the intention of frightening other road users.

    This offence attracts a maximum of 30 penalty units or 18 months imprisonment or both if the individual is a first-time offender. On the other hand, a repeat offender may receive a maximum of 50 penalty units or two years imprisonment or both.

    Furthermore, section 118(2) of the Road Transport Act 2013 states that a person must not drive menacingly if they ought to have known that driving in that way would menace another person.

    Going against this section of the law can attract a maximum of 20 penalty units or 12 months imprisonment, or both. However, a repeat offender could receive a more severe punishment of 30 penalty units or 18 months in prison or both.

    #5. Dangerous Driving

    Section 52A of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) states that it is an offence for any individual to drive dangerously.

    The offence of dangerous driving resulting in death carries an imprisonment sentence of 10 years. However, the penalty can increase to 14 years imprisonment if it becomes aggravated.

    In a scenario where the offence causes grievous bodily injury, the penalty will be seven years imprisonment.

    Possible Defences

    There are several defences that a person can raise when facing a dangerous driving allegation. These defences are:

    • The defendant did not deliberately commit a dangerous driving offence.
    • The defendant's vehicle developed a fault while in motion, causing them to drive dangerously.
    • The accused person was not the one operating the vehicle.
    • The accused had to drive dangerously in the process of responding to an emergency.

    The Court that Conducts the Trials for Dangerous Driving Offences in NSW

    In New South Wales, the Local Court handles most of the trials for dangerous driving offences.

    Bottom Line

    Almost every dangerous driving offence comes along with severe penalties. As such, when accused of a dangerous driving offence, it is best to employ the service of a legal practitioner. This is because a legal practitioner has what it takes to help a defendant get the best result possible.

    Will a dangerous driving offence in NSW show up on a criminal history check?

    If an individual is found guilty of a dangerous driving offence in New South Wales (NSW), 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.

    Sources

    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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