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  • Home Resources & Technical Articles Driving & Traffic Offences Dangerous Driving Offences Dangerous Driving Offences and Penalties in Western Australia (WA)

    Dangerous Driving Offences and Penalties in Western Australia (WA)

    The state of Western Australia has comprehensive laws as regards dangerous driving offences. These laws describe the activities that constitute each dangerous driving offence and their penalties.

    Consequently, this is to ensure that people do not engage in dangerous driving activities, which will, in turn, improve road safety. The laws regarding dangerous driving are present in the Road Traffic Act 1974 (WA).

    This write-up will discuss what the law says regarding dangerous driving offences and the penalties that follow. Also, this article will consider suitable defences against dangerous driving allegations.

    If an individual is convicted in a WA 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 Western Australia.

    What the Law Says Regarding the Different Dangerous Driving Offences

    Several sections in the Road Traffic Act 1974 (WA) deal with the different dangerous driving offences. These offences are:

    #1. Careless Driving

    Section 62 of the Road Traffic Act 1974 (WA), states that it is an offence for a person to drive without the required amount of care and attention. This offence carries a fine of 30 penalty units.

    Nevertheless, the penalty could be higher if the offence occasioned death or serious bodily injury or bodily harm. When careless driving occasions death or grievous bodily injury or bodily harm, the penalty will be a fine of 720 penalty units or three years imprisonment.

    Also, the court will disqualify the offender from possessing a licence for at least three months.

    #2. Dangerous Driving

    Section 61 of the Road Traffic Act 1974 (WA), states that it is a crime for an individual to drive a motor vehicle in a way that places other road users in danger. A first-time offender under this section will be liable to a fine of 60 penalty units.

    On the other hand, a repeat offender may face a fine of 120 penalty units or nine months imprisonment. Also, whether the individual is a first-time or a repeat offender, the court will have to disqualify them from possessing a licence for 12 months.

    However, committing the offence of driving dangerously under aggravating circumstances can attract a fine of 720 penalty units or three years imprisonment. Additionally, the law requires that the court issues a disqualification for a minimum of 2 years.

    Dangerous Driving Resulting in Death or Grievous Bodily Harm

    Section 59 of the Road Traffic Act 1974 (WA) establishes that a person can face more severe penalties if they drove in a manner that results in the death or serious bodily injury of another person and:

    • The offender was under the influence of alcohol to the extent that they could not exercise complete control of the vehicle.
    • The offender was under the influence of drugs, causing them not to control the vehicle properly.
    • The offender was under the influence of both drugs and alcohol to the point that they could not fully control the vehicle.
    • The culprit was driving at a speed that was dangerous to the public.

    Dangerous driving occasioning death while under the influence of any intoxicating substance carries a fine of any amount or 20 years imprisonment. If it results in only serious bodily injury, the penalty will be a fine of whatsoever amount or 14 years imprisonment.

    In any other case where a person caused the death of another person through dangerous driving, they will be liable to ten years imprisonment or a fine of any amount. On the flip side, dangerous driving occasioning severe bodily injury comes with a fine of any amount or seven years imprisonment.

    Dangerous Driving Causing Bodily Harm

    Section 59A of the Road Traffic Act 1974 (WA), specifically deals with dangerous driving resulting in bodily harm.

    This section establishes that a person could face severe penalties if they drove a motor vehicle and, as a result, caused bodily injury to another person.

    The penalties given depend on if a person is a first time or a repeat offender. For example, a first-time offender under this section could face a fine of 180 penalty units or nine months imprisonment. Also, the court must disqualify the offender from possessing a licence for a minimum of 12 months.

    However, a repeat offender will be liable to a fine of 360 penalty units or 18 months imprisonment. Furthermore, the court will disqualify them from possessing a licence for at least 18 months.

    #3. Driving in a Reckless Manner

    Section 60 of the Road Traffic Act 1974 (WA) states that it is an offence for a person to drive a motor vehicle recklessly, consequently placing other road users in danger.

    The penalties for this offence rely on whether it is a first, second, or third-time offence.

    A first-time offence carries a fine of 120 penalty units or nine months imprisonment and six months disqualification.

    A second-time offence attracts a fine of 180 or 9 months imprisonment and 12 months disqualification. In the case of a third-time violation, the punishment will be a fine of 240 penalty units or 12 months imprisonment and a permanent disqualification.

    Furthermore, section 60B of the road traffic act states that the penalties for reckless driving can become higher under aggravating circumstances. In such a case;

    • The court can sentence such an offender to 5 years imprisonment.
    • In addition, the court could disqualify the offender from possessing a licence for a minimum of two years. However, a permanent disqualification applies if it is a third-time offence.

    #4. Driving at a Reckless Speed

    Under Section 60a of the Road Traffic Act 1974 (WA), it is a crime for a person to drive at a speed of 155km/h or above on any type of road. Furthermore, this section explains that it is a crime for an individual to drive at 45km/h or more within a confiscation zone.

    Committing any of these offences for the first time carries a fine of 120 penalty units or nine months imprisonment and six months disqualification.

    A second-time offence attracts a fine of 180 penalty units or nine months imprisonment and disqualification for 12 months. Going further, a third-time crime comes with a fine of 240 penalty units or 12 months imprisonment and a permanent disqualification.

    However, Section 60B of the Road Traffic Act 1974 (WA) establishes that the penalties for careless driving can be more severe if committed under aggravating circumstances. For example, an aggravated careless driving can come with the following sentences:

    • Five years imprisonment
    • Permanent disqualification from possessing or obtaining a licence.

    The Possible Defences for Dangerous Driving Offences

    There are several defences that a person can use in countering an allegation for any dangerous driving offence. Some of these defences are:

    • The accused did not intentionally commit the offence.
    • The defendant committed the crime as a response to an emergency.
    • The accused is an emergency service worker and the alleged offence occurred during the course of their duty.

    The Court that Handles the Majority of the Trials for Dangerous Driving Offences in WA

    In Western Australia, the Magistrates Court conducts most trials for dangerous driving offences.

    Conclusion

    The penalties for dangerous driving can be pretty steep, depending on several factors. As such, it is always advisable that a person employ the assistance of a legal practitioner. With the aid of a legal practitioner, a defendant can increase their chances of getting a favourable verdict.

    Will a dangerous driving offence in Western Australia (WA) show up on a criminal history check?

    If an individual is found guilty of a dangerous driving offence in Western Australia (WA) , the offence will show up as a disclosable court outcome (DCO) on the results of their police record check.

    The offence will be shown as a traffic conviction on the police check.

    Individuals can obtain an Australian police check via the Australian National Character Check - ANCC® website.

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