Traffic offences are some of the most commonly charged offences in New South Wales, they are largely regulated by the Road Transport Act 2013 (NSW) with some of the more serious offences regulated by the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW).

The offences include:

  • Driving whilst suspended/disqualified/cancelled
  • Police Pursuit
  • Furious or reckless driving
  • Negligent driving causing death or grievous bodily harm
  • Dangerous driving causing death or grievous bodily harm

DRIVE WHILST SUSPENDED DISQUALIFIED OR CANCELLED

THE OFFENCE:

Section 54(1) of the Road Transport Act 2013 (NSW) provides the offence of driving whilst a person’s license is disqualified. Section 54(3) Road Transport Act 2013 (NSW) provides the offence of driving whilst a person’s license is suspended. Section 54(4) Road Transport Act 2013 (NSW) provides the offence of driving whilst a person’s license is cancelled. The offences require the prosecution to prove the following beyond reasonable doubt in order for a finding of guilt to be made:

  1. You drove a motor vehicle; and
  2. Your license was suspended or disqualified or cancelled while driving the motor vehicle.

DEFINITIONS:

Disqualified – A person will be taken to be suspended if a magistrate or a judge issues a license disqualification as part of a previous traffic-related offence.

Suspended – A person will be taken to be suspended if Roads Maritimes Services (‘RMS’) has suspended their license (usually due to an accumulation of demerit points, speeding or breaching a good behaviour bond).

Cancelled – A person will be taken to be cancelled if due to previous traffic offences, a person’s license is cancelled by either a court or RMS.

I AM NOT GUILTY; HOW CAN I BEAT THE CHARGE?

  1. You weren’t driving a vehicle at the time.
  2. Your license wasn’t suspended or disqualified or cancelled while driving the motor vehicle.
  3. You had an honest and reasonable mistake of fact as to the disqualification, suspension or cancellation of your license.

THE PENALTIES

Driving whilst suspended, disqualified, or cancelled are serious offences, in most cases, a person will receive a license disqualification if found guilty. The court has the option to make a finding of guilt without conviction and consequently, no period of disqualification is issued. If you wish to speak to an experienced criminal lawyer about your options, contact the team at Australian Criminal Defence on 0415 932 866. The following sentences and disqualification periods apply in matters of this kind:

FIRST OFFENCE SECOND/SUBSEQUENT OFFENCE
FINE IMPRISONMENT DISQUALIFICATION FINE IMPRISONMENT DISQUALIFICATION
      AUTOMATIC MINIMUM     AUTOMATIC MINIMUM
Disqualified $3300 6 Months 6 months 3 months $5500 12 Months 12 Months 6 Months
Suspended $3300 6 Months 6 months 3 months $5500 12 Months 12 Months 6 Months
Cancelled $3300 6 Months 6 months 3 months $5500 12 Months 12 Months 6 Months

POLICE PURSUIT (SKYE’S LAW)

THE OFFENCE:

Section 51B of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) provides the offence of police pursuit. The prosecution must prove the following beyond reasonable doubt in order for a person to be found guilty of this offence:

  1. You knew or ought to reasonably have known the following.
    1. The police are in pursuit of your vehicle, AND
    2. You are required to stop
  2. You did not stop
  3. You then drive the vehicle recklessly at a dangerous speed.

I AM NOT GUILTY; HOW CAN I BEAT THE CHARGE?

  1. You were not the driver of the vehicle
  2. You could not have reasonably known that the police were in pursuit of your vehicle.
  3. You stopped as soon as safe to do so.

THE PENALTIES

For all offences dealt with in the local court (summarily), the maximum penalty is 2 years imprisonment. Matters dealt with in the District or Supreme Court (on indictment) carry greater penalties, the maximum penalty is as displayed below.

  FIRST OFFENCE SECOND/SUBSEQUENT OFFENCE
Dealt with Summarily Dealt with on indictment Dealt with Summarily Dealt with on indictment
Police Pursuit 2 years imprisonment 3 years imprisonment 2 years imprisonment 5 years imprisonment

FURIOUS DRIVING

THE OFFENCE:

There are two different offences related to furious driving. Section 53 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) provides an offence for furious driving where actual bodily harm occurs. Section 117(2) of the Road Transport act 2013 (NSW) provides an alternate offence for furious driving or in a manner dangerous to the public. The prosecution must prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt in order for a person to be found guilty of this offence:

  1. You drove a vehicle
  2. That driving of a vehicle was either:
    1. Furious or reckless
    2. At a speed or in a manner that is dangerous to the public
  3. (Crimes Act offence), that driving of a vehicle caused actual bodily harm to another person

I AM NOT GUILTY; HOW CAN I BEAT THE CHARGE?

  1. You were not the driver of the vehicle
  2. Your driving of a vehicle was not any of the following:
    1. Furious or reckless
    2.  At a speed or in a manner that is dangerous to the public
  3. (Crimes Act offence), that Actual bodily harm was not caused.

PENALTIES:

In most cases, a person will receive a license disqualification if found guilty. The court has the option to make a finding of guilt without conviction and consequently, no period of disqualification is issued. If you wish to speak to an experienced criminal lawyer about your options, contact the team at Australian Criminal Defence on 0415 932 866. The following sentences and disqualification periods apply in matters of this kind:

FIRST OFFENCE SECOND/SUBSEQUENT OFFENCE
FINE IMPRISONMENT FINE IMPRISONMENT
Furious driving $2200 9 months imprisonment $3300 12 months imprisonment
Furious driving with Actual Bodily Harm $11000 2 years imprisonment $11000 2 years imprisonment

NEGLIGENT DRIVING OCCASIONING DEATH/GRIEVOUS BODILY HARM

THE OFFENCE:

Section 117(1) of the Road Transport Act 2013 (NSW) provides the offence of negligent driving causing death or grievous bodily harm. To prove either offence the prosecution must prove the following beyond reasonable doubt:

  1. You drove a motor vehicle on a road
  2. The driving of the vehicle was done in a negligent manner
  3. That caused either:
    1. Death (Section 117(1)(a)) OR
    2. Grievous bodily harm (Section 117(1)(b))
    3. Did not cause death or grievous bodily harm (Section 117(1)(c))

DEFINITIONS:

The motor vehicle is defined to include a trailer. It also includes a car, bus, truck or any mode of transport powered by a motor or engine.

Grievous bodily harm is defined to include any permanent or serious disfigurement to a person and may include burns, scars, broken bones etc.

I AM NOT GUILTY, HOW CAN I BEAT THE CHARGE?

  1. You were not the driver of a motor vehicle
  2. The driving was not as a result of your negligence
  3. The driving was not negligent
  4. Your negligence did not cause another person death or Grievous Bodily harm (NOTE: Subsection (c) would be satisfied if all other elements are established).

PENALTIES

For all offences dealt with in the local court (summarily), the maximum penalty is 2 years imprisonment. Matters dealt with in the District or Supreme Court (on indictment) carry greater penalties, the maximum penalty is as displayed below.

FIRST OFFENCE SECOND/SUBSEQUENT OFFENCE
FINE IMPRISONMENT DISQUALIFICATION FINE IMPRISONMENT DISQUALIFICATION
      AUTOMATIC MINIMUM     AUTOMATIC MINIMUM
Negligent Driving $1,100 $1,100
Negligent driving causing GBH $2,200 9 months 3 years 12 months $2,200 12 months 5 years 2 years
Negligent driving causing death $3,300 18 months 3 years 12 months $5,500 2 years 5 years 2 years

DANGEROUS DRIVING CAUSING GRIEVOUS BODILY HARM/DEATH

THE OFFENCE:

Section 52A Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) provides four offences for dangerous driving causing various types of harm. They are as follows:

  1. (Section 52A(1) Crimes Act 1900 (NSW)) – Dangerous driving occasioning death
  2. (Section 52A(2) Crimes Act 1900 (NSW)) – Aggravated Dangerous driving occasioning death
  3. (Section 52A(3) Crimes Act 1900 (NSW)) – Dangerous driving occasioning grievous bodily harm
  4. (Section 52A(4) Crimes Act 1900 (NSW)) – Aggravated Dangerous driving occasioning grievous bodily harm

The prosecution is required to prove the following beyond reasonable doubt in order to convict someone of this offence:

  1. Dangerous driving occasioning death & Aggravated offence
    1. A vehicle was driven by a person
    2. That vehicle is involved in an impact
    3. That impact causes the death of another person
    4. The driver was at the time of the impact driving the vehicle in any of the following circumstances:
      1. Under the influence of intoxicating liquor or a drug, or
      2. At a speed dangerous to another person or persons
      3. In a manner dangerous to another person or persons
    5. (For the aggravated offence) – that the offence was committed in a circumstance of aggravation
  2.  Dangerous driving occasioning Grievous Bodily Harm & aggravated offence
    1. The vehicle driven by a person
    2. That vehicle is involved in an impact
    3. That impact causes grievous bodily harm to another person
    4. The driver was at the time of the impact driving the vehicle in any of the following circumstances:
      1.  Under the influence of intoxicating liquor or a drug, or
      2. At a speed dangerous to another person or persons
      3. In a manner dangerous to another person or persons
    5. (For the aggravated offence) – that the offence was committed in a circumstance of aggravation

Definitions

Driving – According to section 4(1) Road Transport Act 2013 (NSW), a person is to be driving if they are in control of the steering, movement or propulsion of the vehicle. this extends beyond the ability to steer the vehicle, and merely requires the person to be in control over a mode of stopping or moving the vehicle (i.e., using the break, handbrake or accelerator etc.)

Impact – According to section 52A (2) Crimes Act 1900 (NSW), an impact extends to a vehicle overturning or leaving a road while the person is being conveyed in or on that vehicle, as well as any impact between a vehicle or anything attached to that vehicle and an object or a person.

The circumstance of aggravation – One of the following circumstances of aggravation is also present:

  1. The accused had a BAC level of 0.15g/100ml or higher
  2. The accused was driving more than 45km/h over the speed limit; or
  3. The accused was driving the vehicle to escape a police pursuit; or
  4. The accused’s ability to drive was substantially impaired because the accused was under the influence of a drug (other than alcohol) or a combination of drugs (that can include alcohol).

I AM NOT GUILTY, HOW CAN I BEAT THE CHARGE?

  1. You were not the driver of a motor vehicle.
  2. You did not cause death/grievous bodily harm.
  3. You were not under the influence of intoxicating liquor or driving at a dangerous speed or driving in a dangerous manner.
  4. (In the case of causing death) – The death was not caused by the impact was not attributable to any of the following:
    1. The fact that the accused was under the influence of alcohol or drugs; or
    2. The speed at which the vehicle was driven; or
    3. The manner in which the vehicle was driven.

PENALTIES:

For all offences dealt with in the local court (summarily), the maximum penalty is 2 years imprisonment. Matters dealt with in the district or supreme court (on indictment) carry greater penalties, the maximum penalty is as displayed below.

FIRST OFFENCE
Summarily On Indictment
Driving occasioning death 10 years imprisonment
Aggravated driving causing death 14 years imprisonment
Dangerous driving occasioning grievous bodily harm 2 Years imprisonment 7 years imprisonment
Aggravated dangerous driving occasioning grievous bodily harm 2 years imprisonment 11 years imprisonment

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Traffic Offence Case Studies

  • Our client was charged with dangerous driving occasioning grievous bodily harm. Our team was of the view that the prosecution could not prove the ‘dangerous’ element but rather the appropriate charge should be negligent driving occasioning grievous bodily harm. The prosecution did not agree with our view.  The matter proceeded to a defended hearing at the Downing Centre Local Court. The magistrate agreed with our position and dismissed the dangerous driving occasioning grievous bodily harm charge. The magistrate did not record a conviction for our client when she was sentenced on the negligent driving occasioning grievous bodily harm charge.
  • Our client was charged with negligent driving occasioning grievous bodily harm. Our client denied the allegation and instructed our team to defend the charge. The matter proceeded to a defended hearing at Burwood Local Court. The magistrate dismissed the charge. The magistrate also ordered that the police pay our clients his legal costs.
  • Our client was charged with driving whilst disqualified.  This was the 7th time our client had been charged with this offence in the preceding three years. Our client was facing a significant term of imprisonment.  Our team comprehensively prepared the matter and obtain multiple medical reports and compelling subjective material.  The matter proceeded to sentence at Parramatta Local Court. The magistrate agreed that in this case our client should not be sentenced to full time imprisonment. Our client was sentenced to an intensive corrections order for 18 months.  A great result for our client.

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