Negligent Driving

What is negligent driving?

The offence of Negligent Driving and Negligent driving occasioning grievous bodily harm or death is found at section 117 of the Road Transport Act 2013.

Negligent driving occasioning grievous bodily harm or death are often successfully defended where there are no independent witnesses and it is your word against one other person or where crash investigation experts are able to establish that the version of events alleged by the police are incorrect.

It may also be possible to defend the charge on the basis this injury is not Grievous Bodily Harm, which is a high threshold for injury at law.

If you are charged with the offence of Negligent driving occasioning grievous bodily harm or death, your options will normally be to plead guilty or not guilty.

Pleading not guilty

You will be found not guilty of the offence of Negligent driving occasioning grievous bodily harm or death if the police cannot prove beyond reasonable doubt:

  1. You drove negligently;
  2. On a road or road related area; and
  3. By reason of your negligent driving grievous bodily harm (really serious harm) or death was occasioned to another.

Negligent driving is established where it is proved beyond reasonable doubt that you drove a motor vehicle in a manner involving a departure from the standard of care for other users of the road to be expected of the ordinary prudent driver in the circumstances.

Are there any other defences to Negligent Driving?

If the police are able to prove the above elements beyond reasonable, you will still be found not guilty if any of the following defences can be established:

Contact our offices in Sydney, Parramatta, Blacktown or Redfern to organise a time for one of our criminal lawyers to advise you of your prospects of successfully defending the charge of Negligent driving occasioning grievous bodily harm or death.

Pleading guilty

If you agree that you have committed the offence (and the police are able to prove so), it is best to plead guilty as you will normally receive a discount on sentence and it will demonstrate remorse and contrition. Alternatively, it may be the case that one of our experienced solicitors can negotiate with prosecutors for you to plead guilty to less serious facts or even a less serious charge.

Where the charge is negligent driving with no grievous bodily harm or death is caused the maximum penalty a court can impose is $1,100.00.

The maximum penalty for the offence of negligent driving causing grievous bodily harm is a fine of $2200.00 or imprisonment for 9 months or both (for a first offence). The mandatory period of disqualification is 12 months.

For a second or subsequent major offence, the maximum penalty is a fine of $3300.00 or imprisonment for 12 months, or both. The mandatory period of disqualification is 12 months.

The maximum penalty for the offence of negligent driving causing death is a fine of $3300.00 or imprisonment for 18 months or both (for a first offence). The minimum period of disqualification is 12 months.

For a second or subsequent major offence the maximum penalty is a fine of $5500.00 or imprisonment for 2 years or both. The minimum period of disqualification is 2 years.

Can I keep my licence if I am charged with Negligent Driving?

Where you are charged with this offence, a court cannot decline to record a disqualification or impose a disqualification less than the mandatory period unless your matter is dealt with by way of section 10 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act.

Depending on the circumstances of your offending and the number of times you have committed this offence, our lawyers are often able to convince a court to deal with this offence by way of section 10 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act, meaning no conviction will be recorded, there is no other penalty (including no disqualification) and you will have no criminal record. To find out more about a section 10, click here.

In deciding whether to deal with your matter by way of section 10, the court will consider, amongst other factors:

  • Your character (employment, family, charity)
  • Your criminal record (if any)
  • Your traffic record
  • The circumstances of you consuming alcohol
  • The circumstances of your driving
  • The deliberateness of your offending
  • Your need for a licence in particular for employment, family or medical reasons, or where you live in a remote area
  • Whether you have completed the Traffic Offenders Program

Do I need references for a Negligent Driving offence?

In order to obtain a section 10, driving suspended/disqualified cases should be tailored to address the above factors and matters unique to your own case. In order to give you the best chance of keeping your licence, it is recommended that you work closely with one of our solicitors to prepare your case. Your criminal lawyer will request you obtain references. If the offence is one that carries a loss of licence, the referees should state your needs for a licence. Below are some reasons a court may invoke for not recording, or reducing, a disqualification period.

Employment

Loss of employment is a classic reason for a court not disqualifying a person. If a person will lose their job if they lose their licence then the referee should put forward that assertion with absolute certainty. The court will see straight through waffle such as “his position may be reviewed”. For example:

A licence disqualification will prevent Joe Blog’s from fulfilling his duties and hence, if this occurs, he will be asked to temporarily leave his post until the disqualification lapses or if the disqualification is for more than 3 months, his employment will be terminated as per clause 8.2 of his contract enclosed herein. There is no discretion in this situation. He is a sales representative and our clients cannot be serviced by public transport.

Lack of public transport

No viable alternative transport is a matter the court may consider when deciding whether to impose a disqualification. This mainly applies to people in the country, but may apply if you are a shift worker, reside or work in an area not serviced by public transport, or to females who work late. For example:

Joe Blog’s works at Marayong Chickens in an industrial area where there is no public transport. He wakes up at 3am, leaves at 4am, and starts his shift at 5am. We have explored all options and, as he is the only licenced driver in our family, he has no way to get to work if he loses his licence. We have a mortgage and two school age children. Without a licence, he cannot get to work. Worse still, we’d have no way to get to the Richmond shops, a 20 minute drive from where we live on acreage.

Family responsibilities

Family reasons such as care for a child or elderly parents, sickness of yourself or another who relies upon your ability to drive, are matters a court may consider. For example:

Joe Blogs resigned from his job to look after our sick son as he is the only licenced driver in our family who could take him to his daily medical appointments. When he stopped working, I started a lower paying job. Even though it meant less money, it was the only way we could ensure our son received the treatment he needed. Joe is with our son 24 hours a day in case his conditions worsens and he needs to be taken to hospital. We simply cannot look after our son without a car.

A detailed guide to reference writing can be viewed here.

Other penalties a court in NSW can impose:

Why choose AC Law Group?

Our solicitors are experts at obtaining section 10 dismissals for Negligent Driving. To read more about AC Law Group, click here, and call us at Sydney, Parramatta, Blacktown and Redfern or or make a website inquiry today.

Case Study

AC Law Group solicitor represented a client charged with negligent driving occasioning grievous bodily harm in which the victim lost his leg…

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