There are a number of penalties you face if you are charged with negligent driving. Court imposed fines are the most common penalty, but depending on the severity of the offence, and whether anyone else was harmed, you might find yourself facing a potential prison sentence of up to 10 years.
Negligent driving offences are categorised according to the outcome of the negligent driving behaviour. The main negligent driving offences are:
- Negligent driving occasioning death
- Negligent driving occasioning grievous bodily harm
- Negligent driving not occasioning death or GBH
Negligent driving not occasioning death or GBH is the least severe dangerous driving offence, and it carries a maximum penalty of a $1,100 fine. It is the only dangerous driving offence that you won’t be automatically disqualified for. The court will decide whether a disqualification period is necessary, and if so, the maximum you will get will be 12 months. In many cases, having a good lawyer can help you avoid being disqualified.
Negligent driving occasioning grievous bodily harm comes with a maximum court imposed fine of $2,200 for a first offence, and $3,300 for a second or subsequent offence. Whether or not grievous bodily harm has been sustained is judged by the seriousness of any injuries, and the extent of the medical treatment required. In order to be found guilty of negligent driving occasioning grievous bodily harm, the police need to prove that there was grievous bodily harm to a person, and that you were the one driving at the time.
Negligent driving occasioning death is the most severe negligent driving offence, and carries a maximum court fine of $3,300 for the first offence and $5,500 for second or subsequent offences. There are other penalties that are associated with a negligent driving occasioning death conviction, including disqualification, and a potential prison sentence. If you have been charged with negligent driving occasioning death, it is essential that you seek legal advice and representation.
Generally, if you are facing a less serious negligent driving offence, you will not be required to go to court as long as you pay the court imposed fine. If you wish to contest the charges, or ask for them to be dismissed, you may be required to make an appearance at the magistrate’s court. Your lawyer will put forth your case, and the magistrate will decide whether or not you are guilty. Before you automatically plead guilty to a negligent driving offence, it is a good idea to seek legal advice. Many people are not aware that it is possible to defend a charge of negligent driving, or even have the charges dismissed in some cases.
Proving a more serious negligent driving case is not as straightforward as you might believe. For you to be found guilty of negligent driving occasioning grievous bodily harm or death, the police need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that death or GBH occurred as a result of your driving behaviour. There are a number of defences to negligent driving, including duress and necessity. If the police can’t prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were under the influence of alcohol or drugs, that you were driving too fast, or that you were driving in a dangerous manner when the alleged incident occurred, you might be able to escape conviction or have your charges reduced.