There are a number of negligent driving offences, ranging in severity. Depending on the offence, penalties can include disqualification, to prison sentences.
Negligent driving not occasioning death or GBH is one of the least severe traffic offences there is. Police will sometimes charge you with negligent driving if you were found to be at fault in a collision. Unlike many other traffic offences, it doesn’t have a mandatory period of disqualification, although the court can impose a 12-month disqualification period if believed to be appropriate.
Negligent driving occasioning GBH is treated more severely, and has a maximum fine of $2,200 for a first offence, and $3,300 for a second or subsequent offence. There is a minimum disqualification period of 12 months with this offence, which increases to two years for a second or subsequent offence. Jail is a possibility with negligent driving occasioning GBH, with a nine-month maximum sentence for a first offence, and 12 months for further offences.
Negligent driving occasioning death comes with harsher penalties. If convicted, there is a maximum fine of $3,300 for a first offence, rising to $5,500 for a second or subsequent offence. There is also a minimum disqualification period of 12 months and a maximum jail term of 18 months for the first offence, and two years for subsequent offences. If you have been charged with negligent driving, particularly if this is not your first offence, it is a good idea to seek legal advice as soon as possible.
What does negligent driving mean?
Negligence is generally defined as a failure to take proper care, therefore to be proven guilty of negligent driving the prosecution need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you failed to take proper care when you were driving your vehicle. If there is any reason to doubt that you were driving negligently, you must be found not guilty.
What are some examples of negligent driving?
- Driving at excessive speed for the driving conditions
- Driving so close to the car in front that you can’t see the road ahead
- Failing to slow down or stop if you become dazzled by bright lights, particularly the headlights of the car in front
- Not providing enough warning when changing direction
- Failing to take care at intersections and/or reduce your speed
In order to successfully prosecute you for negligent driving, police must prove that you were driving the vehicle, and that it was being driven on a road or other related area. They must also prove that your driving was negligent, and it caused or contributed to the accident or collision.
What should I do if I am charged with negligent driving?
It is a good idea to seek legal advice if you are charged with negligent driving, particularly if someone was badly hurt, or you are charged with negligent driving occasioning death. The main defences used for negligent driving are duress and necessity, and if you can prove that you were driving in a negligent manner due to extenuating circumstances, you might be able to successfully defend yourself.
An experienced traffic lawyer can assess the evidence, and advise you whether or not you should plead guilty and what penalty you are likely to get. As the evidence in negligent driving cases is often circumstantial, there is a significant chance that an experienced lawyer will be able to help you reduce your penalty.