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Section 52A Crimes Act 1900
Dangerous Driving Occasioning Death or GBH

Dangerous Driving Occasioning Death is an offence under section 52A of the Crimes Act 1900 which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

To establish the offence, the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that:

  1. You were the driver of a motor vehicle
  2. You were involved in an impact causing the death of another person, and
  3. You were under the influence of alcohol or a drug, or you were driving at a dangerous speed, or you were driving in a dangerous manner

A ‘vehicle’ is defined as:

  1. Any motor car, motor carriage, motor cycle, or any other vehicle propelled, wholly or partly, by volatile spirit, steam, gas, oil, electricity, or by any other means other than human or animal power, or
  2. A horse-drawn vehicle

An ‘impact’ is that which occurs:

  1. between an object or a person and the vehicle
  2. between an object, including the ground, due to being thrown from the vehicle
  3. with another vehicle or object in, on or near a person
  4. with anything on or attached to the vehicle, or
  5. with anything in motion through falling from the vehicle

It also includes where:

  1. A vehicle overturns or leaves the road, or
  2. A person falls or is thrown or ejected from the vehicle

The maximum penalty increases to 14 years in prison where the offence is committed in ‘circumstances of aggravation’ which is where:

  1. You had a ‘prescribed concentration of alcohol’ in your bloodstream
  2. You exceeded the speed limit by more than 45 km/h, or
  3. You were ‘very substantially impaired’ by a drug or drugs

A ‘prescribed concentration of alcohol’ is a reading of at least 0.15.

You are presumed to have been under the influence of alcohol where you had the prescribed concentration of alcohol in your bloodstream.

A certificate of your alcohol or drug concentration is admissible as evidence as long as the analysis occurred within 2 hours after the impact, unless you are able to prove ‘on the balance of probabilities’ that the concentration was lower at the time impact.

A defence to the charge is that the death was not attributable in any way to:

  1. Being under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  2. The speed at which you drove, or
  3. The manner in which you drove.

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Dangerous Driving Occasioning Grievous Bodily Harm is an offence under section 52A of the Crimes Act 1900 which carries a maximum penalty of 7 years in prison.

To establish the offence, the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that:

  1. You were the driver of a motor vehicle
  2. You were involved in an impact that caused grievous bodily harm (GBH) to another, and
  3. You were under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or you were driving at a dangerous speed, or you were driving in a dangerous manner

A ‘vehicle’ is defined as:

  1. Any motor car, motor carriage, motor cycle, or any other vehicle propelled, wholly or partly, by volatile spirit, steam, gas, oil, electricity, or by any other means other than human or animal power, or
  2. A horse-drawn vehicle

An ‘impact’ is that which occurs:

  1. between an object or a person and the vehicle
  2. between an object, including the ground, due to being thrown from the vehicle
  3. with another vehicle or object in, on or near a person
  4. with anything on or attached to the vehicle, or
  5. with anything in motion through falling from the vehicle

It also includes where:

  1. a vehicle overturns or leaves the road, or
  2. a person falls or is thrown or ejected from the vehicle

‘Grievous bodily harm’ is defined by the courts as ‘very serious harm’ it includes but is not limited to:

  1. Any permanent or serious disfigurement
  2. The destruction of a foetus, other than by a medical procedure, and
  3. Any grievous bodily disease

The maximum penalty increases to 11 years in prison where the offence is committed in ‘circumstance of aggravation’ which is where:

  1. You had a ‘prescribed concentration of alcohol’ in your bloodstream
  2. You exceeded the speed limit by more than 45 km/h, or
  3. You were ‘very substantially impaired’ by a drug or drugs

A ‘prescribed concentration of alcohol’ is a reading of at least 0.15.

You are presumed to have been under the influence of alcohol where you had the prescribed concentration of alcohol in your bloodstream.

A certificate of your alcohol or drug concentration is admissible as evidence as long as the analysis occurred within 2 hours after the impact, unless you are able to prove ‘on the balance of probabilities’ that the concentration was lower at the time impact.

A defence to the charge is that the death was not attributable in any way to:

  1. Being under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  2. The speed at which you drive, or
  3. The manner in which you drove.

If you are going to court for Dangerous Driving, call Sydney Criminal Lawyers 24/7 on (02) 9261 8881 to arrange a free first conference with an experienced defence lawyer who will advise you of your options and the best way forward, and fight to secure the optimal outcome.

Read on for more information.

The Legislation

Section 52A of the Crimes Act 1900 deals with the offence of ‘Dangerous Driving’ and reads as follows:

52A Dangerous driving: substantive matters

(1) Dangerous driving occasioning death A person is guilty of the offence of dangerous driving occasioning death if the vehicle driven by the person is involved in an impact occasioning the death of another person and the driver was, at the time of the impact, driving the vehicle:
(a) under the influence of intoxicating liquor or of a drug, or
(b) at a speed dangerous to another person or persons, or
(c) in a manner dangerous to another person or persons.
A person convicted of an offence under this subsection is liable to imprisonment for 10 years.

(2) Aggravated dangerous driving occasioning death A person is guilty of the offence of aggravated dangerous driving occasioning death if the person commits the offence of dangerous driving occasioning death in circumstances of aggravation. A person convicted of an offence under this subsection is liable to imprisonment for 14 years.

(3) Dangerous driving occasioning grievous bodily harm A person is guilty of the offence of dangerous driving occasioning grievous bodily harm if the vehicle driven by the person is involved in an impact occasioning grievous bodily harm to another person and the driver was, at the time of the impact, driving the vehicle:
(a) under the influence of intoxicating liquor or of a drug, or
(b) at a speed dangerous to another person or persons, or
(c) in a manner dangerous to another person or persons.
A person convicted of an offence under this subsection is liable to imprisonment for 7 years.

(4) Aggravated dangerous driving occasioning grievous bodily harm A person is guilty of the offence of aggravated dangerous driving occasioning grievous bodily harm if the person commits the offence of dangerous driving occasioning grievous bodily harm in circumstances of aggravation. A person convicted of an offence under this subsection is liable to imprisonment for 11 years.

(5) When vehicle is involved in impact–generally For the purposes of this section, the circumstances in which a vehicle is involved in an impact occasioning the death of, or grievous bodily harm to, a person include if the death or harm is occasioned through any of the following:
(a) the vehicle overturning or leaving a road while the person is being conveyed in or on that vehicle (whether as a passenger or otherwise),
(b) an impact between any object and the vehicle while the person is being conveyed in or on that vehicle (whether as a passenger or otherwise),
(c) an impact between the person and the vehicle,
(d) the impact of the vehicle with another vehicle or an object in, on or near which the person is at the time of the impact,
(e) an impact with anything on, or attached to, the vehicle,
(f) an impact with anything that is in motion through falling from the vehicle,
(g) the person falling from the vehicle, or being thrown or ejected from the vehicle, while being conveyed in or on the vehicle (whether as a passenger or otherwise),
(h) an impact between any object (including the ground) and the person, as a consequence of the person (or any part of the person) being or protruding outside the vehicle, while the person is being conveyed in or on the vehicle (whether as a passenger or otherwise).

(6) When vehicle is involved in causing other impacts For the purposes of this section, a vehicle is also involved in an impact occasioning the death of, or grievous bodily harm to, a person if:
(a) the death or harm is occasioned through the vehicle causing an impact between other vehicles or between another vehicle and any object or person or causing another vehicle to overturn or leave a road, and
(b) the prosecution proves that the vehicle caused the impact.

(7) Circumstances of aggravation In this section, “circumstances of aggravation” means any circumstances at the time of the impact occasioning death or grievous bodily harm in which:
(a) the prescribed concentration of alcohol was present in the accused’s breath or blood, or
(b) the accused was driving the vehicle concerned on a road at a speed that exceeded, by more than 45 kilometres per hour, the speed limit (if any) applicable to that length of road, or
(c) the accused was driving the vehicle to escape pursuit by a police officer, or
(d) the accused’s ability to drive was very substantially impaired by the fact that the accused was under the influence of a drug (other than intoxicating liquor) or a combination of drugs (whether or not intoxicating liquor was part of that combination).

(8) Defences It is a defence to any charge under this section if the death or grievous bodily harm occasioned by the impact was not in any way attributable (as relevant):
(a) to the fact that the person charged was under the influence of intoxicating liquor or of a drug or a combination of drugs, or
(b) to the speed at which the vehicle was driven, or
(c) to the manner in which the vehicle was driven.

(9) Definitions In this section:”drug” has the same meaning as it has in the Road Transport (Safety and Traffic Management) Act 1999.”object” includes an animal, building, structure, earthwork, embankment, gutter, stormwater channel, drain, bridge, culvert, median strip, post or tree.”prescribed concentration of alcohol” means a concentration of 0.15 grammes or more of alcohol in 210 litres of breath or 100 millilitres of blood.”road” means:
(a) a road or road related area within the meaning of the Road Transport (General) Act 2005 (other than a road or road related area that is the subject of a declaration made under section 15 (1) (b) of that Act relating to all of the provisions of that Act), or
(b) any other place.
“vehicle” means:
(a) any motor car, motor carriage, motor cycle or other vehicle propelled wholly or partly by volatile spirit, steam, gas, oil, electricity, or by any other means other than human or animal power, or
(b) a horse-drawn vehicle,
whether or not it is adapted for road use, but does not mean a vehicle used on a railway or tramway.

Why Choose Sydney Criminal Lawyers®?

Going to court can be nerve-racking, but having a strong and compassionate legal team behind you can make the experience significantly easier to deal with. Here are 12 reasons to choose our multi-award winning legal team:

  1. Proven Track Record of Exceptional Results

    Sydney Criminal Lawyers® consistently achieves outcomes which are in the highest percentile of the Judicial Commission’s sentencing statistics for criminal cases.

    Our legal team devises effective case-strategies and fights hard to have cases dropped entirely or charges downgraded – saving clients the time, expense and stress of a defended hearing or jury trial.

    Where cases nevertheless proceed, our lawyers have an outstanding track record of winning defended Local Court hearings, and complex jury trials in the District and Supreme Courts.

    We also consistently win appeals in the District and Supreme Courts (including the NSWCCA) after clients have received unsatisfactory results with other law firms in the lower courts.We are one of the few firms to achieve successful criminal law appeals in the High Court of Australia.

    Where our clients wish to plead guilty, we frequently achieve ‘dismissals’ and ‘non convictions’ in cases where other lawyers have advised there is no chance of doing so.

  2. Highest Level of Client Satisfaction

    We have the best and most comprehensive client review record of any law firm in Australia.

    Regular communication, accessibility and quality service are our team’s highest priorities.

    We are committed to thoroughly explaining all steps involved in the criminal law process, providing regular updates throughout the proceedings, and making ourselves accessible and responsive.

    We are passionate about providing an exceptional level of service to our clients, and we fight hard to achieve optimal results in the shortest period of time.

  3. Australia’s Most Awarded Criminal Law Firm

    We have received more awards and accolades than any other criminal law firm in Australia. Our team has been awarded “Criminal Defence Firm of the Year in Australia” in a number of prestigious and competitive awards programs for several years running.

    The awards recognise our exceptional track record of results, our outstanding client service, the high level of satisfaction we achieve, the affordability of our services and our overall excellence.

  4. Fixed Fees

    We want our clients to know exactly how much their cases will cost from the very start. That’s why we were the first criminal law firm in Australia to publish ‘fixed fees’, back in 2004.

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    Unlike many other law firms, our fixed fees are published on our website – which ensures transparency and certainty.

  5. Free First Appointment

    For those who are going to court, we offer a free first conference of up to an hour with one of our Senior Criminal Defence Lawyers.

    We also offer a free first conference to those who have received an unsatisfactory result after being represented in court by another law firm, or after representing themselves, and wish to appeal.

  6. Specialist Lawyer Guarantee

    We guarantee that only lawyers with substantial criminal defence experience will work on your case and appear for you in court.

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  7. All NSW Courts

    From Bombala to Broken Hill, our lawyers appear in courts throughout New South Wales – and across Australia for Commonwealth cases.

    And we offer fixed fees for most criminal and traffic law cases throughout the state.

  8. Accredited Specialists

    Our entire firm is exclusively dedicated to criminal law – which makes us true specialists.

    All of our lawyers have years of experience representing clients in criminal cases, and our principal has been certified by the Law Society of NSW as an Accredited Criminal Law Specialist since 2005.

    An ‘Accredited Specialist’ is a lawyer who has practised for at least 5 years in a particular field of law (such as criminal law), has passed a rigorous assessment process conducted by the Law Society of NSW, and has been selected by the Specialist Accreditation Committee of the Law Society as an expert in the field.

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  9. Results-Focused Law Firm

    Our team is passionate about achieving results, and unlike many other law firms, our lawyers do not have monthly financial ‘budgets’ to meet.

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  11. Familiar with Magistrates and Judges

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  12. Convenience

    We have offices in locations across the Sydney Metropolitan Area and beyond, including:

    • the Sydney CBD, on Castlereagh Street, directly opposite Downing Centre Court,
    • Liverpool, directly opposite Liverpool Local Court, and
    • Parramatta, near the justice precinct.

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    If you are going to court and wish to arrange a free first consultation, call our 24 hour hotline on (02) 9261 8881 or send us an email at info@sydneycriminallawyers.com.au.

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