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Traffic Lawyers for Dangerous Driving – s 52 Crimes Act 1900 (NSW)

The Crimes Act 1900 contains several ‘dangerous driving’ offences, with each carrying different penalties to reflect the seriousness of the offence.

Being charged with a dangerous driving offence can be a distressing and emotional experience which can result in serious outcomes including gaol.

Because of the seriousness of the penalties that can apply in these cases, it’s vital that you get an experienced traffic lawyer on your side who can effectively defend you or push to have the matters dropped outside of court.

The skilled lawyers at Sydney Criminal Lawyers® are the experts when it comes to defending serious traffic matters.

With years of experience defending and winning ‘dangerous driving’ matters, you can count on us to give you the best possible defence in your dangerous driving case.

Dangerous Driving Occasioning Death - s 52A (1) Crimes Act 1900

Your Options

Pleading Not Guilty

Before you enter a plea of guilty to any offence, you should always consider whether there is any way that you can plead ‘not guilty’ and fight the charges in court.

In the case of dangerous driving occasioning death, the prosecution must prove two things beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • That you were involved in a collision that caused the death of another person
  • At the time of the collision, you were driving the vehicle in manner that was dangerous to other persons, OR that you were under the influence of an intoxicating drug or alcohol, OR that you were driving at a speed that was dangerous to another person or persons.

If you feel that the prosecution is unable to prove either of the above points, you should consider entering a plea of ‘not guilty’ to the charges.

Our highly experienced traffic law specialists can then help you fight the charges in court to prove your innocence and escape a conviction.

Our dedicated lawyers will attempt to identify any problems with the prosecution evidence – when raised at an early stage, these problems may result in the charges getting dropped outside of court.

Alternatively, if the prosecution refuses to drop the charges, we will put forward all relevant evidence to prove your side of the story; for example, where the accident was not your fault, or where you were not driving in a dangerous manner.

Our expert lawyers will compile all relevant evidence that can support your case – for example, we can collect data or evidence from expert witnesses to show that you were not affected by drugs or alcohol at the time of the offence, or to show that you were not driving at a dangerous speed.

We can also help you raise any defences to the charges – for example, where you were threatened or coerced into driving in a dangerous manner (duress).

Pleading Guilty

Alternatively, if you don’t want to fight the charges, you might choose to plead guilty from the outset.

In some cases, pleading guilty at an early stage can be beneficial, as it shows to the court that you have accepted responsibility for your actions.

This may help you achieve a more lenient penalty than if you had been found guilty by the court.

However, before you decide to plead guilty, you should always speak to a senior traffic lawyer who has experience dealing with these types of matters.

This is because, although it may not be obvious, there may be some way in which you can fight the charges and be found ‘not guilty.’

If you’ve made the choice to plead guilty, it’s important for you to be aware of the maximum penalties that could apply in your case.

Under s 52A (1) of the Crimes Act, the maximum penalty for dangerous driving occasioning death is 10 years’ imprisonment.

However, this is the maximum penalty which applies in the most serious cases only, and the actual penalty that you will receive depends on the facts and circumstances of your case.

The case of R v Whyte [2001] also provides some guidance as to the type of penalty that you will face – in that case it was held that in a typical case where you had a high level of responsibility or “moral culpability” for the accident, a total sentence (including a non-parole period) of less than three years is not appropriate.

Despite the harsh penalties that may be imposed, you can maximise your chances of obtaining a lighter penalty by engaging one of our highly experienced traffic lawyers.

Our lawyers will fight hard to have the charges reduced so that you face lower maximum penalties.

Our expert defence team is highly skilled in preparing and presenting effective sentencing submissions and will ensure that the facts and circumstances of your case are communicated in the most positive light in court to persuade the judge to impose a more lenient penalty.

The various penalties that the court can impose include:

Aggravated Dangerous Driving Occasioning Death - s 52A (2) Crimes Act 1900

Your Options

Pleading Not Guilty

Like any other offence, before you can be found guilty of ‘aggravated dangerous driving occasioning death,’ the prosecution must prove certain factors beyond a reasonable doubt. These are:

  • That you were involved in a collision that caused the death of another person
  • At the time of the collision, you were driving the vehicle in manner that was dangerous to other persons, OR that you were under the influence of an intoxicating drug or alcohol, OR that you were driving at a speed that was dangerous to another person or persons.
  • At least one ‘aggravating circumstance.’

There are four ‘aggravating circumstances’ under the law:

  • Where you had more than 0.15 grammes or more of alcohol in 210 litres of breath or 100 millilitres of blood (high range drink driving) OR
  • Where you were driving on a road at more than 45 kilometres over the speed limit OR
  • Where you were driving the vehicle to escape a police pursuit OR
  • Where your ability to drive was affected by an intoxicating drug (other than alcohol) or a combination of drugs (which may have included alcohol).

If you don’t believe that the prosecution will be able to prove each of the factors of this offence, as well as at least one ‘aggravating circumstance’ beyond a reasonable doubt, you should speak to our expert traffic lawyers about pleading ‘not guilty.’

We can advise you of the steps you can take to fight the charges and can assist you in putting forth a compelling defence by finding problems with the prosecution case – for example, where the speed that you were travelling at was inconsistent with what the prosecution alleged.

If the matter ends up in court, our Accredited Criminal Law Specialists will fight hard to win your case by persuasively putting forth all evidence that supports your case and by calling expert witnesses, such as crash investigators to give evidence.

We can also advise you of the defences you may raise to explain your actions – for example, where you were coerced or threatened into driving in a dangerous manner.

Our outstanding lawyers may also be able to dispute one of the aggravating circumstances – if disputed successfully, you may face the lesser charge of ‘dangerous driving occasioning death,’ which carries a lower maximum penalty.

Pleading Guilty

Alternatively, you might wish to simply accept the charges against you. If this is the case, it may be in your best interests to plead guilty at an early stage in the proceedings.

By pleading guilty at an early stage, you could end up with a more lenient penalty than if you were found guilty following a trial or a defended hearing.

This is because, by pleading guilty, you will have shown to the judge that you have accepted responsibility for your actions.

However, before entering a plea of guilty to any offence, it’s important that you obtain sound advice from an experienced criminal lawyer, as there may be some way that you can fight the charges, even if it isn’t immediately obvious. Our traffic law experts will be happy to assist with this.

If you decide to plead guilty, it’s also important to be aware of the maximum penalties that could apply in your case.

In the case of aggravated dangerous driving occasioning death, s 52A (2) of the Crimes Act says that the maximum penalty if 14 years’ imprisonment.

However, this is a maximum penalty only. The type of penalty that you will receive in your situation will depend on all the facts and circumstances of your case – in particular the level of ‘moral culpability’ or personal responsibility that you had.

This means that if the accident was caused by a minor misjudgement, you will most likely face a lower penalty than someone who deliberately attempted to drive in a dangerous manner.

Ultimately, the judge will make a decision after hearing all the evidence from both sides – which is why it’s important that you get an experienced lawyer who can prepare a compelling defence case.

Our highly skilled lawyers will help present effective sentencing submissions that minimise your ‘moral culpability,’ and enable you to secure the best possible outcome in your dangerous driving case.

We will also push to have the charges reduced from ‘aggravated dangerous driving’ to ‘dangerous driving,’ which carries lesser penalties.

The various penalties that the court can impose include:

Dangerous Driving Occasioning Grievous Bodily Harm - s 52A (3) Crimes Act 1900

Your Options

Pleading Not Guilty

Dangerous driving occasioning grievous bodily harm refers to situations where you drive dangerously and cause an accident which results in grievous bodily harm to another person.

Grievous bodily harm is defined as ‘really serious harm’ – including permanent and serious disfigurement. Examples include broken bones, damage to internal organs, or the killing of a foetus.

Before you can be found guilty of dangerous driving occasioning grievous bodily harm, the prosecution must prove two things beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • That you were involved in a collision that caused another person to suffer grievous bodily harm
  • At the time of the collision, you were driving the vehicle in manner that was dangerous to other persons, OR that you were under the influence of an intoxicating drug or alcohol, OR that you were driving at a speed that was dangerous to another person or persons.

If you are unsure about whether the prosecution will be able to prove these two factors beyond a reasonable doubt, you should discuss the possibility of pleading ‘not guilty’ with our expert traffic lawyers.

Our expert defence team has considerable experience winning complex dangerous driving cases. We possess the necessary skills and knowledge to ensure that you get the best advice and representation in your case.

We always attempt to have the charges dropped outside of court by identifying issues with the prosecution case at an early stage; for example, by disputing the speed that the police alleged you were travelling at.

If the matter does proceed to court, you can count on our Accredited Criminal Law Specialists to fight hard to win your case.

We can also advise you of any defences to explain your actions; for example, where you were coerced or threatened into driving in a dangerous manner.

Pleading Guilty

If you do not want to plead ‘not guilty,’ you may wish to talk to our lawyers about the possibility of pleading ‘guilty.’

In some cases, it may actually be beneficial for you to plead guilty at an early stage in the proceedings, because it can help you achieve a ‘discount’ on your sentence.

This means that the judge will recognise that you have accepted responsibility for the offence and will give you a more lenient sentence than if you had been found guilty by the court.

However, before pleading guilty to any offence, it’s important that you speak to an experienced traffic lawyer, as there may be some way to fight the charges and be found innocent. This means that you will escape a conviction and a penalty.

If you are thinking about pleading guilty, it’s also important to be aware of the maximum penalties that you could face.

Under the law, the maximum penalty for dangerous driving occasioning grievous bodily harm is 7 years imprisonment.

However, this is the maximum penalty – meaning that it will only be applied in the most serious dangerous driving cases. Usually, you will receive a penalty that is lower than the maximum.

The case of R v Whyte [2001] also provides some guidance as to the type of penalty that could apply in these cases – in that case, it was held that a gaol sentence of less than two years would ‘not generally be appropriate’ where your moral culpability (personal responsibility for the accident) was high.

This means that you are likely to receive a total gaol sentence of 2 years imprisonment or more, however you could receive a lower sentence where your ‘moral culpability’ is low – for example, where the accident was caused by a small misjudgement or inattention rather than a deliberate attempt to speed or drive dangerously.

However, ultimately the type of sentence that you will get will be determined by the judge after hearing your case – which is why it’s important to ensure that you have an experienced lawyer who will be able to put forth your case in the most positive light.

Our lawyers are well-versed in preparing compelling ‘sentencing submissions’ in serious criminal and traffic matters and can help you put forth the facts and circumstances of your case in a way that allows you to obtain the most lenient penalty possible.

The types of penalties that the court can impose include:

Aggravated Dangerous Driving Occasioning Grievous Bodily Harm - s 52A (4) Crimes Act 1900

Your Options

Pleading Not Guilty

Before you can be found guilty of aggravated dangerous driving occasioning grievous bodily harm, the prosecution must prove three things beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • hat you were involved in a collision that caused grievous bodily harm to another person
  • At the time of the collision, you were driving the vehicle in manner that was dangerous to other persons, OR that you were under the influence of an intoxicating drug or alcohol, OR that you were driving at a speed that was dangerous to another person or persons.
  • At least one ‘aggravating circumstance’

An ‘aggravating circumstance’ is a factor that makes the offence more serious. There are four aggravating circumstances recognised under the law, but it is only necessary for the prosecution to prove one of these:

  • Where you had more than 0.15 grammes or more of alcohol in 210 litres of breath or 100 millilitres of blood (high range drink driving) OR
  • Where you were driving on a road at more than 45 kilometres over the speed limit OR
  • Where you were driving the vehicle to escape a police pursuit OR
  • Where your ability to drive was affected by an intoxicating drug (other than alcohol) or a combination of drugs (which may have included alcohol).

If you are unsure about whether the prosecution will be able to prove the elements of the offence, including at least one ‘aggravating circumstance,’ you should speak to our experienced traffic lawyers about possibly pleading ‘not guilty.’

Our traffic law experts can help you share your side of the story in court to prove your innocence.

We strive to get the best result in every case and work hard to obtain all relevant evidence to support your case; including any expert witnesses who may bolster your case, such as crash investigators.

We can also help you identify any defences to explain your actions, such as where you were threatened or coerced into driving dangerously (duress).

Regardless of the facts of your case, it is important that you speak to an experienced traffic lawyer if you are charged with aggravated dangerous driving occasioning grievous bodily harm.

The courts take these types of offences very seriously, however our traffic law experts will be able to explain the charges to you and assist you in understanding how to fight the charges.

Pleading Guilty

If you wish to accept the charges against you, you might wish to enter a plea of ‘guilty’ as soon as possible.

Pleading guilty at an early stage may be beneficial, as it will show that you have accepted responsibility for your wrongdoing.

This may persuade the judge to give you a ‘discount’ on your sentence, or a more lenient penalty than you otherwise would have received if you had been found guilty following a trial or hearing.

However, before pleading guilty to any offence, you should speak to our experienced criminal lawyers who will be able to advise you on whether there is any way to fight the charges and be found ‘not guilty.’

It’s also important to be aware of the maximum penalties that could apply if you are pleading guilty. Under the law, the maximum penalty for aggravated dangerous driving occasioning grievous bodily harm is 11 years imprisonment.

However, this is the maximum penalty, meaning that it will only apply in the most serious cases. Often, you will receive a penalty that is lower than the maximum, depending on the facts and circumstances of your case.

In R v Whyte [2001] it was held that in a typical case where you had a high level of responsibility or “moral culpability” for the accident, a total sentence (including a non-parole period) of less than three years is not appropriate.

This means that you will likely receive a total sentence of three years imprisonment or more, particularly where there are ‘aggravating factors’ present.

At the end of the day, it is up to the magistrate to decide what type of penalty will apply in your case, after hearing your lawyer’s sentencing submissions.

This is why it is particularly important to choose an experienced traffic lawyer who will be able to give you the best possible representation.

Our lawyers are highly skilled in preparing compelling “sentencing submissions” which highlight any mitigating factors which can assist you in obtaining a more lenient penalty.

The types of penalties that the court can impose include:

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.

    We offer fixed fees for most types of criminal cases and services.Our fixed fees apply to a range of Local Court cases such as drink driving, drug possession, fraud, common assault and AVOs, and also specific services such as prison visits, bail applications, appeals and defended hearings.

    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.

    This ensures our clients receive the highest quality representation from an experienced, specialist criminal lawyer.

  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.

    Accredited Specialists are required to undertake more training each year than other lawyers and must be successful in having their accreditation renewed every year. Specialist Accreditation is the mark of a true specialist.

    Our firm’s specialist experience ensures you receive the best possible result, whatever your criminal law case may be.

  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.

    The absence of budgets means our lawyers are entirely focused on achieving optimal results in the shortest space of time; whether by getting charges dropped or downgraded at an early stage or having cases ‘thrown out of court’.

    Not having budgets also means our lawyers are not under pressure to engage in unscrupulous practices such as unnecessarily adjourning cases or ‘overcharging’ clients – which, sadly, is a common complaint against many other lawyers and law firms.

    No budgets encourages regular consultation between lawyers within the firm – promoting an ‘open door’, team environment where lawyers bounce ideas off one another, formulate case strategy together and benefit from each other’s specialised experience, methods, techniques and insights.

    The result is a firm which delivers optimal outcomes in the shortest time periods, at the least expense and stress to our clients.

  10. Team of Lawyers Behind You

    Our clients benefit from the pool of knowledge that only an extensive team of experienced criminal defence lawyers can provide.

    Our lawyers regularly consult one another to stay ‘ahead of the pack’ in the ever-changing field of criminal law – constantly devising, refining and implementing specialised techniques which ensure our clients achieve the best possible outcomes.

    A team approach is particularly important when it comes to serious criminal cases such as murder, commercial drug cases, serious and sexual assaults, large-scale fraud, robbery and other ‘indictable’ cases.

    In such matters, clients reap the benefits of several lawyers devising and executing case strategies which maximise the chances of having cases dropped or downgraded at an early stage, or ‘thrown out of court’ – often saving clients a great deal of cost, time and anxiety.

  11. Familiar with Magistrates and Judges

    Each of our lawyers appears in court on a daily basis, and has done so for years. We have therefore been able to develop an understanding of, and rapport with, magistrates and judges in Sydney and indeed across the state.

    Our team’s extensive experience before the courts ensures your case is tailored to the specific nuances of individual judicial officers, maximising the likelihood of a favourable result.

  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.

    We offer free parking at our Sydney CBD and Liverpool locations, and all of our offices are close to train stations and bus terminals.

    For those who are unable to attend our offices, we offer conferences by telephone, Skye and FaceTime anywhere around the world.

    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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