Traffic Lawyers for Negligent Driving – s 117 Road Transport Act 2013 (NSW)


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Under the law, there are three different negligent driving offences:

  • Negligent driving
  • Negligent driving occasioning grievous bodily harm
  • Negligent driving occasioning death

Negligent driving broadly refers to situations where you cause an accident, however your manner of driving is not reckless or dangerous enough to bring about a more serious charge, such as ‘reckless driving’ or ‘dangerous driving.’

For example, you could be charged with negligent driving where you were not paying attention to the road, or you did not comply with road rules, and you caused an accident.

Although it is the least serious ‘dangerous driving’ offence, negligent driving can still result in harsh penalties, especially if you have been charged with negligent driving occasioning grievous bodily harm or death.

These cases can also be confronting and emotionally draining.

But with the help of Sydney’s most experienced lawyers, you can ensure that you get the best possible advice, as well as effective legal representation, to help you win your negligent driving case.

Your Options in Court

Pleading Not Guilty

If you have been charged with negligent driving, but you feel that you are not to blame, you can fight the charges in court by pleading ‘not guilty.’

To be found guilty of negligent driving, the prosecution must prove two factors beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • That you were driving a vehicle
  • That you were not exercising ‘the degree of care and attention that a reasonable and prudent driver would exercise in the circumstances’

If you have been charged with ‘negligent driving occasioning grievous bodily harm,’ the prosecution must also prove that you caused another person ‘really serious harm,’ such as permanent and serious disfigurement. Examples include broken bones, damage to internal organs, or the killing of a foetus.

Alternatively, if you are charged with ‘negligent driving occasioning death,’ the prosecution must prove that you caused the death of another person.

If you don’t believe that the prosecution will be able to prove these elements beyond a reasonable doubt you may wish to consider pleading ‘not guilty.’

Our highly experienced traffic lawyers will examine all the evidence carefully to identify any problems with the prosecution case. Where issues are found, we can raise these with the prosecution and ask for the charges to be dropped before the matter ends up in court – saving you time and money.

However, sometimes the prosecution will not agree to drop the charges. In these cases, our traffic lawyers can help you put together a compelling case to prove your innocence in court.

We can assist you in obtaining all relevant evidence, as well as expert witnesses, such as crash investigators, who may be able to provide testimony to support your case.

For example, if you believed that you were exercising a reasonable degree of care and attention given the circumstances, you can contest the charges and give evidence in court to support your claim.

Courts will determine the ‘degree of care and attention’ used by considering the circumstances of the accident, including weather, road and traffic conditions.

You can also plead ‘not guilty’ if you want to raise a defence to explain your actions, for example:

  • Where you were coerced or threatened into driving negligently (duress)
  • Where you drove negligently to avoid serious injury or danger (necessity)
  • Where you were reasonably mistaken as to the road rules or speed limit (reasonable mistake of fact)
Pleading Guilty

If you are willing to accept the charges against you, you may wish to plead guilty from the outset.

Pleading guilty at an early stage may help you get a better outcome in your case, as it shows the magistrate or judge that you have accepted fault for your actions. This may encourage them to give you a more lenient penalty.

However, before entering a plea to any offence, you should always speak to an experienced traffic lawyer, who will be able to advise you on whether there is some way for you to fight the charges.

You should also be aware of the maximum penalties that may apply. The maximum penalties for negligent driving depend on what you have been charged with:

Relevant section If you have been charged with… The maximum penalty is…
S 117(1)(a) Road Transport Act 2013 Negligent driving occasioning death

First offence: A fine of $3,300 and/or 18 months imprisonment. The ‘automatic’ period of disqualification is 3 years, but the court can reduce this to a minimum disqualification period of 12 months. The maximum disqualification is unlimited.

Second/subsequent offence: A fine of $5,500 and/or 2 years imprisonment. The ‘automatic’ period of disqualification is 5 years, but the court can reduce this to a minimum disqualification period of 2 years. The maximum disqualification is unlimited.

S 117(1)(b) Road Transport Act 2013 Negligent driving occasioning grievous bodily harm

First offence: A fine of $2,200 and/or 9 months imprisonment. The ‘automatic’ period of disqualification is 3 years, but the court can reduce this to a minimum disqualification period of 12 months. However, the maximum disqualification is unlimited.

Second/subsequent offence: A fine of $3,300 and/or 12 months imprisonment. The ‘automatic’ period of disqualification is 5 years, but the court can reduce this to a minimum disqualification period of 2 years. The maximum disqualification is unlimited.

S 117(1)(c) Road Transport Act 2013 Negligent driving NOT causing death or grievous bodily harm A fine of $1,100. The court may also choose to disqualify you from driving for 12 months.

It’s important to remember that these penalties are maximums, which means that they will only be imposed in the most serious cases.

Our traffic law specialists can help you prepare effective sentencing submissions which highlight any positive factors, such as your good character or your low likelihood of reoffending.

These compelling submissions can help persuade the magistrate or judge to deal with the matter in a more lenient manner – for example, using a good behaviour bond, or even a ‘section 10 dismissal or conditional release order’ (where you are found guilty but no conviction is recorded, and you are not disqualified from driving).

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 ResultsSydney 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 SatisfactionWe 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 FirmWe 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 FeesWe 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 AppointmentFor 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 GuaranteeWe 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 CourtsFrom 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 SpecialistsOur 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 FirmOur 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 YouOur 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 JudgesEach 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. ConvenienceWe have offices in locations across the Sydney Metropolitan Area and beyond, including:
    • the Sydney CBD, on Castlereagh Street, directly opposite Downing Centre Court,
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    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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