Reckless driving refers to situations where you drive in a manner that creates an ‘obvious and serious risk of causing physical injury to any other road user or substantial damage to property.’
Reckless driving therefore includes situations where you ‘drive furiously’ or at a dangerous speed.
Reckless driving may give rise to onerous penalties that can impede your ability to work and travel, such as being disqualified from driving and even prison sentences.
However, you can give yourself the best chance at avoiding these harsh penalties by enlisting the help of an experienced traffic lawyer who has the knowledge and experience necessary to effectively fight the charges and secure a positive outcome in your case.
Your Options in Court
Pleading Not Guilty
If you’ve been charged with any offence, you will have to decide whether to plead ‘guilty’ or ‘not guilty.’
If you choose to plead ‘not guilty’, you will be able to fight the charges in court to prove your innocence.
It is important to remember that before you can be found ‘guilty’ by the court, the prosecution must prove two ‘essential elements’ beyond a reasonable doubt:
- That you drove a vehicle on a public road
- That you drove in a manner that creates an obvious and serious risk of causing physical injury to other road users or property
If you have been charged with reckless driving due to excessive speed, the police must also prove that the safety of another a member of the public, such as a passenger or another road user, was put in danger. It will not be enough for them to show that you were speeding excessively.
In determining whether you drove recklessly, the court will consider the circumstances of the offence, such as the nature, condition and use of the road, the amount of traffic or pedestrians on the road, and the manner in which you drove.
If you are unsure about whether the prosecution will be able to prove both of these elements beyond a reasonable doubt, our highly experienced criminal lawyers will be able to advise you of any ways in which you can fight the charges.
We will write to police explaining your side of the story and highlighting any problems with their case. In many cases, we are able to have charges dropped at an early stage on this basis.
For example, you may be able to argue that the manner in which you drove was not dangerous, or that your actions were not dangerous in the conditions.
If the police refuse to drop the charges against you, our outstanding advocates will fight hard to protect your innocence in court by raising all relevant evidence and calling favourable witnesses who can support your case.
We can also help you raise a defence to explain or justify your actions – for example:
- Where you were coerced or threatened into driving in a reckless manner (duress)
- Where you drove in a reckless manner to avoid serious injury or danger (necessity)
- Where you were reasonably mistaken as to the road rules or speed limit (reasonable mistake of fact)
The experts at Sydney Criminal Lawyers® specialise in traffic law and can give you the advice you need when it comes to fighting your ‘furious or reckless driving’ case.
If you are not willing to fight the charges in court, or if you accept the allegations against you, you can plead guilty at the beginning of the case.
Pleading guilty early on can help you get a better outcome, as it will show the court that you have accepted responsibility for your actions.
This often persuades the magistrate to give you a more lenient penalty than what you would have received if you were found guilty by the court.
You will also avoid the costs and time involved in a hearing or trial.
However, you should always speak to an experienced traffic lawyer before pleading guilty, as you may be able to fight the charges in some way, even if it is not obvious.
You should also be aware of the maximum penalties that you could face if you plead guilty.
The maximum penalties depend on whether it’s your first offence, or if you have committed other ‘major traffic offences’ in the past five years.
S 117 of the Crimes Act says that if it’s your first offence, you face a maximum fine of $2,200 and/or a maximum prison sentence of 9 months imprisonment.
There is also an automatic disqualification period of three years, however the Court can reduce this to the minimum of 12 months if there are good reasons to do so. Good reasons may include:
- A strong need for a licence;
- A clean traffic record.
If it is your second or more ‘major traffic offence’ within the last five years, you will face a harsher maximum penalty $3,300, imprisonment for 12 months and a 5 year licence disqualification which can be reduced to a minimum of 2 years.
Because these penalties are harsh and can have a serious impact on your ability to work and travel, it’s important to get the best lawyers to represent you in court.
As Sydney’s leading traffic lawyers, we pride ourselves on our ability to obtain the most favourable results in ‘furious or reckless driving’ matters, even when the charges are serious.
In many cases, our specialist traffic lawyers may even be able to convince the magistrate to deal with the matter by way of a ‘section 10 dismissal or conditional release order,’ which is where you are found guilty of the offence but no conviction is recorded on your criminal record, and you get to keep your licence.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.