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Dangerous Driving Occasioning Death

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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