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Dangerous Navigation Occasioning Death

Dangerous Navigation Occasioning Death is an offence under Section 52B 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 navigating a vessel
  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 drugs, or were navigating at a dangerous speed, or were navigating in a dangerous manner.

A ‘vessel’ means a water craft of any description that is used, or capable of being used, as a means of transportation on water.

An ‘impact’ is that which occurs through:

  1. The vessel overturning or running aground
  2. An impact with any object or person and the vessel
  3. An impact with another vessel
  4. An impact with anything attached to the vessel
  5. Falling from, or being ejected or thrown from, the vessel, and
  6. An impact between any object, including the water or ground, and a person due to the person protruding from the vessel.

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

  1. You had a ‘prescribed concentration of alcohol’ (PCA) in your breath or blood
  2. You exceeded the speed limit
  3. You were attempting to avoid a pursuit by a police officer, or
  4. You were ‘very substantially impaired’ by a drug or drugs

A PCA is a reading of at least 0.15.

You are presumed to have been under the influence of alcohol where you had the PCA in your breath or blood.

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 of 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 navigated, or
  3. The manner in which you navigated

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