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Dangerous Driving

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Dangerous driving or operation of a motor vehicle is a serious criminal offence in Queensland. It is important that you engage a competent Brisbane Traffic Lawyer for advice as consequences can be incredibly severe.

Section 328A(6) of the Queensland Criminal Code 1899 states that:

to operate, or in any way interfere with the operation of, a vehicle at speed or in a way that is dangerous to the public, having regard to all the circumstances.”

The circumstances that a court has regard to when determining whether driving was “dangerous” include:

Many drivers are unaware that intent is not a required element to dangerous driving.

You can also be charged for dangerous driving if you fail to see a motorcyclist, get distracted temporarily and fall asleep at the wheel and cause harm to another.

Some specific classifications of dangerous driving include:

  • Hooning
    • Doing donuts, burnouts, drifting, revving engines, screeching brakes and skidding.
  • Street Racing
    • Drag racing, rolling road blocks, time trials and speeding.
  • Driving Recklessly
    • Deliberately endangering other road users, for example by dangerously weaving in and out of traffic.
  • Ignoring Road Rules
    • Showing a “blatant disregard” for road rules and signs

Penalties

At first instance, penalties for dangerous driving may be:

  • Fines of up to 200 penalty units ($23,560);
  • A lengthy disqualification of a driver’s licence; and
  • Up to 3 years imprisonment.

If the accused was affected by intoxicating substances, excessively speeding, unlawfully racing or has been convicted for a similar offence, heavier penalties may be imposed, including:

  • Fines of up to 400 penalty units ($47,120);
  • Up to 5 years imprisonment

If an individual is killed or grievously injured by dangerous driving, a charge of dangerous driving causing injury or death may be pressed. This could result in a  maximum sentence for 10 years , or 14 years imprisonment if the accused was affected by intoxicating substances, excessively speeding, unlawfully racing or leaves the scene of the accident.

Additionally, under new anti-hooning laws, a dangerous driving charge can include impoundment of a motor vehicle for up to 90 days. The vehicle may even be forfeited to the state if the accused re-offends.

Are there defences?

Defences to a dangerous driving charge include:

  1. Unsatisfactory road conditions;
  2. Vehicle defects;
  3. Emergency or extreme circumstances;
  4. Environmental factors;
  5. Duress, that is, being unlawfully influenced to drive dangerously against the will or better judgement of the accused;
  6. Necessity, that is, that the unlawful act is justified by preventing more serious harm from occurring; and
  7. Any other significant facts the court may consider.

Many situations may not call for a complete defence; but a submission that the charge be downgraded from dangerous driving to “driving without due care and attention” (commonly known as “careless driving”).

It must be noted that mounting any defence to dangerous driving is usually incredibly complex, especially in cases where there has been severe injury or death. As imprisonment is a likely outcome, it is vital to obtain adequate legal advice around the issue.