Dangerous driving

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What Is Dangerous Driving?

The various kinds of dangerous driving offences are set out in section 52A of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) are as follows;

  1. Dangerous driving occasioning grievous bodily harm; and
  2. Aggravated dangerous driving occasioning grievous bodily harm.
  3. Dangerous driving occasioning death; and
  4. Aggravated dangerous driving occasioning death; and

Case law/Jurisdiction

An offence of Dangerous Driving is what is known as a Table 1 offence under the relevant legislation, which means it is to be dealt with in the Local Court unless an election is it is to be dealt with on indictment by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

The nature and elements of the offence of Dangerous Driving  were considered in R v Atkinson (1970) 55 Cr App R 1 where it was held a mechanical defect in a motorcar will be a defence to a charge of Dangerous Driving if it causes sudden los of control and is no way due to any fault on the part of the driver.

The Law

Section 52A (5) of the Crimes Act 1900

S52A (5) sets out a number of ways an impact involving the death of, or grievous bodily harm to, a person can occur: –

  1. The vehicle overturned, or left the road whilst conveying the deceased in or on that vehicle (whether or not he or she was a passenger or otherwise);
  2. A collision (impact) between the vehicle and any object, whilst the deceased was in or on the vehicle;
  3. A collision between the deceased and the vehicle;
  4. A collision between your vehicle and another vehicle;
  5. A collision between your vehicle and an object in which, or on which, or near which, the deceased was at the time of the impact.
  6. An impact with anything on, or attached to your vehicle;
  7. An impact with anything falling from the vehicle.

Aggravating factors

The Court will take into consideration any aggravating factors involved in your case some examples include: –

  • The injuries inflicted;
  • Degree of speed;
  • Showing off or competitive driving;
  • Degree of intoxication or of substance abuse;
  • Erratic or aggressive driving;
  • Number of people put at risk;
  • Length of the journey during which others were exposed to risk;
  • Failure to heed warnings;
  • Being involved in a police pursuit;
  • Degree of sleep deprivation; and
  • Failing to stop

What must the prosecution prove?

Since Dangerous Driving  offence is a criminal offence, the burden of proof lies on the Prosecution.

The prosecution must prove each of the elements in the charge beyond reasonable doubt.

That is a high standard of proof that the prosecution must achieve before someone can be convicted of Dangerous Driving .

To establish each of the Dangerous Driving offences, the prosecution must prove each of the following matters beyond reasonable doubt;

For dangerous driving occasioning grievous bodily harm;

  • You were driving the vehicle;
  • Under the influence of intoxicating liquor or of a drug; or
  • At a speed dangerous to another person(s);
  • In a manner dangerous to another person(s) and
  • Grievous bodily harm occurred

Grievous bodily harm is bodily injury of a ‘really serious kind’. This includes any permanent or serious disfiguring of the person, broken bones, damage to in internal organs or the destruction of the foetus of a pregnant woman.

For dangerous driving occasioning death

To establish dangerous driving occasioning death, the prosecution must prove the above plus that; –

A person died as a result.

If you are charged with the offence of Dangerous Driving what are your options?

National Criminal Lawyers are one of the top traffic lawyers in Sydney and  have been successful in defending a number of Dangerous Driving  charges where the prosecution could not establish each of the elements of Dangerous Driving . We have also achieved a number of non-convictions for Dangerous Driving charges.

NCL offer the following options for those who have been charged with Dangerous Driving ;

  1. We will negotiate with prosecutors (police or DPP) (a term referred to as “plea negotiations”) to request that the charge is withdrawn, downgraded or fact sheets amended;
  2. NCL will Plead Not Guilty and go to hearing/trial and persuade the Court that prosecution has not proven its case beyond reasonable doubt;
  3. Plead guilty to the elements of the charge and then dispute the facts (at a special “disputed facts” hearing) with the view of having you sentenced less harshly; and/or
  4. Plead guilty with full acceptance of the facts as set out by the police and make strong submissions on your behalf requesting that the Court not record a criminal conviction.

Pleading Guilty

If you agree that you have committed the offence and the police are able to prove all the elements of the offence, it is best to plead guilty at an early opportunity to receive the maximum discount. Currently the maximum discount available for an early plea of guilty is 25% of the sentence.

Furthermore, the early guilty plea shows the Court that you have remorse and contrition for your actions.

Our Lawyers at National Criminal Lawyers work closely with you to ensure that we obtain all necessary paper work at increasing the chances of obtaining a non-conviction or section 10.

Maximum Penalties

For ordinary dangerous driving causing GBH offenders can be punished with a prison sentence of up to 2 years (if heard in the Local Court) whereas the maximum penalty for offenders is imprisonment for 7 years if heard in the District Court.

If there are aggravating circumstances the maximum period of imprisonment increases to 11 years.

In terms of licence disqualifications, the automatic disqualification (For a First Offence) is 3 years. However, the court has the power to reduce this period to 12 months if the circumstances permit.

The automatic disqualification (for Second offence) is 5 years. However, the court has the power to reduce this period to 2 years if the circumstances permit.

Please note these penalties are reserved for the worst kind of offending and are unlikely to be what you would receive.

Pleading Not Guilty

If you decide to plead not guilty you will need to prepare to go to a Defended Hearing.

A defended hearing is where all the witnesses of that case are called to give evidence. The witnesses are both examined by the prosecution and tested by your defence lawyers.

National Criminal Lawyers have defended thousands of people charged with Dangerous Driving and are experts at these hearings.


Some of the possible defences available for those charged with Dangerous Driving are set out  in Section 52A(iii) Crimes Act 1900(NSW) which states:

It is a defence to any charge under this section if grievous bodily harm occasioned by the impact was not in any way attributable:

  • to the fact that the person charged was under the influence of intoxicating liquor or of a drug or a combination of drugs;
  • to the speed at which the vehicle was driven, or
  • To the manner in which the vehicle was driven


The Courts are not bound by statistics however there must be reasonable consistency in sentences. A Magistrate or Judge should have regard to what has been done in other cases. In Green [2011] HCA 45, the plurity judgement of French CJ, Kiefel and Creennan JJ stated:

“Equal Justice” embodies the norm expressed in the terms “equality before the law”. It is an aspect of the rule of law.

For Dangerous Driving 30% of offenders received Full time imprisonment whereas 39% received a suspended sentence.

Possible Penalty's

In NSW, a court can impose any of the following penalties for a Dangerous Driving  charge.

  • Prison sentence;
  • Home Detention;
  • Intensive correction order (previously periodic detention);
  • Suspended sentence;
  • Community service order (CSO);
  • Good behaviour bond;
  • Fine; and/or
  • Section 10.

However, from the 24 September 2018 new penalty’s will be replacing the above. They are as follows:

  • Full time Imprisonment;
  • New ICO (ICO) with a home detention condition available;
  • New Community Correction Order (CCO);
  • Fine and/or
  • New Conditional release Order (CRO)

Case Studies

Our client was charged with dangerous driving causing GBH which was unsupported by the evidence. After negotiation with the prosecution our client pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of negligent driving and was sentenced to a relatively lenient fine.

Why National Criminal Lawyers?

There are three reasons to choose National Criminal Lawyers:

1. We get the results

We are the experts in either beating or having criminal charges withdrawn AND/OR obtaining the least restrictive penalty available. This is because no matter which option you choose within our tailored Options at Law you will be dealing with experienced criminal lawyers who can make sure the evidence is not only obtained properly but also that your case is prepared and presented to the highest best practice standards possible. This is also done without breaking your pocket.

2. We give a Senior Defence Lawyer guarantee

No matter which option at law you choose, National Criminal Lawyers can guarantee that a Senior Defence Lawyer will represent you. This means that with our over 25 years of Combined criminal law experience you will get the best result possible.

3. National Criminal Lawyers are the best defenders of your rights

At National Criminal Lawyers we know that Criminal Law is a matter of Human Rights. For this reason, we take pride and passion in representing our clients. This pride and passion to assist those charged with an alleged or actual breach of the criminal law is to us a matter of righteous necessity and in that sense, you can always rest assured that National Criminal Lawyers are the best defenders of your rights. This true not only when the police have just simply got it wrong OR if they have got it right then we can speak with you and make sure you get you the best result available.

If you have been charged with any Dangerous Driving  offence our Team at National Criminal Lawyers are well versed and specialists in having charges either withdrawn and otherwise achieving favourable outcomes.

Please contact our office on 02 9893 1889 or visit www.nationalcriminallawyers.com.au for more information about your options.

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