Dangerous driving or dangerous operation of a motor vehicle is one of the most serious traffic offences in Queensland. Dangerous driving is a criminal offence not just a traffic offence meaning a conviction can have very serious consequences.
The penalty for dangerous driving can be up to 5 years imprisonment, a fine of up to $4,000 and a lengthy disqualification of your driver’s licence.
If a person is injured or killed as a result of an accident it is possible to be charged with dangerous driving causing injury or death. If any of the following aggravating circumstances exist and a person was injured or killed then the maximum penalty is increased to 14 years in prison:
- at the time the driver was adversely affected by alcohol or drugs; or
- at the time the driver was excessively speeding or taking part in an unlawful race; or
- the driver has previously been convicted for dangerous driving
It is critical to get legal advice if you are charged with dangerous driving as prison is a real possibility for this offence or at the very least a large fine and a long disqualification period. A person should never appear unrepresented on a charge of dangerous driving as the legal issues are simply too complex.
Dangerous driving is also a type 1 hooning offence meaning the vehicle you were driving can be impounded or immobilised for 90 days. For the second offence the vehicle can be impounded and may be forfeited to the state at the end of any legal proceedings against you. For more details visit our hooning webpage.
Section 328A of Queensland’s Criminal Code defines dangerous driving as;
(1) A person who operates, or in any way interferes with the operation of, a vehicle dangerously in any place commits a misdemeanour.
Maximum penalty—200 penalty units or 3 years imprisonment.
(2) If the offender—
(a) at the time of committing the offence is adversely affected by an intoxicating substance; or
(b) at the time of committing the offence is excessively speeding or taking part in an unlawful race or unlawful speed trial; or
(c) has been previously convicted either upon indictment or summarily of an offence against this section;
the person commits a crime.
Maximum penalty—400 penalty units or 5 years imprisonment.
What type of driving can result in a dangerous driving charge?
A charge for dangerous driving often results from split second errors in judgement. We have in the past acted for people who have been charged with dangerous driving for;
- Failing to see a motorcycle before entering an intersection and unfortunately striking and killing the motorcyclist
- Being temporarily distracted causing the car to run off the road into the other lane of traffic causing grievous bodily harm to passengers in another vehicle
- Falling asleep at the wheel resulting in a collision with a power pole and serious injuries to the passenger in the car
- Exiting the road after missing a turn, then turning too sharply in the dirt causing the vehicle to roll
- Driving at excessive speed
- Driving through a roundabout at excessive speed and cutting off other motorists
- Striking and killing a cyclist after traveling too close to the vehicle in front
The state of mind of the driver is not an essential element of the charge. Therefore, it is possible the driver thought they were driving safely yet they were actually be driving dangerously.
The ordinary meaning of dangerous is fraught with or causing danger; involving risk; perilous; hazardous; unsafe’. It describes, when applied to driving, a manner or speed of driving which gives rise to a risk to others, including motorists, cyclists, pedestrians and the driver’s own passengers.
For the driving to be dangerous, there must be some feature which is identified not as a mere want of care, but which subjects the public to some risk over and above that ordinarily associated with the driving of a motor vehicle. Just because the driving was as a result of brief or momentary inattention does not mean it cannot be dangerous. Often people are charged with dangerous driving for striking a car, pedestrian or cyclist they simply didn’t see.
Is there a defence to a charge of dangerous driving?
Defences to a charge of dangerous driving might include:
- The driving was in fact not dangerous, for example the condition of the road or the vehicle caused the accident.
- Necessity, for example the driver had to drive as a result of an emergency
- The accused was wrongly identified as the driver
In some circumstances we have been able to argue that the police should reduce the charge to careless driving so that the disqualification period can be below 6 months or even in the right circumstances none at all.
If you think you have a defence or wish to plead not guilty then contact us for some free initial advice.
It is not a defence to a charge of dangerous driving to show that you did not mean or did not think you were driving dangerously, even a momentary period of inattention that results in an accident can be classed as dangerous driving. The test is whether the person commit some act that subject the public to risk over and above that normally associated with driving.
What does the prosecutor need to prove?
In order to be found guilty of the offence the prosecutor must prove that a person;
- Was driving or operating a motor vehicle;
- Was driving or operating that vehicle in any place (other than a place used to test vehicles that all other vehicles are prevented from entering);
- That the driving was dangerous.
What is the definition of dangerous driving?
The term "operates a motor vehicle dangerously" means "operates a vehicle at a speed or in a way that is dangerous to the public having regard to all the circumstances" including:
- the nature, condition and use of the place; and
- the nature and condition of the vehicle; and
- the number of persons, vehicles or other objects that are, or might reasonably be expected to be, in the place; and
- the concentration of alcohol in the driver’s blood; and
- the presence of any other substance in the driver’s body
What court will hear the charge?
Although all dangerous driving charges start in the magistrates court some can only be finalised in the district court. If the charge is dangerous driving causing grievous bodily harm (GBH) or dangerous driving causing death then the district court will ultimately determine the matter, all other dangerous driving charges are finalised in the magistrates court
Will I receive a jail sentence?
There exists the real possibility that a person can be sent to jail even if this is their first dangerous driving charge. It all depends on the circumstances of the offences, what damage was done and whether people were hurt. If the charge is dangerous driving causing grievous bodily harm (GBH) or death then a prison sentence will almost always be imposed.
We have had great success in the past convincing courts that the driver should not be sent to prison but instead should serve community service or that the prison sentence should be immediately suspended.
If you were adversely affected by an intoxicating substance i.e. alcohol or drugs at the time of the offence this will increase the penalty the court gives.
Will I get a criminal conviction?
Possibly, dangerous driving is a criminal offence meaning the court can choose whether to record a conviction or not. If a conviction is recorded this may have an effect on overseas travel or employment prospects in the future.
It is possible to ask the court not to record a conviction especially if you are first time offender. Contact us for more information about the non-recording of a conviction for a dangerous driving charge.
Will I lose my licence?
You will lose your driver’s licence for at least 6 months and depending on the circumstance of the charge and your traffic history perhaps much longer. If alcohol is involved the period of disqualification will be substantial.
What can I do to reduce my penalty and disqualification period?
The best thing is obviously to engage an experienced traffic lawyer to act for you. A lawyer knows what the court needs to hear to get the lowest penalty possible.
Other things you can look to do is obtaining character references, where appropriate medical reports and completing the QTOP course.
Can I get a work licence or hardship licence?
No, It is not possible to obtain a work licence or hardship licence to allow you to drive during the disqualification and so it is critical to try and minimise the licence disqualification as much as possible.
Should I get a lawyer to represent me for the dangerous driving charge?
In a word, yes this is not an offence where you should simply turn up to the court without a lawyer. The consequences and penalties the court may impose are too serious not to seek to minimise the penalty by having a lawyer. This is a charge that often results in people being sent to prison. As this is a criminal offence the recording of a conviction may limit your ability to travel overseas or obtain employment.
If you have a bad traffic history, have previously been convicted of dangerous driving or someone was hurt then an experienced traffic lawyer is critical. We get calls every week from people who represented themselves in court and received extremely harsh penalties and need to try and appeal the result. Worse we also get calls from family members devastated that a family member did not have a lawyer or had an inexperienced one and was sent to jail for dangerous driving. In most cases an appeal is very difficult or if it is will cost a huge amount for the legal fees. It is better to have an experienced lawyer from the start to minimise the penalty.
Engaging a lawyer also allows them to potentially try and negotiate with the prosecutor to try and reduce the charge. For more information on negotiating with the prosecutor and why it can be critical read our article here.
Engaging Clarity Law to act for you
Engaging us gives you the best chance at obtaining the lowest disqualification period and penalty. We are the leading traffic law firm in South East Queensland, everyday our lawyers are in court getting the best outcome for clients. Just some of the benefits of us acting for you include;
- we know the judges and what they want to hear to give you the best outcome
- we have good relationships with the prosecutors meaning we can often have them not seek a prison sentence for the dangerous driving charge
- we are there to help you through the process and make everything as stress free as possible, in most cases you will not have to say anything in court
- engaging us shows the court you are taking your charges seriously
- your matter will be heard early, often first, you do not have to wait for 20-30 other matters to be heard before you
- you will be fully informed of what is to happen in court and what this means for you after court
- unlike the police or the judge, we are there to look after you, your privacy and your interests
- If you are at risk of a jail sentence we can try and convince the court to give you immediate parole instead or to fully suspend the jail sentence
What courts do you appear in?
We appear in every court in South East Queensland. Just some of the courts we appear in are;
- Beenleigh Magistrates Court
- Brisbane Magistrates Court
- Caloundra Magistrates Court
- Caboolture Magistrates Court
- Gympie Magistrates Court
- Holland park Magistrates Court
- Ipswich Magistrates Court
- Maroochydore Magistrates Cour
- Noosa Magistrates Court
- Pine Rivers Magistrates Court
- Southport Magistrates Court
- Toowoomba Magistrates Court
- Wynnum Magistrates Court
For a full list of Courts we appear in click here.
Will I need to come into the office to see you?
We have offices in Brisbane and on the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coasts also at Loganholme, Ipswich and Brendale but in most cases we can handle everything by email and the phone without you ever having to come into our office. We are also open outside normal business hours for your convenience.
What do you charge?
We charge a flat upfront fee for our services which means no hidden charges or unexpected bills. We don't charge any travelling fees either; if you are in Maroochydore or Southport you will pay the same price as if you are Brisbane.
We are also upfront with our fees, if you look at other law firms few, if any, clearly list how much they are going to charge you. Clarity Law on the other hand are happy to list our prices as we are sure no other South East Queensland law firm can match our prices and experience. Our prices include;
- full preparation for court including checking for defences and devising strategy to minimise penalty
- negotiations with the prosecution unit including obtaining traffic history and charge documents
- drafting submissions for the court
- arranging for you to attend a driving course (if appropriate)
- all telephone calls, faxes emails and meetings with you
- detailed information to you on the likely penalty and information on what will happen at court and afterwards
- appearing in the court with you to conduct your guilty plea (if you are pleading guilty)
To see what we will for a guilty plea on a dangerous driving charge click here. If you are thinking of pleading not guilty or your matter must be heard in the district court then contact us and we can give you a fixed price quote.
If I contacted you what would occur?
If you contact us then Steven Brough the firms founder or our office manager Belinda Smyth will take the call or receive the email. They have 40 years legal experience between them, we can provide immediate legal assistance and answer any questions you have. We will discuss your case, provide guidance and send a quote by email with additional relevant information about your charge, all at no cost.
If you want to engage us then it’s easy, there is a form you can complete and email back or complete online. If you don’t want to engage us or want to engage another firm that’s fine, you won’t be hassled and at worst you will just have more information about your charge. Once engaged one of our lawyers will go through your matter and contact you to discuss what the best way forward is to achieve the best results. Everyone of our lawyers are very experienced with thousands of courts appearances between them.
How do I get more help or engage you to act for me?
We have been operating since 2010 and undertaken hundreds of dangerous driving charges throughout South East Queensland.
If you want to engage us or just need further information or advice then you can either;
- Use our contact form and we will contact you by email or phone at a time that suits you
- Call us on 1300 952 255 seven days a week, 7am to 7pm
- Visit our main website page
We cover all courts in South East Queensland from the Gold Coast to Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast and out to Toowoomba. We have 6 offices in South East Queensland to assist people. We are a no pressure law firm, we are happy to provide information to assist you, if you want to engage us then great, if not then you at least have more information about dangerous driving. You won’t be chased or hounded to engage us. Remember its critical you get advice before going to court, a dangerous driving charge will have an impact on you, your family and your employment or business.
Need more information?
We have a range of articles on dangerous driving on our blog. Some of the most recent have included:
This article general information only and not legal advice and is written subject to our disclaimer that can be read by clicking here