Under Queensland law, dangerous driving is one of the more serious offences, and although it relates to traffic, it is not considered a traffic offence but instead a criminal offence.
The penalties are typically much harsher than a traffic charge and the conviction won’t be recorded against your traffic history but rather your criminal history. Here is everything you need to know about dangerous driving here in Queensland.
Who can be found guilty of this offence?
To be charged with this offence and then be found guilty, the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that you operated a vehicle, or interfered with the operation of a vehicle, that was ‘dangerous’ to other road users in all the circumstances or done so at any place.
You can be found guilty of this offence even if you weren’t driving on a public road. Additionally, you can be found guilty of this charge even if you weren’t driving at the time of the offence. This can involve interfering with the operation of a vehicle.
What are some examples of dangerous driving in Queensland?
- Hoon-type behaviour such as donuts, drifting, burnouts, fishtails, revving car motors and skids
- Speeding, rolling roadblocks, time trials, street racing, drag racing
- Driving carelessly or putting other road users in danger on purpose
- Swerving amongst traffic
- Blatantly ignoring traffic laws and signs
When you’ve been charged with this offence, there is no need to prove that you did not do it deliberately. This is because the conduct of the driver is objective. Whether you believed your driving was dangerous or not is irrelevant. It will be up to the Magistrate to determine whether they deem your actions as dangerous.
Additional factors that can make your penalty more serious
While dangerous driving is considered serious, the penalties can be much more severe if the following are involved:
- You were under the influence of an intoxicating substance such as alcohol or narcotics
- You have been previously convicted of dangerous driving
- You were speeding excessively
- You were participating in an illegal race or speed trial
If it is established that you were responsible for the death or serious physical injury of another person, the penalty will be even more serious. This carries a maximum jail sentence of 10 years. The maximum jail term increases to 14 years if you cause death or grievous bodily harm while drinking, driving too fast, participating in a race, etc.
If you leave the scene of an accident and you know that someone has been injured or has possibly died, you could face a maximum sentence of 14 years in jail. The only reason you have valid grounds for leaving is if you are going to find medical assistance for the injured person and cannot do so from where you are.
Other possible penalties for dangerous driving
- Probation period
- Community service
- Licence disqualification
Upon conviction for dangerous driving, a licence suspension is automatic. First-time offenders must be disqualified for at least three months, while repeat offenders must serve at least 12 months. The lowest mandatory disqualification period for an aggravated offence is 12 months. The court has the discretion to impose a longer disqualification in each case if it deems it necessary.
Are there any defences to dangerous driving?
The easiest way to refute this accusation is to argue that your driving was not as dangerous as the prosecution claims. As previously indicated, the Magistrate or jury will decide this fully, and they must do it impartially.
Here are some possible defences to dangerous driving:
If any of the below apply to your situation, you could have a defence to your dangerous driving charge and should seek legal advice straight away.
You were not driving at the time of the incident
If you were not driving at the time of the alleged offence and you can prove this to the prosecution, you may have a defence.
If you can demonstrate that you were driving dangerously due to being under duress, you have a defence to this accusation. The court will want evidence to support this defence.
You were performing your responsibilities as an emergency personnel
The Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935 Section 19A(10) offers emergency workers an exclusive defence. If you can prove that you were completing your duties in accordance with your role, you will have a defence to this charge. Additionally, you’ll need to demonstrate that you acted sensibly given the circumstances.
A defence for dangerous driving would be if you had to drive in the manner you did due to human or natural threats to avoid even worse repercussions. Thus, there is some overlap with the duress defence. It must be demonstrated that you had reasonable grounds to believe you were in immediate danger. You may have acted to defend yourself or another person.
In essence, the harm you would have sustained had you not behaved in that way must be assessed by the Court. The Court must also be persuaded that the act was appropriate given the danger it posed.
You weren’t driving dangerously when the incident occurred
Accidents do occasionally occur, despite our greatest attempts to prevent them. You may be able to defend yourself against this charge by demonstrating that you were driving with a degree of caution when the incident occurred.
The law acknowledges that occasionally people won’t be able to make sound judgements or control their behaviour due to mental impairment. You might have a defence to dangerous driving if this was the case for you at the time of the offence.
Seek legal advice
As mentioned throughout this post, dangerous driving is considered a serious crime that often carries harsh penalties, sometimes even life-changing. If you are found guilty of a dangerous driving charge, a criminal conviction will be recorded against you and this can make it hard to maintain or gain employment and it can jeopardise your opportunity to travel to some countries. Not to mention, that most dangerous driving charges lead to a licence disqualification at the minimum. Fortunately, a work licence qld is something that you can explore with us if you fit the criteria, plus representing yourself with a charge such as this is never recommended. Contact the expert team here at Drink Driver Lawyer for some professional advice on where to go next.