What are NSW driving offences? You may be planning to get a driver’s licence or are new to driving and still not fully aware of the laws in place.
Obeying road rules is very important if you do not want to face charges of NSW driving offences. But this requires knowledge of the NSW driving offences. The commonly known offences include speeding and drunk driving, but there are other offences as well.
So NSW driving offences, what are they?
Serious NSW Driving Offences
This is a common driving offence punishable under Section 52A of the Crimes Act 1900 which can lead to a maximum penalty of up to 10 years’ imprisonment.
Dangerous driving causing death is when the person driving gets involved in an accident that causes the death of another person while the driver was either:
- Under the influence of alcohol or drugs;
- Driving at a dangerous speed; or
- Driving in a dangerous manner.
Negligence occurs when a person fails to take proper care while doing something. Negligent driving occurs when a driver did not drive in a manner that a reasonably prudent driver would have driven given all the circumstances. Circumstances taken into consideration include factors such as the weather, and road and traffic conditions.
The difference between negligent driving and dangerous driving is that a person can drive negligently without being under the influence of alcohol or drugs. For instance, speaking or texting on a mobile phone while driving could lead to negligent driving.
Under Section 117(1) of the Road Transport Act 2013, penalties for negligent driving range from a fine of up to 10 penalty units where neither death or grievous bodily harm was caused. Additional penalties apply if negligent driving causes death or grievous bodily harm.
Furious or Reckless Driving
Section 117(2) of The Road Transport Act 2013 provides that it is illegal to drive a vehicle on a road furiously, recklessly, at a dangerous speed i.e. over the speed limit, or in a dangerous manner.
However, the NSW local court considers the following factors for deciding if a person is guilty of furious or reckless driving:
- The nature, use and condition of the road;
- The amount of traffic present; and
- Any hazards on the road.
Penalties for furious or reckless driving depends on whether it is a first time offence. For a first time offence, a fine of up to 20 penalty units and/or 9 months’ imprisonment is imposed. For an additional offence, a fine of up to 30 penalty units and/or 12 months’ imprisonment is imposed.
Predatory driving is when the driver of a vehicle pursues another vehicle in order to cause an impact between the two vehicles. The driver must intend to cause physical harm to the person in the other vehicle.
Predatory driving occurs even if there is only the threat of a collision between the two vehicles but they do not actually collide. Under Section 51A of the Crimes Act 1900, the maximum penalty for this offence is five years’ imprisonment.
This offence can be equated to a police chase. Police pursuits occur when the driver of a vehicle knows or should reasonably suspect that police officers are pursuing his/her vehicle and require the driver to pull over. The offence is committed when the driver does not stop or drives in the following manner:
- At a speed dangerous to others; or
- In a manner dangerous to others.
The act of failing to stop when required by police is punishable in itself. Police pursuits do not require any collision or harm to be caused to anyone.
Under Section 51B of the Crimes Act 1900, the maximum penalty for a police pursuit is 3 years’ imprisonment for a first time offence and imprisonment for up to 5 years for any additional offences.
Menacing driving is a serious driving offence under Section 118 of the Road Transport Act 2013. A driver must not drive a vehicle with the intent to threaten another person or in a way that could appear threatening.
Penalties are dependent on whether the driver had intent to menace or the behaviour had the possibility of menace. For a charge of intent to menace, a maximum of up to 30 penalty units and/or 18 months’ imprisonment can be imposed. For a charge of the possibility of menace, a maximum of up to 20 penalty units and/or 12 months’ imprisonment.
Driving Offences Causing Death or Grievous Bodily Harm
This occurs when a person uses a vehicle to cause the death or grievous bodily harm to another and is prosecuted under any of the following offences under the Crimes Act 1900:
- Grievous bodily harm (reckless or with intent);
- Injuries caused by furious driving; or
- Any other offence under the Crimes Act 1900.
These charges only happen in very serious or deliberate driving incidents. The maximum penalties for these types of offences in NSW range from 2 years to life imprisonment.
Minor NSW Driving Offences
A driver should also be aware of minor offences in driving. With traffic offences, you can get penalties and demerit points. Demerit points for minor traffic offence
For instance, running a yellow light is punishable under Section 57 of the Road Rules 2014 for up to 20 penalty units. While running a red light is commonly known to be a violation, you should be aware that when a driver is approaching or is at a yellow traffic light, they are required to stop before reaching the stop line, or near the traffic lights unless they cannot do so safely.
Another instance is tooting a horn at your friend. Under Section 224 of the Road Rules 2014, a driver must only use a horn or similar warning device to warn other drivers or even animals of his/her presence and not as a way of greeting friends while passing by. A violation of this offence can lead up to 20 penalty units.
Part 7.4 Division 1 of the Road Transport Act 2013 deals with licence disqualifications. For all serious driving offences in NSW, an automatic disqualification period applies. This means that you are disqualified from driving automatically, without a specific order by the court at the time of conviction. Periods of licence disqualification vary for each of the major offences.
Seeking Legal Advice From Criminal and Traffic Lawyers
The NSW driving offences listed in this article are not exclusive. There are more NSW driving offences provided under the law. If you are facing driving offence charges, we encourage you to seek legal advice. To read more about demerit point offences, double demerit points or demerit point threshold, visit out criminal law blog section.
JB Solicitors has a team of experienced criminal and traffic lawyers who can give you the best legal services. We can discuss possible defences that may be raised for your case and other relevant legal matters. We can also answer any query you have regarding NSW driving offences.
Contact us today.