Reckless, Furious or Dangerous Driving in NSW

The Offence

Driving Recklessly/Furiously or at a Speed/Manner Dangerous s.117 Road Transport Act 2013 (NSW)

Reckless Driving in NSW refers to situations where you drive in a manner that creates an ‘obvious and serious risk of causing physical injury to any other road user or substantial damage to property.’

Reckless driving therefore includes situations where you ‘drive furiously’ or at a dangerous speed. If you have been charged with reckless driving due to excessive speed, the police must also prove that the safety of another a member of the public, such as a passenger or another road user, was put in danger. It is not sufficient just to show that you were speeding excessively.

Dangerous Driving s.52A Crimes Act 1900 (NSW)

Dangerous Driving under the Crimes Act 1900 is a much more serious offence. The Act contains several ‘dangerous driving’ offences, each carrying different penalties to reflect the relative seriousness, including:

  • Dangerous Driving Occasioning Death
  • Aggravated Dangerous Driving Occasioning Death
  • Dangerous Driving Occasioning Grievous Bodily Harm
  • Aggravated Dangerous Driving Occasioning Grievous Bodily Harm 

For one of the offences to be considered aggravated, one (1) of the following four (4) circumstances must have been present, being either:

  • 0.15 grammes or more of alcohol was present in 210 litres of breath or 100 millilitres of blood (high range drink driving) OR
  • you were driving on a road at more than 45 kilometres over the speed limit OR
  • you were driving the vehicle to escape a police pursuit OR
  • your ability to drive was affected by an intoxicating drug (other than alcohol) or a combination of drugs (which may have included alcohol).

The Penalty

Penalties for any the above offences may include one or a combination of the following:

  • Section 10 Dismissal
  • Conditional Release Order
  • Fine
  • Community Correction Order
  • Intensive Correction Order
  • Prison

For an offence under s.117 of the RTA

Maximum penalties are:

(a) if the driving occasions death, 30 penalty units or imprisonment for 18 months or both (in the case of a first offence) or 50 penalty units or imprisonment for 2 years or both (in the case of a second or subsequent offence); or

(b) if the driving occasions grievous bodily harm, 20 penalty units or imprisonment for 9 months or both (in the case of a first offence) or 30 penalty units or imprisonment for 12 months or both (in the case of a second or subsequent offence); or

(c) if the driving does not occasion death or grievous bodily harm, 10 penalty units.

For an offence under s52A of the Crimes Act 1900

Maximum penalties for these offences are significantly more severe, being:

  • Dangerous Driving Occasioning Death – 10 years imprisonment / 14 years (aggravated)
  • Dangerous Driving Occasioning Grievous Bodily Harm – 7 years imprisonment / 11 years (aggravated)

Can I Defend the Charge?

Defences to reckless, furious or dangerous driving may include:

  • maintaining your innocence if you did not commit the act;
  • arguing that you were not driving a motor vehicle;
  • to argue and disprove the elements required to constitute driving recklessly; or
  • to raise necessity or duress as the reason for your conduct

If you have been charged with any of these offences, it is extremely important you speak with an experienced driving defence lawyer as soon as possible to discuss the best options for you. A defence may be available to you where the elements cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt but it is imperative that you approach the matter with caution and allow a lawyer to review all the facts of the case before taking any steps towards a defence.