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Driving is an important part of adult life, and something we can occasionally take for granted. It is such a normal part of our lives that we often feel very safe behind the wheel. However, driving offences are the most common criminal offence in Australia, making up 34% of all offences during 2019 and 2020, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. The road is a dangerous place, and accidents can happen.

One of the most serious traffic offences is negligent, furious or reckless driving, which has three subcategories depending on the scenario: negligent driving, negligent driving occasioning grievous bodily harm, and negligent driving occasioning death. All three carry different penalties with varying degrees of severity.

What is Negligent Driving?

Negligent driving is the offence of driving in a manner which does not adhere to reasonable safety standards, care or attention expected of a responsible driver, and which has the potential to put the driver, or the general public, at risk of serious injury or death.

Charges of negligent driving offences will normally be levelled against someone if there is some kind of collision for which they are responsible, and there is some level of proof that they were operating their vehicle in an irresponsible manner. Examples of negligent driving include:

  • Failing to keep a lookout
  • Not driving defensively resulting in a collision
  • Endangering others by not paying due care or attention to road rules or conditions (rain, snow, school times, etc)
  • Not indicating or staying in your lane
  • Generally failing to abide by road rules.

What is Negligent Driving Occasioning Grievous Bodily Harm or Death?

Negligent driving occasioning GBH (grievous bodily harm) or death are serious indictable offences which can incur very serious penalties.

When negligent driving leads to the harm or death of others, it is called negligent driving occasioning grievous bodily harm or negligent harm occasioning death. Grievous bodily harm (GBH) refers to any permanent or serious injury or disfigurement, which includes burns, scarring, broken bones or internal organ damage, as well as the damage or destruction of a foetus (if a pregnant woman loses her baby, or it is harmed as a result of the car accident).

What is the charge of negligent driving?

Negligent driving can be hard to define. Generally, negligent driving is failing to drive at a standard that an ordinary prudent driver would. You can be charged with this offence if you:

  • Drove a motor vehicle on a road or road related area; and
  • Drove the vehicle negligently, causing a collision, a person to suffer grievous bodily harm/death

It can be quite difficult for the prosecution to prove who was at fault in the accident, or whether you were driving negligently, as the evidence is usually circumstantial. Our lawyers often use the services of crash investigation experts to analyse the scene of the accident and perhaps assist our client in their defence against these charges.

Negligent Driving Legislation

The Road Transport Act 2013 No 18 states:

  • A person must not drive a motor vehicle on a road negligently
  • A person must not drive a motor vehicle on a road furiously, recklessly or at a speed in a manner dangerous to the public

What are the Penalties for Negligent Driving?

Negligent driving is not a simple charge, because there are many factors that go into it. The seriousness of the charge will depend on the circumstances, the evidence and whether anyone was injured or killed.

As such, there are three distinct penalties for negligent driving which differ based upon the severity of damage to victims and whether it is a first offence or a repeated pattern of behaviour.

Negligent Driving

In NSW, the maximum penalty for negligent driving not occasioning death or grievous bodily harm is 10 penalty units, which equates to $1100.

In the case of a first-timer being charged with driving furiously, recklessly or in a manner dangerous to the public, the maximum penalty is $2200 or imprisonment for 9 months, or both.

Negligent Driving Occasioning Grievous Bodily Harm

When negligent driving results in the injury of a third-party, the charges are upgraded to negligent driving occasioning grievous bodily harm.

First offence:

The charge of negligent driving causing grievous bodily harm entails a maximum fine of $2200.00 or imprisonment for 9 months or both (for a first offence). 

The mandatory period of disqualification is 12 months, unless the court decides to deal with the matter pursuant to section 10 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act, in which case you will not be disqualified from driving. To find out more about a section 10, click here.

Second offence:

For a second or subsequent offence, the maximum penalty is a fine of $3300.00 or imprisonment for 12 months, or both.

The mandatory period of disqualification is 12 months, unless the court decides to deal with the matter pursuant to section 10 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act, in which case you will not be disqualified from driving.

Depending on your traffic record, the likely penalties can range from a section 10 to a period of full time imprisonment.

Negligent Driving Occasioning Death

This is a scenario that no-one ever wishes to find themselves in, but it is still important to be aware of the legal consequences of negligent driving occasioning death.

First offence:

The maximum penalty for the offence of negligent driving causing death is a fine of $3300.00 or imprisonment for 18 months or both (for a first offence).

The minimum period of disqualification is 12 months, unless the court decides to deal with the matter pursuant to section 10 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act, in which case you will not be disqualified from driving.

Second offence

For a second or subsequent offence the maximum penalty is a fine of $5500.00, imprisonment for 2 years, or both.

The minimum period of disqualification is 2 years, unless the court decides to deal with the matter pursuant to section 10 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act, in which case you will not be disqualified from driving.

Generally, penalties that a court can impose for any criminal offence in NSW are:

Negligent Driving Case Studies

LY Lawyers has over 50 years of combined experience, with top criminal lawyers who specialise in the full spectrum of criminal driving, including negligent driving cases.

It is important to know that not all accidents are caused by negligent driving. Examples where a collision or accident may not be negligent driving include:

  • Circumstances where an accident was unavoidable.
  • If the accident was caused by a mechanical issue or equipment failure that you did not know about.
  • A situation where you became unconscious resulting from a condition you had no control of and were not previously aware of.

Our track record of success in criminal cases throughout Australia is proven. Take a look at our case studies below for just a few examples of the success we have achieved for our clients.

It was a tragic accident, involving our client’s car and a motorised pushbike. Our client pleaded not guilty, saying that the accident was not her fault, and that the bike had appeared coming from the footpath, onto the road and not giving way. The police alleged that the pushbike came from the road, travelling close to the gutter before the accident.

Our committed traffic lawyer attended the scene of the accident, took photos, and did his own measurements and analysis of the crash scene. He took additional photos of the roadway that the police had not taken, which included close-ups of the markings on the road which suggested the point/place of impact.

The hearing proceeded at Fairfield Local Court, before Magistrate Coombes. Using evidence collected by our solicitor, we were able to disprove the police alleged version. The magistrate could simply not find beyond reasonable doubt, based on the markings on the road, where the motorised pushbike came from, and the charge was dismissed.

Our client was charged with negligent driving occasioning grievous bodily harm. It was alleged that our client had driven through an intersection without giving way to a motorcycle. As a result, the motorcycle collided with our clients’ vehicle. The victim suffered a number of injuries including abrasions and soft tissue injuries.

One of our solicitors was of the view that the injuries suffered by the victim did not amount to grievous bodily harm. Our solicitor made representation to the police that our client will plead guilty to an amended charge of negligent driving which attracts lesser penalties.

On the day of the Hearing at Waverley Local Court, after extensive negotiations between the parties, the prosecutor agreed to amend the charge to only negligent driving.

Our client pleaded guilty to negligent driving and was placed on a Section 10 good behaviour bond. This meant that a criminal conviction was not recorded providing our client complies with the bond for 12 months; an excellent result for our client who remains without a criminal record.

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Available at our Sydney CBD, Parramatta, Liverpool, Wollongong, Newcastle or Gosford office.

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Achieving results one case at a time

Highly recommend! Joseph handled my case and got the result he said i would, communication was great and his advice on what to do to help my case was great, dont hesitate to give them a call if you ever need legal help.

Todd Hurring

Ly Lawyers
5.0
2017-06-25T22:46:32+00:00

Todd Hurring

Highly recommend! Joseph handled my case and got the result he said i would, communication was great and his advice on what to do to help my case was great, dont hesitate to give them a call if you ever need legal help.

Achieving results one case at a time

Want to say a big thanks to Adam and the team, was looking at jail without a doubt, already had 2 other common assaults, a GBH, and a fair few other charges on my record and facing another GBH. Never done jail before and thought this was my time for sure. Great service from them, Adam always answered my calls and step me through everything the whole way. Managed to stay out of jail with a ICO order, big win, thanks again, highly recommend

Breno T.

Ly Lawyers
5.0
2017-06-25T22:53:27+00:00

Breno T.

Want to say a big thanks to Adam and the team, was looking at jail without a doubt, already had 2 other common assaults, a GBH, and a fair few other charges on my record and facing another GBH. Never done jail before and thought this was my time for sure. Great service from them, Adam always answered my calls and step me through everything the whole way. Managed to stay out of jail with a ICO order, big win, thanks again, highly recommend

Achieving results one case at a time

I just wanted to say a big thank you to LY Lawyers. My husband just got his sentence at Parramatta District Court last week, expecting to be in jail a lot longer. He was charged with supplying commercial drugs. LY Lawyers represented him with great passion and commitment, all of their staff chipping in to get a short sentence. Only a year to go before he gets out!

Kim Smith

Ly Lawyers
5.0
2017-06-25T22:53:58+00:00

Kim Smith

I just wanted to say a big thank you to LY Lawyers. My husband just got his sentence at Parramatta District Court last week, expecting to be in jail a lot longer. He was charged with supplying commercial drugs. LY Lawyers represented him with great passion and commitment, all of their staff chipping in to get a short sentence. Only a year to go before he gets out!

Achieving results one case at a time

It was a pleasure to work with LY Lawyers. They got me off from my charge. Could not thank them enough!

William Song

Ly Lawyers
5.0
2017-06-25T22:54:34+00:00

William Song

It was a pleasure to work with LY Lawyers. They got me off from my charge. Could not thank them enough!

Achieving results one case at a time

Joseph was amazing and did a fine job representing me in my case. He got the job done and got me the result I wanted.

Habib Rahman

Ly Lawyers
5.0
2017-06-25T22:55:09+00:00

Habib Rahman

Joseph was amazing and did a fine job representing me in my case. He got the job done and got me the result I wanted.

Achieving results one case at a time

Joseph you did an amazing job representing me at Sydney District court . My prior lawyer didn't do anything for me in the local court, but u guys were great in the district court. Thanks for being patient with me too.

Josh Tyler

Ly Lawyers
5.0
2017-06-25T22:56:43+00:00

Josh Tyler

Joseph you did an amazing job representing me at Sydney District court . My prior lawyer didn't do anything for me in the local court, but u guys were great in the district court. Thanks for being patient with me too.

Achieving results one case at a time

I just wanted to say thank you for helping me with my case and THANK YOU for the section 10!

Craig H

Ly Lawyers
5.0
2017-06-25T22:57:53+00:00

Craig H

I just wanted to say thank you for helping me with my case and THANK YOU for the section 10!

Achieving results one case at a time

The team at LY Lawyers were great to deal with, after getting charged with a minor offence. The costs were upfront and affordable. Communication was great and I felt like they really cared about me. If I was ever in trouble again they would be my first point of call for help.

Sarah Davies

Ly Lawyers
5.0
2017-02-01T00:09:03+00:00

Sarah Davies

The team at LY Lawyers were great to deal with, after getting charged with a minor offence. The costs were upfront and affordable. Communication was great and I felt like they really cared about me. If I was ever in trouble again they would be my first point of call for help.

Achieving results one case at a time

What a result from a great team!

Adam handled my case and put everything he had into it. He's a great lawyer at affordable fees. Would highly recommend.

John L.

Ly Lawyers
5.0
2017-02-01T01:38:38+00:00

John L.

What a result from a great team! Adam handled my case and put everything he had into it. He's a great lawyer at affordable fees. Would highly recommend.
5.0
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