Negligent Driving (Qld)
Updated on Dec 13, 2022 • 5 min read • 263 views • Copy Link
Negligent Driving (Qld)
In Queensland, it is an offence for someone to negligently drive a motor vehicle. Under section 83 of the Transport Operations (Road Use Management) Act 1995, someone is guilty of the offence of “careless driving” if they drive a motor vehicle without attention and due care, or without reasonable consideration for other road users. Other jurisdictions use the term “negligent driving” or “reckless driving” in the same circumstances. This page explains the implications of negligence when driving in Queensland.
Because of the potentially fatal consequences of negligently operating a motor vehicle, drivers have a high duty of care to other drivers, passengers and pedestrians. Careless driving occurs when a driver demonstrates a negligent disregard for this legal obligation. Unlike other jurisdictions, where the offence pertains only to public roads, a driver in Queensland can be charged with careless driving even when they are on private property.
Whether a driver is found to have been negligent depends on the conditions of the incident. Relevant considerations include the weather at the time and the level of traffic on the road. In order to establish a Careless Driving offence, the police must prove (beyond a reasonable doubt) that the driver failed to drive carefully and did not show consideration for other road users. In short, careless driving incorporates both deliberate and unintentional actions that fall below the standard expected of road users.
A driver does not have to be involved in a traffic accident or cause damage to be found guilty of careless driving. For instance, a driver can be charged with this offence if they accelerate through traffic lights in an overly aggressive fashion. In most cases, however, a driver is charged with careless driving after an accident occurs. A driver might have a moment of inattention because of distraction, mount a kerb and collide with a cyclist. Or a driver might intentionally act without due care by performing an unlawful U-turn, and subsequently collide with another driver.
The Magistrates Court hears charges of careless driving in Queensland. The offence is punishable by a fine of up to 40 penalty units and six months imprisonment. Additionally, Queensland Transport will issue demerit points against the driver’s licence upon a conviction for careless driving. In fact, Queensland drivers are often disqualified from holding a licence for a period of time if they are convicted of careless driving, regardless of whether or not the court imposes a sentence.
A negligent driver might also be arrested on a Hooning charge, which can result in the vehicle being impounded and immobilised, or confiscated at the end of any legal proceeding.
Dangerous driving in Queensland
A driver that causes injury or death to another road user might be charged with dangerous driving. Dangerous driving is a criminal charge under the Criminal Code, and a driver may be liable for a term of imprisonment. The maximum penalty for dangerous driving is 200 penalty units and/or three years imprisonment. However, this maximum penalty increases to 400 penalty units and/or five years imprisonment when the driver is intoxicated, speeding or drag racing, or has been previously convicted of a dangerous driving offence.
Dangerous driving is a charge reserved for cases where the driver’s actions were more than careless or negligent. The court assesses whether the driving was dangerous with regard to the nature and condition of the road and the vehicle, and the amount of traffic that might reasonably be expected to be in the area at that time.
Negligent driving causing GBH or death
In 2018, the Queensland Parliament passed an amendment to the Transport Operations Act in response to the State Coroner’s recommendations in the Inquest into the Death of Audrey Ann Dow. Ms Dow was 81 when she was killed in a collision with another car that drifted into her lane. The negligent driver had previously been disqualified from driving and should not have been driving at the time of the accident. The driver was charged with careless driving and fined and disqualified from driving, but he was caught driving again weeks later. The Coroner, in this case, stated that traffic law in Queensland needed an intermediate offence that was more serious than careless driving but less serious than dangerous driving.
This amendment was intended to impose harsher punishment for careless driving that resulted in death or grievous bodily harm (GBH). Grievous bodily harm includes serious disfigurement, loss of a body part or organ, or bodily injury that could endanger life if left untreated. This amendment mandated the disqualification period and increased the maximum prison sentence. A person who causes grievous bodily harm or death due to negligent driving is liable for an 80-penalty unit fine and one year’s imprisonment. An unlicensed driver who negligently causes death or grievous bodily harm to another road user is liable for a punishment of 160 penalty units or two years imprisonment.
A driver in these situations must seek legal advice at the earliest possible stage. It is especially important to obtain legal representation if an accident resulted in extensive damage to property, someone was hurt, or the driver is a repeat traffic offender. Please contact Go To Court Lawyers for any legal advice on negligent driving in Queensland, or any other legal matter. Phone 1300 636 846 for experienced legal representation.
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