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Serious Traffic Offences in South Australia

The laws that describe serious traffic offences in South Australia are set out in the Road Traffic Act 1961 and in the Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935. These matters must be dealt with by the Court and the penalties include imprisonment.

The laws that describe serious traffic offences in South Australia are set out in the Road Traffic Act 1961 and in the Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935.

Failing to stop, give assistance & present to police where person injured or killed

A driver who has an accident where a person is injured or killed must stop and give all possible assistance. They must personally report the accident to the police within 90 minutes of it happening and take part in any alcohol or drug testing requested. Failing to do so is an offence which attracts a jail sentence of 5 years and a minimum disqualification from driving of 12 months. If it is a first offence, it may be reduced to a minimum of 1 month if the Court is satisfied that it is trifling.

It is a defence to a charge of failing to stop if the driver was unaware, and it is reasonable to accept they were unaware, that there had been an accident. It is also a defence if the driver believed that stopping to assist would put them or another person in danger, and they notified police, ambulance or emergency services as soon as possible of the accident.  It is a defence to failing to report within the time if the driver had a reasonable excuse for not doing so and attended the police station as soon as possible after the accident.

Aggravated Careless Driving

Careless driving is driving without showing the proper care or attention or without considering others. It is “aggravated” when the driver is disqualified, or has a blood alcohol level over 0.08, or is driving more than 45km/h over the speed limit or to avoid the police, or if the driving causes injury or death. The maximum penalty for the offence is a jail sentence of 12 months and a minimum disqualification of 6 months. It is a defence to a charge if the defendant proves that at the time of the offence they were carrying out their duties as an emergency worker (ie., ambulance officer, fireman, police officer) as directed, and were acting reasonably in the circumstances as they understood them.

Reckless or Dangerous Driving

This offence is committed by driving a vehicle recklessly or at a speed or in a manner that is dangerous to another person. To determine whether the driving was dangerous, a Court will consider the road conditions, whether there was other traffic on the road, and any other relevant circumstances. The maximum penalty is a jail sentence of 2 years and a minimum disqualification of 1 year for a first offence or 3 years for a subsequent offence.

Driving under the influence

It is an offence to drive, or attempt to, while there is a level of alcohol or drugs in the blood that prevents the driver having proper control of their vehicle. There is a fine of $1,100.00 to $1,600.00 or a maximum jail sentence of 3 months. The driver will be disqualified for a minimum of 12 months which may be reduced to 1 month if the Court accepts that the offence is trifling.

For a subsequent offence, there is a fine of $1,900.00 to $2,900.00 or a maximum jail sentence of 6 months and disqualification for a minimum of 3 years. The Court can order that when the driver is allowed a licence again it is a provisional or probationary licence. In deciding whether an offence is a subsequent offence, any previous drink driving or drug driving conviction can be counted. 

Cause death or harm by use of vehicle

Any person who drives in a negligent or reckless way or at an excessive speed and kills or causes serious mental or physical harm to a person, or causes over $10,000.00 of damage to property, is guilty of an indictable offence. If the driving causes only damage to property, then the maximum penalty is a jail sentence of 5 years and disqualification for a minimum of 1 year. For an aggravated or subsequent offence the maximum penalty is a jail sentence of 7 years and disqualification for a minimum of 3 years.

If the driving caused serious harm to a person then the maximum penalty is a jail sentence of 15 years and disqualification for a minimum of 10 years. For an aggravated or subsequent offence the maximum penalty is imprisonment for life and disqualification from driving for a minimum of 10 years. If the driving causes death then the maximum penalty is a jail sentence of 15 years and disqualification for a minimum of 10 years.

Leaving accident scene after causing harm or death by careless use of vehicle

The obligations of a driver of a vehicle after an accident causing death or injury are the obligations to stop, to give all possible assistance and to report the incident to the police within 90 minutes. Any person who drives a vehicle without due care or attention which causes the death of a person and does not comply with these obligations is guilty of an offence. The maximum penalty is a jail sentence of 15 years and a minimum disqualification of 10 years. For a subsequent offence the maximum penalty is imprisonment for life and a minimum disqualification from driving for a minimum of 10 years.

If that driving causes serious physical harm and the driver does not comply with the obligations there is a maximum penalty of 15 years in jail and a minimum disqualification of 10 years. For a subsequent offence the maximum penalty is a life jail sentence and a minimum disqualification of 10 years.

If a person is harmed, but not seriously, the maximum penalty is a jail sentence of 5 years and a minimum disqualification for 1 year. For a subsequent offence the maximum penalty is a jail sentence of 7 years and a minimum disqualification of 3 years.

Escaping a police pursuit

A driver who drives in a dangerous way, at speed or without using reasonable caution and puts others at risk of injury or death, while trying to escape or to cause a police pursuit, is guilty of an offence. The maximum penalty is a jail sentence of 3 years and disqualification for a minimum of 2 years. For an aggravated offence the maximum penalty is a jail sentence of 5 years and disqualification for a minimum of 2 years. It is an aggravated offence if the vehicle was being driven without the owner’s consent or if the driver was disqualified or under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

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