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What is Negligent Driving?

There are three types of Negligent Driving offences:

1. Negligent Driving;
2. Negligent Driving Occasioning Grievous Bodily Harm (GBH);
3. Negligent Driving Occasioning Death

Section 117(1) of the Road Transport Act 2013 (NSW)

Negligent Driving is an offence which is committed when you are caught driving a vehicle on a public road in a manner which the Court considers negligent.

Negligent driving is defined as driving a motor vehicle in a manner which is considered below the reasonable standard of care to be expected of the ordinary prudent driver in the circumstances.

The question which the Court must consider is ‘whether the driver was exercising that degree of care which the ordinary prudent driver would exercise in all the circumstances.

For the offence to be established, it must be proven beyond reasonable doubt that:

1. You drove a motor vehicle on a public road;
2. In a manner contrary to the reasonable standard of care expected of an ordinary prudent driver.

To determine whether a person drove negligently, the Court must consider all the circumstances, including:

1. The condition of the road at the time of the offence;
2. The amount of traffic at the time of the offence or the amount of traffic which might be expected to be at the time of the offence; and
3. Any obstructions or hazards on the road (for example broken down or crashed vehicles, fallen loads and accident or emergency scenes).

(section 117(3)(a)-(c))

Negligent Driving Occasioning Grievous Bodily Harm occurs when you have driven negligently (as defined above), however someone suffers from GBH as a result of your negligent driving. GBH is defined as any “permanent or serious disfigurement” (section 117(4)).

Negligent Driving Occasioning Death occurs when you have drive negligently (as defined above), however someone dies as a result of your negligent driving.

How serious are Negligent Driving Offences?

In NSW, Negligent Driving offences are taken very seriously by the Court, because of the danger and/or harm it poses to members of the public.

What are the Penalties for Negligent Driving Offences?

An offence of Negligent Driving carries a maximum fine of $1,100.00. Despite the maximum penalties, negligent driving that does not result in GBH or a person’s death, is often dealt with by way of a Traffic Infringement Notice, a fine and demerit points.

An offence of Negligent Driving Occasioning GBH carries a maximum fine of $2,200.00 or imprisonment of 9 months or both for the first offence. If it is not the first time you have committed this offence, then the maximum fine is $3,300.00 or imprisonment for 12 months or both.

An offence of Negligent Driving Occasioning Death carries a maximum fine of $3,300.00 or imprisonment for 18 months or both. If it is not the first time you have committed this offence, then the maximum fine is $5,500.00 or imprisonment for 2 years or both.

Negligent Driving OffencesPenalties First Offence2 + Offences
Negligent DrivingMaximum Fine$1, 100.00  
Negligent Driving Occasioning GBHMaximum Penalty$2,200.00 Fine
or 9 months imprisonment
or both.
$3,300.00 Fine
or imprisonment for 12 months
or both.
Negligent Driving Occasioning DeathMaximum Penalty        $3,300.00 Fine or
18 months imprisonment
or both.
$5,500.00 Fine
or imprisonment for 2
years or both.

Will I lose my licence?

In cases of Negligent Driving, the Court has the discretionary power to disqualify a negligent driver for certain amount of time.

Negligent Driving Occasioning GBH or Death are considered “major offences” under the Road Transport Act. Therefore, they carry an Automatic Disqualification period.

The Automatic Disqualification period for a first-time offence is for 3 years. If it is a second or subsequent offence, then the Automatic Disqualification period is for 5 years. The Court has the discretionary power to reduce the Disqualification period depending on the circumstances.

Other Sentencing Options

Other sentencing options include:

1. Section 10 Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 (NSW):
You are found guilty but the charges are dismissed, no conviction recorded.
2. Section 9 Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 (NSW):
Good Behaviour Bond
3. Section 12 Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 (NSW):
Suspended Sentence
4. Community Service Order
5. Intensive Correction Order (ICO)

Can I plead “not guilty” to Negligent Driving?

There are several possible defences to Negligent Driving offences including:

1. Duress:
This occurs when you are threatened or pressured into driving in a negligent manner.

2. Necessity:
This occurs when you drive in a negligent manner because you are responding to an emergency, danger or threat.

3. Reasonable mistake of fact:
This occurs when you drive in a negligent manner as a result of having made a reasonable and honest mistake. In other words, you did not realise that what you were doing was wrong or illegal.

We are here to help

Our solicitors specialise in Negligent Driving matters and represent clients in Courts throughout the Central Coast and Hunter Regions. We have the experience and expertise to guide you through the court process from beginning to end to get you the best possible outcome.

If a section 10 is not possible, our Traffic Law experts can help reduce suspension periods, minimise any fines you may face and help you avoid or minimise a gaol term.

If you or your loved one has been charged with dangerous driving and you need advice from a criminal lawyer, contact one of our criminal law specialists immediately on 1300 529 444 or fill in our contact form to arrange a free conference with a solicitor today. Contact us now! 24-hour legal advice 7 days a week

More reading -

Do I need a Criminal Lawyer?

Do I have the Right To Silence?

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  • I’d like to thank Kevin and Jane for meeting me on the weekend and saving me a trip to the central coast (without a licence). I’d also like to thank Paul Popescu for doing a fantastic job representing me on a serious driving charge, he gave me clear instructions on what I needed to do and he was spot on, I received the best possible sentence. I would highly recommend Fourtree Lawyers, they travel all over NSW.

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  • We found Fourtree Lawyers on Google after hours. I called on a Sunday and got some good advice. So went in to meet Kevin on the Monday. The outcome was a section 10(1)(b). We were so pleased and relieved. Thank so much to Kevin and Jane!! Would definitely recommend Fourtree Lawyers! Worth every cent! – JM Terrigal

    JM - Terrigal

  • I was recommend to Fourtree Lawyers from a friend whom also experienced a serious driving infringement. My situation was slightly more serious, being charged with drive while suspended, shared with a reasonably extensive driving record, meant my chances of driving home were minimal. Kevin’s realistic and knowledgeable approach not only prepared & educated me upon all possible verdicts, but also supported me with all possible optimistic outcomes. Kevin’s extensive knowledge of the legal system, combined with the understanding of the Judges expectations, and vast life experience resulted with an outstanding result,...

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