In New South Wales, proving negligence in driving doesn't require an extensive burden of proof. Negligence can be attributed to a driver if their driving behavior deviates from what a reasonably careful driver would do, considering all circumstances. This evaluation includes factors like weather, road conditions, and traffic dynamics. There are three primary categories of negligent driving charges: 1. Negligent driving without causing death or severe bodily harm. 2. Negligent driving resulting in grievous bodily harm. 3. Negligent driving leading to death. Negligent driving causing grievous bodily harm or death is significantly more serious. According to section 117(1)(a) of the Road Transport Act 2013, the maximum penalties for the offence of negligent driving resulting in death are as follows: 1. First offence: A fine of $3,300 and/or imprisonment for 18 months. The initial disqualification period is typically 3 years, but the court can lessen this to a minimum of 12 months. 2. Subsequent offence: A fine of $5,500 and/or imprisonment for 2 years. The initial disqualification period is usually 5 years, but the court can decrease this to a minimum of 2 years. It's important to recognise that these penalties are the highest possible and are reserved for the most serious cases.
If you’re facing a negligent driving charge but firmly believe you’re not responsible, you have the right to challenge the charges by entering a ‘not guilty’ plea in court.
To establish your guilt in a negligent driving case, the prosecution must prove two key aspects beyond reasonable doubt:
1. You were operating a vehicle.
2. Your driving behavior fell short of the level of care and caution that a reasonable and careful driver would exercise in the given circumstances.
In cases of ‘negligent driving occasioning grievous bodily harm,’ the prosecution must also prove that you caused significant harm to another person, resulting in permanent and severe disfigurement. This includes injuries like fractures, internal organ damage, or the termination of a pregnancy.
Alternatively, if you’re charged with ‘negligent driving occasioning death,’ the prosecution must demonstrate that your actions directly led to another person’s death.
If you don’t believe the prosecution can prove these elements beyond a reasonable doubt, then you may consider entering a not guilty plea.
Our highly skilled traffic lawyers will thoroughly examine all available evidence to uncover any weaknesses in the prosecution’s case. If inconsistencies are found, we can present these concerns to the prosecution, with the aim of having the charges dropped before heading to court. This approach can save you both time and money.
However, there may be instances where the prosecution is unwilling to drop the charges. In such situations, our traffic lawyers can assist in crafting a compelling defence to demonstrate your innocence during the court proceedings.
We can assist you in collecting relevant evidence and engaging expert witnesses, such as crash investigators, who can provide testimony supporting your case.
For instance, if you argue that your actions were reasonably cautious given the circumstances, you can contest the charges and provide evidence in court to substantiate your assertion.
Courts assess the ‘degree of care and attention’ by considering various factors related to the accident, including weather conditions, road conditions, and traffic dynamics.
Moreover, a ‘not guilty’ plea is appropriate if you intend to present a defence explaining your actions, such as:
1. Necessity: Driving due to unavoidable circumstances to prevent harm.
2. Duress: Driving under threat or coercion.
3. Automatism: Involuntary actions without conscious control.
4. Self-defence: Driving to protect oneself or others from harm.
5. Reasonable mistake of fact: Reasonably misunderstanding road rules or speed limits
If you find yourself willing to accept the charges against you, it could be beneficial to enter a guilty plea at an early stage.
Opting for an early guilty plea might lead to a more favorable outcome for your case. By doing so, you demonstrate to the magistrate or judge that you acknowledge your responsibility for your actions, potentially influencing them to consider a more lenient penalty.
Nevertheless, before formally admitting guilt, it’s crucial to seek guidance from an experienced traffic lawyer. Their expertise can help assess whether there are grounds to challenge the charges.
Our team of traffic law specialists is well-equipped to assist you in formulating compelling sentencing submissions. These submissions highlight positive factors like your commendable character or low likelihood of reoffending.
Such persuasive presentations can potentially sway the magistrate or judge toward a more lenient approach. This might encompass options like a good behavior bond or even a ‘section 10 dismissal or conditional release order.’ With the latter, you’re found guilty, but no conviction is recorded, and you aren’t disqualified from driving.
Potential penalties that the court can impose include:
1. Section 10 Dismissal
2. Conditional Release Order
4. Community Correction Order
5. Intensive Correction Order
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