What constitutes Negligent Driving?

Article Conor Sheridan 16 April 2021

Focus on "Dangerous" or "Negligent" Driving

During every school holiday period we see numerous media stories and reports about road accidents and the road toll in NSW - and the recent Easter holidays were no exception.   

As international travel is still limited due to COVID-19, there has been a significant increase in the number of people taking 'road trips' and travelling to regions within NSW for their holidays.  With this increased number of cars on our roads, the police force has been going to great lengths to try and enncourage people to drive carefully and therefore reduce the number of accidents.

Penalties for drivers caught doing the wrong thing can be harsh - particularly when someone is injured, or even killed, as a result of their actions on the road.  In some cases however, a simple and honest mistake can also lead to a police charge of negligent driving.

What constitutes Negligent Driving?

There are currently three levels, or classifications, of negligent driving in NSW:

1. Negligent driving

This is the least serious driving offence and usually involves a situation in which the police believe that a driver was at fault in a particular collision.  The majority of these cases do not result in serious injury to another party, and most are dealt with by way of a traffic infringement notice with either a fine or demerit points applied.

In some instances however, the police will decide to charge a driver and take the matter to Court.  The person charged will then be required to attend a Court hearing and face the possibility of higher penalties or license disqualification.

2.  Negligent driving occasioning grievous bodily harm (GBH)

In circumstances where serious harm has been caused to another person in a traffic incident, the driver found to be at fault can be charged with negligent driving occasioning grievous bodily harm.  The penalties for this offence can be severe and include a criminal conviction - even for a first time offender - or possible imprisonment.

3. Negligent driving occasioning death

If a driver is charged with negligent driving occasioning death, it is a serious offence that attracts severe penalties.  The Court will take into account a range of factors, including the degree of negligence, when hearing the case and will often consider some form of imprisonment as a penalty in addition to disqualification, financial penalties and criminal convictions.

If you have been charged with negligent driving, or have been involved in a vehicle accident and think that there is a possibility you may be charged, it is important that you speak to a lawyer as soon as possible.  At CDQ, we can advise you of the expected penalties and any options that may be available to you to defend your charge, or in some instances, reduce it to a lesser offence.  For more information contact CDQ Lawyers on 02 8566 2400.