However, there are still times when you may be caught driving carelessly or dangerously despite your efforts to drive responsibly. In this regard, it’s important for you to learn more about these offences and what you can do if you happen to commit them.
Careless Driving vs Dangerous Driving
You can be charged with careless driving if the police deems that you were not able to drive with the same care and attention as a level-headed driver would. In most cases, law enforcers can charge you with careless driving when you cause an accident, although the occurrence of an accident is not necessary for you to be charged with this offence.
Examples of careless driving are when you swerve for no reason in your own lane; when you tailgate a car and then crash into it when it suddenly slows down; and when you fail to give way at a give way sign, in turn causing a collision.
If proven to be negligently driving a vehicle, you may be charged with careless driving, which is often implicated in addition to another offence, such as when a driver collides with stationary objects, which may entirely be their error. However, if the driver pleads guilty to the other offence being charged against them, then it’s possible for the police to withdraw the charge against careless driving.
Other defences against a charge for this offence include a claim that someone else was responsible for the driving or that there was an extraordinary and sudden emergency.
Dangerous driving, on the other hand, is defined as driving at a speed or in a reckless fashion that can be dangerous to any person. If you get caught driving at high speeds, you may be charged with dangerous driving even when you did not pose danger on anyone but yourself.
Examples of dangerous driving are when you speed past a primary school at 90 km per hour; when you speed through a residential zone at 120 km per hour; or when you drive on the wrong side of the road through a busy intersection.
Various factors are taken into account to determine if your driving is considered dangerous. These include the time of the day; the presence of other vehicles or people; the condition of the roads and intersections; and the vehicle’s condition. The possibility of human error — such as driving under the influence of drugs — will also be determined.
One possible defence against this charge is that you were not driving dangerously. However, since every case is unique, it is treated with an individual strategy and approach.
Statistics show that vehicular accidents among the youth often occur due to driving when exhausted; while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs; or when driving at a high speed. In addition, those aged between 20 and 24 years are more likely to engage in the offence of driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs, which in turn may lead to driving dangerously.
If you have been charged with basic or non-aggravated careless driving, you can be penalised with up to $2500 and given three demerit points. If you are indicted with an aggravated offence, you may also be sentenced with imprisonment for 12 months at the most or get at least six months of disqualification.
Careless driving may be considered aggravated if the following occur:
- Death or serious injury is inflicted on another individual
- The offending driver attempts to get away from a police search
- The offender drove their vehicle despite a disqualification from driving
- The offender is found to have a blood alcohol level of 0.08 or greater at the time of the misdemeanor
- The offender was driving at a high speed or under the influence of drugs
If you are found guilty of dangerous driving, you may be sentenced to imprisonment for two years at the most. If you are a first-time offender, the court can also order a disqualification of 12 months at the least. However, if you have been charged repeatedly then the prison term may be for at least three years. The offence is considered subsequent if you have committed it within five years of an earlier similar offense.
The facts and conditions of your case will determine if you are guilty or not. It must be proven by the prosecution that you were not driving carefully, as expected of a reasonable individual driving on the road. Some examples where you might be found guilty of the offence include unsuccessfully keeping a viewpoint; failing to keep the appropriate distance from other cars; or driving at high speeds.
However, despite the strong circumstances that might put you in jail or oblige you to pay the designated fine, possible defences are also available to support your claim. These include proving that you were driving with a suitable amount of care or that you were not the driver.
Driving carefully and responsibly will help you avoid the legal entanglements brought about by charges of careless and dangerous driving. However, if you ever get charged with such offences, then you might need to consult a qualified criminal law specialist who possesses the expertise and experience to help you come up with the best solution to your dilemma. We are ready to extend a helping hand should you need legal assistance for any case.
Contact our team today to discuss your legal matters.