Menacing driving or “road rage” is one of the more serious driving offences that can be charged in the ACT. It requires both a physical element (conduct) and a mental element (intent or knowledge, depending on how the matter is charged).
The charge of menacing driving is similar to furious, reckless and dangerous driving and is found in section 8 of the Road Transport (Safety and Traffic Management) Act 1999. The maximum penalty is a fine of $15,000 and/or imprisonment for one year. The mandatory minimum licence disqualification for menacing driving is three months for a first offender and 12 months for a repeat offender. The courts can impose more if they find it appropriate.
What must be proven
To be found guilty, you must not only be found to have driven in a way that menaces someone else, but to have done so with the intention of menacing the other person (or in circumstances where you ought to have known that the other person might be menaced).
The offence is made out whether the other person is menaced by a threat of personal injury or by a threat of damage to property and whether or not the other person or that property is on a road or “road-related area”. The Act defines a road-related area as:
- an area that divides a road; or
- a footpath or nature strip adjacent to a road; or
- an area that is open to the public and is designated for use by cyclists or animals; or
- an area that is not a road and that is open to or used by the public for driving, riding or parking vehicles; or
- a shoulder of a road.
Any other area that is open to or used by the public can from time to time be declared a road-related area by the Minister for Transport, under the Road Transport (General) Act 1999.
The Road Transport (Safety and Traffic Management) Act 1999 provides that a person does not commit menacing driving if the person “could not, in the circumstances, reasonably avoid menacing the other person”. It states that a person cannot be found guilty from the one incident of both having intent to menace and simultaneously assuming to know the other person might be menaced. Similarly, a person cannot be found guilty of either negligent driving or dangerous driving and menacing driving arising out of a single incident.
Which court will hear the matter?
As menacing driving carries a maximum penalty of one year in prison, charges are dealt with in the Magistrates Court.
If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.