In NSW, the offence of police pursuit is listed under section 51B of the Crimes Act 1900. The offence is also known as Skye’s Law as it was introduced after the toddler Skye Sassine was killed when a driver attempting to escape police crashed into her parent’s car.
The Offence of Police Pursuit:
The offence of Police Pursuit is contained in section 51B of the Crimes Act 1900 which states:
The driver of a vehicle:
- Who knows, ought reasonably to know or has reasonable grounds to suspect that police officers are in pursuit of the vehicle and that the driver is required to stop the vehicle, and
- Who does not stop the vehicle, and
- Who then drives the vehicle recklessly or at a speed or in a manner dangerous to others,
is guilty of an offence.
What Penalties am I Facing?
The maximum penalty for “Police Pursuit” is 3 years gaol for a first offence, or 5 years in gaol if you have been convicted of another major offence in the 5 years immediately before.
How Long Will I Lose My Licence for?
There is a minimum disqualification period of 1 year and an automatic period of 3 years.
What the Police Must Prove for Police Pursuit:
In order for the police to prove their case at Court, they must prove each of the following matters beyond a reasonable doubt that:
- The driver knew, ought reasonably to have known or has reasonable grounds to suspect that police officers were in pursuit;
- The driver knew, ought reasonably to have known or has reasonable grounds to suspect that the driver was required to stop the vehicle;
- The driver did not stop the vehicle, and;
- The driver subsequently drove the vehicle recklessly or at a speed or in a manner dangerous to others.
Possible Defences for Police Pursuit:
- The driver did not know the police were pursuing and had no reason to suspect they were pursuing (perhaps because the lights and sirens could not be heard);
- That the driver did not drive the vehicle recklessly or at a speed or in a manner dangerous to others after the pursuit was engaged;
Can I Avoid the Conviction and Licence Disqualification?
In rare cases the Court may exercise its discretion to impose a section 10(1)(a) or a section 9(1)(b) non conviction order. Section 9(1)(b) has replaced a section 10(1)(b) bond.
If you are particularly concerned about a conviction being recorded against you or the loss of licence it is important that you seek legal advice as soon as possible.
WHERE TO NEXT?
In NSW, traffic offences are treated seriously. Therefore, it is important to get competent legal advice as early as possible, whether you have received a penalty notice, had your licence suspended or been charged with a serious offence. Our lawyers are highly experienced and understand the difficulties you face without a licence. We can guide you through the process while dealing with the various authorities related to your matter.