Dangerous Driving Causing Death or GBH
Dangerous operation of a motor vehicle, commonly called dangerous driving, causing death or grievous bodily harm is a very serious criminal offence in Queensland and it carries a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment. If you are found guilty of dangerous driving your licence will be disqualified for a minimum of 6 months in addition to any other penalty that is imposed.
Subsection 328A(4) of the Queensland Criminal Code creates the offence and states:
“A person who operates, or in any way interferes with the operation of, a vehicle dangerously in any place and causes the death of or grievous bodily harm to another person commits a crime and is liable on conviction on indictment—
- to imprisonment for 10 years, if neither paragraph (b) nor (c) applies; or
- to imprisonment for 14 years if, at the time of committing the offence, the offender is—
- adversely affected by an intoxicating substance; or
- excessively speeding; or
- taking part in an unlawful race or unlawful speed trial; or
- to imprisonment for 14 years, if the offender knows, or ought reasonably know, the other person has been killed or injured, and the offender leaves the scene of the incident, other than to obtain medical or other help for the other person, before a police officer arrives.”
In order for you to be convicted of an offence of dangerous driving causing death or grievous bodily harm, the police must prove that:
- You were driving a motor vehicle, or you interfered with someone who was, and
- Your driving, or interference, was dangerous, and
- As a result of your driving or interference, another person was killed or suffered grievous bodily harm.
What Might Constitute Aggravated Dangerous Driving?
Police can allege that you were driving dangerously because of something which they say is inherently dangerous, for example running a red light, or they can argue that your driving was dangerous because of something particular about the circumstances surrounding your driving, for example driving a seriously defective vehicle.
In determining whether or not you were driving dangerously, the court must take into account the condition of the road and amount of traffic that would be expected to be on that road at that time. The presence of alcohol or another intoxicating substance in your system might also give rise to an allegation that you were driving dangerously, simply by reason of your level of intoxication.
It is highly likely that, if the police allege your driving was dangerous because of the speed at which you were travelling or your level of intoxication, they will charge you with an aggravated offence of dangerous driving causing death or grievous bodily harm.
If you commit the offence of dangerous driving causing death or grievous bodily harm and you are, at the time, speeding, intoxicated or participating in an unlawful street race you are liable to a higher maximum penalty of 14 years imprisonment.
Similarly if you leave the scene of the incident before a police officer arrives, you may be liable for a higher, 14 year, maximum sentence.
The matters which the police must prove to substantiate either of these aggravated offences are the same as for dangerous driving itself (i.e. that you were driving and your driving was dangerous) but they must also prove the aggravating facts as well.
Which Court Will Hear Your Matter?
Dangerous driving causing death or grievous bodily harm, including the aggravated offences, will be herd in the District Court.
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.