Dangerous Driving Offences
In Western Australia, the Road Traffic Act encompasses various offences relating to dangerous driving, reckless driving and careless driving. There is a range of driving behaviours that can give rise to these charges, including excessive speeding, hooning and doing burnouts.
A person charged with one of these offences may be found guilty of another offence as an alternative verdict. All these offences carry terms of imprisonment as well as fines and periods of licence disqualification.
Section 61 of the Western Australian Road Traffic Act 1974 defines dangerous driving as driving a motor vehicle in a manner that is dangerous to the public or to any person. This can include speeding and other dangerous driving behaviour.
When judging whether a person was driving dangerously, courts consider a number of factors. These include
- the nature and quality of the driving
- how much traffic was on the road at the time
- how many pedestrians were in the area at that time
- the condition of the road
- the weather conditions
- the health and condition of the driver
- the experience of the driver, and
- the driver’s level of familiarity with that particular road.
A common example of dangerous driving behaviour is using a mobile phone illegally whilst driving – for example, to send a text message.
In Western Australia, hoon driving is another example of dangerous driving. Hoon driving usually occurs when a person drives at very high speed or in a manner that is considered highly dangerous or antisocial.
Hoon driving may include:
- intentionally causing tyres to lose traction
- causing a motor vehicle to make excessive noise or smoke
- exceeding the speed limit by 45 km/h or more, and/or
- taking part in a race or speed trial on a public road or in a public space.
Vehicles that are driven in a reckless or dangerous manner can be impounded under the Road Traffic Act 1974. WA Police also have the power to impound vehicles used to exceed the speed limit by 45 km/h or more. A person who has their vehicle impounded by police is responsible for all associated costs including towing and storage.
Under Section 61(3)(a) of the Act, a first offence of dangerous driving can attract a fine of up to 60 penalty units. For a second offence, a person can be fined up to 120 penalty unit and/or imprisoned for up to nine months.
The court must also suspend the offender’s licence for 12 months.
A person charged with dangerous driving may instead be convicted of an offence of careless driving) or hooning, depending on the circumstances of the offence
A person commits an offence under Section 60 of the Road Traffic Act if they drive in a reckless manner. This includes driving at speed or in any other way that is inherently dangerous to the public or to any person.
A person commits an offence under Section 60A if they drive at a reckless speed (ie 155km/h or more).
A person found guilty of reckless driving or of driving at a reckless speed is liable to the following penalties:
- for a first offence, a fine of 120 penalty units or imprisonment for nine months and disqualification from driving for at least six months;
- for a second offence, a fine of 180 penalty units or imprisonment for nine months and disqualification from driving for at least 12 months;
- for a third or subsequent offence, a fine of 240 penalty units or imprisonment for 12 months and disqualification from driving for life.
It is an offence under Section 62 of the Road Traffic Act to drive a motor vehicle without due care and attention.
A person who willfully drives a motor vehicle so as to cause excessive noise or smoke to come from one or more of the vehicle’s tyres or a substance on the driving surface is also guilty of an offence under this section.
If you have been charged with dangerous, reckless or careless driving, it is important to remember that you may be found guilty under any of the other relevant sections of the Act and so may receive a heftier sentence and, in some circumstances, even a term of imprisonment.
If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.
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.