Reckless Driving

What Actions Might Constitute Reckless Driving?

Reckless driving involves driving in a manner that creates an obvious and serious risk of physical injury to other road users. It means that you either gave no thought to the risk to other potential road users, or you did recognise that risk and chose to drive recklessly anyway.

Reckless driving has been defined as driving in such a way so as “to create a real risk of causing physical injury to someone else who happens to be using the road or damage to property more substantial than the kind of minor damage that may be caused by an error of judgment in the course of parking one’s car”. (R v Lawrence [1982] AC 510).

This might include, for example:

• overtaking at speed whilst approaching a blind rise;

• drifting over the centre of the road while rounding a corner;

• doing a burnout in the middle of a busy intersection.

Penalties

The offence of driving in a manner dangerous is seen as a serious traffic infringement in the state of NSW and incurs significant penalties as seen in section 117 of the Roads Transport Act. For first time offenders, the maximum penalty that could be enforced is imprisonment of up to 9 months and/or a maximum fine of $2,200. An offender will also incur an automatic disqualification of 3 years and a minimum disqualification of 1 year, enforceable by the Court. Alternatively, for subsequent offences the penalties are much more sufficient. A defendant will be liable to pay a fine of up to $3,300 and/or be sentenced to prison for a maximum of 12 months. An offender will also incur an automatic disqualification of 5 years and a minimum disqualification of 2 year, enforceable by the Court.

Penalty

First offence

Subsequent offence

Maximum fine

$2,200

$3,300

Maximum term of imprisonment

9 months

12 months

Automatic disqualification

3 years

5 years

Minimum disqualification

12 months

2 years

Maximum disqualification

Unlimited

Unlimited

Possible Defences

There are several possible defences, including:

• to maintain your innocence if you did not commit the act;

• to argue that you were not driving a motor vehicle;

• to argue that you were not driving recklessly; or

• to raise necessity or duress as the reason for your conduct.