Elements of the offence
Any person who drives a motor vehicle in a negligent or reckless manner, at high speed, or in a manner that is dangerous to any person and as a result of that behaviour causes death or harm to another is guilty of an offence [Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935 s 19A].
Penalties for this offence are very harsh and even a first offence can carry a maximum sentence of 15 years imprisonment. If the offence is found to be an aggravated offence* it can carry a term of life imprisonment. The penalty for this offence will also involve a disqualification of at least 10 years, or possibly longer, if a court orders.
Even where a death or serious harm is not caused to any person it is possible to receive a penalty of up to 5 years imprisonment and a disqualification of at least 1 year.
* An aggravated offence is an offence committed under the following circumstances:
- the person committed the offence in the course of attempting to escape pursuit by a police officer
- the person was, at the time of the offence, driving a vehicle in a street race
- the person was, at the time of the offence, driving a vehicle knowing that he or she was disqualified from holding a driver’s licence or his or her licence was suspended
- the person committed the offence as part of a prolonged, persistent and deliberate course of bad driving
- the person committed the offence while there was present in his or her blood a blood alcohol level of 0.08 grams or more of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood
- the person was, at the time of the offence, driving a vehicle in contravention of s 45A (excessive speed), 47 (driving under the influence) or 47BA (driving with a prescribed drug in oral fluid or blood) of the Road Traffic Act 1961
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