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Dangerous Driving Occasioning Death/GBH

The Crimes Act 1900 contains several offences known as ‘dangerous driving’ offences. Each of these offences carries different penalties, varying in severity depending on the seriousness of the offence.

Being charged with any of these offences can be nothing short of devastating due to the risk of incarceration.

Dangerous Driving Occasioning Death

Elements

Dangerous driving occasioning death is characterised by two elements, both of which the prosecution needs to prove beyond reasonable doubt:

  1. That you were involved in a collision causing the death of another person
  2. At the time, you satisfied one of the following:
    1. You were driving the vehicle in a manner that was dangerous to other persons, 
    2. You were under the intoxicating influence of alcohol or a drug, 
    3. You were driving at a speed that was dangerous to others.

Penalties

The maximum penalty for this offence is ten years’ imprisonment, as stated under s 52A(1) of the Crimes Act.

Case law provides some guidance on determining the penalty an offender will face. In the case R v Whyte [2001], the court held that a total sentencing period, inclusive of non-parole, of less than three years for an offence where there was a high level of moral culpability on the part of the offender was not appropriate. 

Of the different penalties the court can impose are the following:

  • Fine
  • Community Correction Order
  • Intensive Correction Order

Aggravated Dangerous Driving Occasioning Death

Elements

To convict an individual of aggravated dangerous driving occasioning death, the prosecution must prove the following beyond a reasonable doubt: 

  1. You were involved in a collision causing the death of another person
  2. At the time of the collision, you satisfied one of the following:
    1. You were driving the vehicle in a manner that was dangerous to other persons.
    2. You were under the intoxicating influence of alcohol or a drug.
    3. You drove at a speed that was dangerous to another person.
  3. At least one ‘aggravating circumstance.’

Under the law, there are four aggravating circumstances that may result in an ‘aggravated dangerous driving occasioning a death’ charge:

  1. You had more than 0.15 grammes or more of alcohol in 210 litres of breath or 100 millilitres of blood (high range drink driving) 
  2. You were driving on a road at more than 45 kilometres over the speed limit 
  3. You were driving the vehicle to escape a police pursuit 
  4. Your ability to drive was affected by an intoxicating drug (other than alcohol) or a combination of drugs (which may have included alcohol).

Penalties

Section 52A (2) of the Crimes Act says that the maximum penalty for aggravated dangerous driving causing death is 14 years’ imprisonment.

Of the different penalties the court can impose are the following:

  • Fine
  • Community Correction Order
  • Intensive Correction Order

Dangerous Driving Occasioning Grievous Bodily Harm

Elements

To be found guilty of dangerous driving occasioning grievous bodily harm, the prosecution must prove the following two elements beyond a reasonable doubt: 

  1. You were involved in a collision that caused another person to suffer grievous bodily harm
  2. At the time of the collision, you satisfied one of the following:
    1. You were driving the vehicle in a manner that was dangerous to other persons
    2. You were under the influence of an intoxicating drug or alcohol
    3. You were driving at a speed that was dangerous to another person or person

Penalties

The maximum penalty for dangerous driving occasioning grievous bodily harm is 7 years imprisonment. 

The length of your sentence will depend on the level of ‘mural culpability’ that can be attributed to your actions, as affirmed in the case R v Whyte [2001].

Other types of penalties that the court can impose include:

  • Fine
  • Community Correction Order
  • Intensive Correction Order

Aggravated Dangerous Driving Occasioning Grievous Bodily Harm

Elements

The offence ‘aggravated dangerous driving occasioning grievous bodily harm’ consists of three elements that must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. You were involved in a collision that caused grievous bodily harm to another
  2. At the time, you satisfied one of the following:
    1. You were driving the vehicle in a manner that was dangerous to other persons
    2. You drove under the influence of an intoxicating drug or alcohol
    3. You were driving at a speed that was dangerous to another person or persons
  3. There was at least least one ‘aggravating circumstance’

An ‘aggravating circumstance’ is defined as a factor that makes the offence more serious. The prosecution needs to prove only one of the following four aggravated factors recognised under Australian law:

  1. You had more than 0.15 grammes or more of alcohol in 210 litres of breath or 100 millilitres of blood (high range drink driving) 
  2. You were driving on a road at more than 45 kilometres over the speed limit 
  3. You were driving the vehicle to escape a police pursuit 
  4. Your ability to drive was affected by an intoxicating drug (other than alcohol) or a combination of drugs (which may have included alcohol)

Penalties

The maximum penalty for aggravated dangerous driving occasioning grievous bodily harm is 11 years imprisonment.

Other types of penalties that the court can impose include:

  • Fine
  • Community Correction Order
  • Intensive Correction Order