What is the Meaning Of A Traffic Violation In NSW?

What is the Meaning Of A Traffic Violation In NSW?

Meaning Of A Traffic Violation In NSW

A traffic violation in NSW may result in severe penalties such as a fine, license disqualification or even imprisonment for serious offences. If a person has a prior conviction, their penalties may increase. Severe consequences for traffic offences in NSW help to keep the roads safe for all drivers, and reduce the likelihood of accidents.

Find out more about traffic offences in NSW, what are the major violations and the penalties involved.

Let’s take a closer look.

What Is A Traffic Offence?

Each state and territory in Australia has legislation that covers traffic offences. The severity of the offence can be determined by the penalty. For example, a major traffic offence in NSW will incur steep penalties, such as dangerous driving or predatory driving. 

Severe penalties help keep roads safe for users and decrease the number of incidents.

When a person is convicted of a serious traffic offence, it can negatively impact their life. As well as receiving a fine and spending time in prison, the incident remains on their criminal file, which can have a detrimental effect on their job prospects and future lifestyle.

What Are Some Of The Most Serious Traffic Offences?

The Road Transport Act lists the major traffic offences and their penalties, and in some cases of extremely serious offences, the offender may be prosecuted under the Crimes Act.

In New South Wales, a serious traffic offence is called a major offence, and some of the most serious offences include the following:

  • Predatory Driving
  • Dangerous Driving
  • Police Pursuits
  • Negligent Driving Causing Grievous Bodily Harm Or Death
  • Racing Activity
  • Reckless Or Furious Driving
  • Menacing Driving
  • Failing To Stop And Assist
  • Driving Whilst Under The Influence Of An Intoxicating Substance

Predatory Driving

A predatory driver will pursue another motor vehicle with the intent to impact the other car and cause physical harm to the driver. A person may be charged with predatory driving even when a collision does not occur, as the threat and intent are also an offence.

Dangerous Driving

There are several dangerous driving offences in NSW. All violations involve the offender driving a car that impacts another motor vehicle.

Depending on what happens after the accident, the severity of the offence will increase, such as if the impact caused grievous bodily harm or death. Additionally, if the circumstances include aggravation, the penalties will increase significantly. For example, aggravated dangerous driving causing death carries a penalty of 14 years imprisonment.

What Circumstances May Alter A Charge To Include Aggravation?

Charging a person with an aggravated offence means additional circumstances make it more serious. Dangerous driving offences may become aggravated in the following circumstances: 

  • Excessive speed – driving more than 45 km over the speed limit
  • Alcohol consumption – over the legal limit of alcohol
  • Pursued by police
  • Significantly affected by drugs

Police Pursuits

A person may be charged with a police pursuit offence when they refuse to pull over, drive at a dangerous speed or recklessly, such as driving dangerously for other road users. A person may be charged with an offence even when no harm or collision occurred, as failing to stop for police is the primary offence. 

Negligent Driving

A person may be charged with negligent driving when they commit an offence, such as using a mobile phone whilst driving. The offence may not involve speeding or intoxication, but instead negligent driving due to distraction.

Additional penalties may apply if the negligent driving causes grievous bodily harm or death.

Racing Activity

It is an offence to engage in any type of racing activity on the road without authorisation. Speed trials, racing other vehicles or attempting to break speed records attract harsh penalties.

Furious Or Reckless Driving

Furious or reckless driving involves driving in a dangerous manner and at dangerous speeds. Several factors may influence the court’s decision, for example, the condition of the road, any hazards, and the amount of traffic present. 

Menacing Driving

Menacing driving occurs when a person uses their vehicle to scare another person, and for them to fear that harm will come to them or their property. This offence may not always occur on the road.

Failing To Stop And Assist

Failing to stop and assist is when a person driving a vehicle has an accident and does not stop to help the damaged vehicle or other person involved. It may occur when the impact has resulted in the death of another person or has caused grievous bodily harm, and the driver of the offending motor vehicle is aware of the damage.

Driving Under The Influence

Under the Road Transport Act, it is illegal to operate a vehicle whilst under the influence of an intoxicating substance, such as alcohol or drugs.

The severity of the offence can be determined by the level of alcohol concentration in the blood, urine or saliva, and the status of the driver’s license.

What Are The Penalties For Major Traffic Offences In NSW?

Serious traffic violations put other people in danger. Penalties for a major traffic offence in NSW are therefore severe, and may often include a disqualification period and imprisonment. The penalties increase for any subsequent major traffic offence within five years.

The penalty for a police pursuit first-time offence is up to three years imprisonment. If it is a subsequent offence, the maximum penalty is five years.

The minimum penalty for negligent driving is a fine of $2200 and nine months imprisonment. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the offence and the level of harm caused, the penalties may increase, particularly, when grievous bodily harm or death occurs as a result.

The penalty for furious or reckless driving in New South Wales is a fine and up to nine months imprisonment for a first-time offence and up to 12 months for a subsequent offence.

Penalties for driving offences that cause death or grievous bodily harm vary from two years to lifetime imprisonment. All serious traffic offences incur an automatic license disqualification.

Possible Defences For Serious Traffic Offences

A person who has been charged with a serious traffic offence in NSW must be able to prove that their dangerous driving was not caused by any of the following:

  • The influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Driving at a dangerous speed
  • Driving in a dangerous manner

Additionally, the following defences may be applicable:

  • The serious traffic offence was not intentional
  • The authorisation was obtained from the appropriate authority
  • The defendant was not the driver of the vehicle
  • The vehicle had a mechanical fault

If the defendant can prove that these factors did not influence the offence, the penalties may be reduced or the charges dismissed.

Summary

In New South Wales, a serious traffic violation is a major offence, and some of the most serious offences include; predatory, dangerous or negligent driving, driving causing grievous bodily harm or death, police pursuits or failing to stop and assist.

When a person is charged with an aggravated offence, additional circumstances make it more serious. Dangerous driving offences may become aggravated if excessive speed, alcohol consumption or when drugs are involved.

The Road Transport Act lists the major traffic offences and their penalties. Serious traffic violations put other people in danger. Penalties for a major traffic offence in NSW are severe, and may often include a disqualification period and imprisonment. When a person is convicted of a serious traffic offence, it can negatively impact their life. As well as receiving a fine and spending time in prison, the incident remains on their criminal file, which can have a detrimental effect on their job prospects and future lifestyle. 

FAQs

What Is A Driving Offence In NSW?

In New South Wales, a serious traffic violation is a major offence, and some of the most serious incidents include, predatory, dangerous or negligent driving, driving causing grievous bodily harm or death, police pursuits or failing to stop and assist.

Serious traffic violations put other people in danger. Penalties for a major traffic offence in NSW are severe, and may often include a disqualification period and imprisonment. The severity of the offence can often be determined by the penalty. For example, a major traffic offence in NSW will incur steep penalties, which will increase for any subsequent major traffic offence within five years.

When a person is convicted of a serious traffic offence it can negatively impact their life. As well as receiving a fine and spending time in prison, the incident remains on their criminal file, which can have a detrimental effect on their job prospects and future lifestyle.

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