Negligent Driving QLD: Guide to Dangerous Driving Laws and Consequences

Negligent driving QLD means driving without the reasonable consideration typically expected of all motorists. In Queensland, there are penalties for dangerous driving. Learn how it works.
An angry man behind the steering wheel doing dangerous and negligent driving

Did you know that dangerous driving behaviours like excessive speeding cause about 30% of all fatal traffic accidents in Queensland? Consequently, negligent driving puts your life and that of other road users at risk.

But even if you don’t suffer grievous bodily harm or death in a traffic accident, careless driving can still adversely affect you. The violent force of traffic accidents associated with the dangerous operation of a motor vehicle can cause severe bodily injury or serious disfigurement.

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Major Topics

  • Knowing Queensland’s dangerous driving laws is vital for avoiding penalties and ensuring the safety of all motorists.
  • Police officers have the power to enforce these laws, which can result in fines, penalties, or actual imprisonment when aggravated factors like excessive speeding cause collisions.
  • Obeying speed limits and being a safe driver will help prevent being charged with careless driving.

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About Negligent Driving QLD

As defined under Queensland law, negligent driving is the careless operation of a vehicle. That is, driving without the appropriate level of care and attention expected from a reasonable and prudent driver. These careless driving traffic offences include:

  • Excessively speeding
  • Operation of a motor vehicle while under the influence
  • Otherwise, engage in reckless behaviour on Queensland roads.

Police officers are tasked with enforcing Queensland’s dangerous driving laws. Penalties for driving without due care and attention include:

  • Fines
  • Demerit points
  • Revoking a driver licence

To understand what constitutes negligent driving in Queensland, you must know the difference between careless driving, dangerous driving, and other related traffic offences. Understanding the role police powers play in identifying and charging drivers with dangerous driving offences is also helpful.

A police officer with his hand up, stopping a car for dangerous driving qld

The Difference Between Careless Driving and Driving Dangerously

Careless driving and driving dangerously are not the same offence.

Careless driving is generally defined as operating a motor vehicle without reasonable consideration for other people. It is also known as ‘driving without due care and attention’.

In contrast, a dangerous driving charge involves the careless operation of a vehicle without due care and attention, considering all the circumstances. Examples include:

  • Excessively speeding
  • Adversely affected by an intoxicating substance
  • Participating in an unlawful race or unlawful speed trial, either in public or on private property
  • Reckless driving causing death

Remember that driving a vehicle dangerously is a criminal offence under Section 328 of the Criminal Code (Qld), while careless driving is merely a traffic offence.

Knowing the difference between careless and dangerous driving is vital, given the significantly different potential penalties. For instance, the maximum penalty for careless driving in Queensland is six months imprisonment or 40 penalty units, which is $6,192 as of July 1, 2023. Meanwhile, dangerous driving has harsher penalties, as outlined below.

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Queensland Driving Laws and Penalties

Section 328A of the Criminal Code outlines the rules for a dangerous driving criminal offence in Queensland. Generally, it is easier to successfully prosecute a dangerous driving offence than some other traffic offences, like motor vehicle manslaughter. That’s because negligence is not considered in traffic-related criminal legal matters.

These are the current penalties for careless driving offences in Queensland.

Dangerous Driving Offence

The maximum penalty for dangerous vehicle operation is 400 penalty units and/or five years imprisonment. However, the maximum penalty increases to fourteen years imprisonment if the driver is intoxicated, speeding, drag racing or has a criminal history of such offences.

All Queensland motorists should know the severe consequences of dangerous driving charges and the potential penalties for these offences particularly if you are charged with dangerous driving.

Careless Driving in Queensland

On the other hand, as mentioned earlier, the maximum penalty for careless driving in Queensland is 200 penalty units ($23,560) or a maximum prison sentence of six months.

Licence Disqualification

When a court prohibits a driver from operating a vehicle for a predetermined amount of time, it is known as licence disqualification. Regardless of whether the court imposes a penalty, drivers in Queensland found guilty of careless driving often face a period in which their licence is revoked.

Criminal Conviction

In some cases, a driver who has committed a dangerous driving offence can face imprisonment as punishment by a district court. This penalty is more likely when the criminal offence involves drugs or alcohol, speeding, a drag race, or another unlawful race.

A car accident caused by careless driving

QLD Police Powers

Police in Queensland have the authority to uphold the Transport Operations (Road Use Management) Act 1995, particularly Section 83, which criminalises negligent driving of a motor vehicle. Thanks to this legislation, they now have the authority to stop and detain drivers who they suspect of driving dangerously. 

Please understand your rights in this situation. This includes the right to remain silent and the option to only provide information about yourself, such as your name, address, and driver’s licence.

To establish a careless driving offence, Queensland police must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the driver failed to drive carefully and disregarded the safety of other road users.

What to do if Charged With Negligent Driving QLD

If you have been charged with negligent driving, please take action to protect your legal rights. The next section covers why you need effective legal representation before you attend court and other top tips for managing a traffic offence.

Seeking Legal Representation

Getting legal representation for dangerous driving charges helps you get the best outcome. A criminal lawyer will help you:

  • Understand your traffic offence
  • Collect evidence
  • Develop an effective defence strategy
  • Negotiating with the prosecution on your behalf, seeking to reduce the penalties or charges
  • Representing you in a district or magistrates court

Preparing for a Court Appearance

Demonstrating respect and professionalism is key when preparing for a court appearance related to a dangerous driving offence. This includes:

  • Dressing appropriately
  • Arriving on time
  • Showing respect to the judge and other court officials
  • Following instructions
  • Presenting your case
  • Remaining calm and composed

It is advisable to seek legal advice for specific guidance tailored to your particular case. During a court hearing for a traffic offence, you can anticipate that the hearing will take place in the Magistrates Court. The court has discretion in determining the actual penalty, which may include:

  • fines
  • demerit points
  • disqualification from driving
  • probation
  • imprisonment
Getting legal representation before attending court

Your Rights and Responsibilities

For drivers in Queensland, knowing your rights and obligations—including adhering to the road rules—is essential to maintaining a valid driver’s licence.

Know Your Rights

Drivers in Queensland have several fundamental rights, including:

  • Driving safely and taking due diligence to avoid endangering or hurting other road users
  • The right to legal representation when charged with dangerous driving
  • The capacity to present their case and provide evidence in their defence
  • The ability to challenge the evidence presented against them
  • The right to a fair trial
  • An opportunity to appeal the decision if found guilty

Obeying Road Rules

Their responsibilities include:

  • Exercising due care to prevent harm to other motorists
  • Ensuring the safety of their driving activities
  • Following safety standards and insurance requirements when transporting hazardous materials
  • Meeting their obligations if they are involved in a motor vehicle accident

Some of the primary Queensland road rules relate to the following:

  • Changing lanes and merging
  • Yielding
  • Keeping left and overtaking
  • Roundabouts
  • Road markings
  • Maintaining safe following distances

Steps to Avoid Being Charged With Dangerous Driving

Avoiding a dangerous driving charge is the key to maintaining a spotless driving record. Next, we discuss why you need to obey speed limits and how to steer clear of a dangerous driving offence.

Adhering to Speed Limits

Sticking to speed limits helps avoid a traffic offence since you won’t be prosecuted for excessively speeding. Obeying the road rules by refraining from reckless driving reduces the risk of a road accident. In Queensland, the speed limit in built-up areas is 50 km/h unless otherwise stated, while in non-built-up areas, the speed limit is generally 100 km/h.

The consequences of excessive speeding include the following:

  • Charged with careless driving
  • Fines and demerit points
  • Suspended driver’s licence
  • Imprisonment for severe cases

Safe Driving Techniques

Safe driving habits help safeguard all vehicle drivers while reducing the chance of a traffic infringement. Some of the best safe driving techniques include the following:

  • Paying attention to one’s surroundings and preventing distractions
  • Adhering to the 3 to 4-second rule
  • Maintaining a reasonable speed
  • Obey traffic lights
  • Displaying courtesy and patience towards other motorists
  • Resisting aggressive driving
  • Adjusting to different driving conditions
  • Don’t drive under the influence
  • Wearing a seat belt
An x-ray of a skull showing signs of grievous bodily harm

Compensation for Dangerous or Careless Driving

You can be financially compensated when someone commits a serious offence while driving without reasonable consideration. Queensland compensation laws give you the right to make a personal injury claim for the negligent actions of other people, regardless of whether you were a passenger, another driver, pedestrian, cyclist, motorbike rider, or in any other circumstance.

This right extends to all criminal offences relating to the dangerous operation of a motor vehicle, including:

  • Excessively speeding
  • Drag racing or other unlawful races
  • Driving into oncoming traffic
  • Ignoring traffic lights
  • Driving on an intoxicating substance
  • Dangerous driving causing death
  • Any other reckless, careless or negligent criminal traffic offence

Splatt Lawyers understands it is traumatic to be injured in severe traffic accidents, so we aim to make your legal matter as stress-free as possible. Because of their thirty years of experience, you can rely on our motor vehicle accident lawyers for expert legal advice regarding car accident claims. Additionally, you can rest easy knowing that all our legal services are fully funded on a 100% no-win, no-fee basis. It’s free to know where you stand, so Call Now: 1800 700 125

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Dangerous Driving Offence FAQs

What is a negligent driving charge in Australia?

Negligent driving in Australia is the offence of driving a vehicle without exercising the level of care and attention that a reasonable and prudent driver would exercise, which can put the driver, the public and other persons at risk of injury or death.

What is the driver’s duty of care in QLD?

In Queensland, all drivers must take reasonable steps to prevent harm to other road users, including passengers, cyclists, and pedestrians.

What is the penalty for dangerous driving of a motor vehicle in Australia?

The penalty for dangerous driving in Australia depends on the state where the criminal offence occurred. Furthermore, the level of punishment for driving without reasonable consideration also depends on whether:

  • You have been convicted of the same offence previously
  • It was a first or subsequent conviction
  • You ignored or obeyed law enforcement officers

What is the penalty for death or grievous bodily harm in Queensland?

According to Section 321 of the Criminal Code of 1899, a driver may face charges for a traffic offence if they were a significant contributing factor in an accident that resulted in death or grievous bodily harm to another person.

The maximum punishment for this extremely serious offence is ten years in prison. If the driver who caused the accident was driving too fast or left the scene following the accident, their sentence can be increased to 14 years in prison.

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