Dangerous Driving Causing Death

Dangerous Driving Causing Death

It is an offence to drive a vehicle in a culpably negligent manner, recklessly or at a dangerous speed where that driving results in a person's death.

What court will hear the matter

Causing death by dangerous driving is a major indictable offence. The case will commence in the Magistrates Court of South Australia and if there is sufficient evidence against you, the case will be transferred to the District Court of South Australia.

What the prosecution must prove

The prosecution must prove that:

  • you were driving a motor vehicle;
  • your driving was negligent, reckless or at a dangerous speed; and
  • your driving caused a person's death or substantially contributed to that person's death.


There are a range of possible defences including, but not limited to, the following:

  • you were not driving;
  • you were driving with due care;
  • you were carrying out your duties as an emergency worker;
  • honest and reasonable mistake of fact (Proudman v Dayman defence);
  • duress;
  • necessity / emergency;
  • mental impairment.

Pleading guilty

Deciding whether or not to plead guilty has significant implications and should be made after discussing your case with our lawyers. If you decide to plead guilty to the offence, our lawyers can assist you to get the best possible results.


The maximum penalty depends on whether or not it is an aggravated offence. For a basic offence, the maximum penalty is 15 years imprisonment. For an aggravated offence, or for a second offence, the maximum penalty is life imprisonment. You may also be disqualified from driving for 10 years or more. 

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