Dangerous Driving Causing Harm

Dangerous Driving Causing Harm

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

Dangerous driving causing harm 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;
  • your driving caused harm to a person.


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 penalty depends on whether it is an aggravated offence and whether the harm caused was serious. 

Serious harm is harm which endangers a person's life, results in serious and protracted physical or mental impairment, or results in serious disfigurement.

For an offence that causes serious harm, but there is no aggravating factor, the maximum penalty is 15 years imprisonment. If the offence is aggravated or it is a second offence, the maximum penalty is life imprisonment. You may also be disqualified from driving for 10 years or more.

For an offence which causes harm, rather than serious harm, but which is not aggravated, the maximum penalty is 5 years imprisonment and a driver's licence disqualification for 1 year. For an aggravated offence, or a second offence, the maximum penalty is 7 years imprisonment and a driver's licence disqualification for 3 years.

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