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25 Nov 2021

What is Careless Driving?

Careless driving is defined in section 62 of the Road Traffic Act 1974 (WA) as driving “without due care and attention”.

Examples of behaviours which may be classified as careless could be, but are not limited to, the following:

  • going through a stop sign,
  • looking down as opposed to looking at, or concentrating on, the road ahead.
  • Crossing over lanes where the road is marked with solid white lines,
  • Drifting into another lane on the road, without realising.

It should also be noted that some of the above conduct could – in certain circumstances – amount to the more serious offences of dangerous or reckless driving. The act of careless driving is ordinarily not intentional or deliberate but arises as a direct result of inattention or a momentary lapse of judgement (i.e a poor split-second decision).

Sometimes a person might be incorrectly charged with dangerous or reckless driving, when in fact their conduct is more appropriately defined as careless. In these circumstances, we can help negotiate with the police, to persuade them to downgrade the charge to careless driving. 

What is the maximum penalty for an offence of Careless Driving?

The offence of Careless Driving is a fine only offence. This means that it does not attract any term of imprisonment. The maximum fine that a court could impose on a person charged with the offence is a fine in the sum of $1,500.00 (or 30 Penalty Units).

The exact amount of the fine will depend on your prior criminal history, the circumstances of the offence, and your personal antecedents and circumstances.

What if I am charged with Careless Driving Causing Bodily Harm, Grievous Bodily Harm (‘GBH’) or Death?

Careless driving causing bodily harm, grievous bodily harm, or death, is a more serious offence than of careless driving (simplicitor), because it means that you have driven carelessly, causing an incident, and subsequently caused harm to, or the death of, another person. as a result of that driving (through an accident).

What if the other driver of the incident could have done something to avoid the incident, or has an element of fault?

Section 59BA (2)(A) of the Road Traffic Act sets out that it is immaterial whether the injury or death of another person could have been avoided by proper precaution by the other driver, or drivers, involved in the incident.

What is the maximum penalty for an offence of Careless Driving Causing Bodily Harm, GBH or Death?

The maximum penalties which could be imposed by the court are the same whether it is a person’s first, second or subsequent offence.

  • A fine of $36,000.00; and
  • A term of imprisonment for a period of up to three years.

In addition to the above penalties, the court must also impose a mandatory minimum period of disqualification from driving for a period of 3 months.

Defence to Careless Driving Causing Bodily Harm, GBH or Death?

The only defence available for an offence of careless driving causing bodily harm, GBH or death is detailed in section 59B(7) of the Road Traffic Act. In order to rely on this defence a person charged with the offence must prove that the harm caused by the incident was not in any way related, or attributable, to the level of care and attention in which the vehicle was driven. It should be noted this is a defence only to the harm element of the offence – the charge could still proceed as careless driving (simplicitor).

Should you need any help with any Careless Driving Charge please do not hesitate to contact us.

*This is general information only, and does not constitute specific legal advice. Please consult one of our experienced Legal Team for specific advice relevant to your situation.

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