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In NSW, there are three main charges of negligent driving that a person may be charged with: negligent driving, negligent driving occasioning grievous bodily harm and negligent driving occasioning death.

A person charged with negligent driving will ordinarily receive a traffic infringement notice which carries with it, a fine and a loss of demerit points. The police will usually charge a person with negligent driving when they are at fault in a road accident. The court described in in R v Buttsworth (1983) 1 NSWLR 658 that it is not necessary to prove that the negligent driving has caused injury to a person or damage to property for a person to be charged with this offence.

Negligent driving occasioning grievous bodily harm or death are much more serious offences that carry higher maximum penalties, including lengthy licence disqualification periods, community service and imprisonment.

However, a person will not necessarily be guilty of negligent driving simply because a road collision has occurred. Instead it must be shown that a driver drove in a manner that was inconsistent with the manner that a reasonable prudent driver would have driven (R v Buttsworth (1983) 1 NSWLR 658). The court will consider all of the circumstances and factors at the time of the accident including the weather and traffic conditions.

The standard for negligent driving is relatively low and a driver will be negligent when they do not exercise the right amount of care and attention which would be exercised by a reasonable prudent driver in the same circumstances. This requires an objective view of the situation to be taken to consider whether the accident would have occurred, had a reasonable prudent driver been driving.

When the Court determines penalties for negligent driving, factors that must be considered include the degree of negligence and, whether there has been injures sustained by anyone as a result of the negligence, including the type and extent of such injuries.

There are other charges available when the driving is considered more serious than that of negligent driving. These charges include driving at a speed or in a manner dangerous to the public or reckless or furious driving. These offences carry more serious penalties than that of negligent driving.

If you have been charged with a negligent driving offence, the team at Kells can provide thorough advice to you about defending your case, the effects of pleading guilty or not-guilty and potential penalties that you may face.

The Kells Crminal Law Team.