What is “Dangerous Operation of a Motor Vehicle”?

Dangerous Operation of Motor Vehicle

Any person who operates, or in any way interferes with the operation of, a vehicle dangerously in any place is committing a misdemeanour under section 328A of the Criminal Code 1899 (Qld).

The person commits a crime if any of the following circumstances of aggravation are alleged:

  • The offender is adversely affected by an intoxicating substance at the time
  • The offender is excessively speeding or taking part in an unlawful race or unlawful speed trial (excessively speeding means more than 40 km/h over the speed limit)
  • The offender has previously been convicted of this offence
  • The offender operates, or in any way interferes with the operation of, a vehicle dangerously in any place and causes the death of grievous bodily harm to another person

The reasons behind the dangerous driving and the driver’s state of mind are irrelevant. There must be, however, an element of fault on the driver’s part that contributed to the driving.

The term ‘operates, or in any way interferes with the operation of, a vehicle dangerously means operate, or in any way interfere with the operation of, a vehicle at a speed or in a way that is dangerous to the public, having regard to all the circumstances, including –

(a) the nature, condition and use of the place; and

(b) the nature and condition of the vehicle; and

(c) the number of persons, vehicles or other objects that are, or might reasonably be expected to be, in the place; and

(d) the concentration of alcohol in the operator’s blood or breath; and

(e) the presence of any other substance in the operator’s body.

A place does not include a place being lawfully used to race or test vehicles under a licence or another authority under an Act from which other traffic is excluded at the time.

It is not relevant to show there was ‘actual danger’ to others, as potential danger to the public is sufficient to for a driver to be liable for this offence. The Court will consider the circumstances of each case having regard to all the circumstances to determine whether the driving amounts to ‘dangerous’.

What court will the matter be finalised in?

The Magistrates Court has jurisdiction to deal with the offence of Dangerous operation of a motor vehicle, unless there is the circumstance of aggravation that it caused death or grievous bodily harm. The Magistrate can also abstain from dealing with the matter if they consider a penalty of more than three (3) years may be imposed at sentence due to their sentencing limitations.

The maximum penalty for the offence of Dangerous Driving, without any other circumstances of aggravation alleged is 200 penalty units which amounts to a $26,110 fine or three years imprisonment.

If a person has committed the offence whilst under the influence of alcohol while racing; excessively speeding or if you has previously been convicted of the same offence the maximum penalty is increased to 400 penalty units ($52,220) or five years imprisonment.

If the dangerous driving has caused death or grievous bodily harm to another person, the matter must be finalised in the District Court. An offender that is found guilty of this offence is liable to a maximum penalty of up to 10 years imprisonment. However, if the offender was affected by either drugs or alcohol at the time, excessively speeding or street racing, or leaving the scene before police arrive if they should reasonably have been able to tell someone had been injured or killed, the maximum penalty that may be imposed is 14 years imprisonment.

If an accused is convicted of dangerously operating a vehicle, there is a mandatory minimum disqualification period of six months.  If they are convicted of Dangerous operation of a motor vehicle that resulted in Grievous Bodily Harm or death the mandatory minimum disqualification period is one year.  The minimum disqualification periods increase if a person has prior convictions for dangerous driving or drink driving.

It is clear through the maximum penalties allowed for this offence that Parliament considers it is a very serious offence, which is reflected in the penalties imposed by the Courts. This is due to the potential harm to others on the road.

This post contains general advice only and is not intended as legal advice.