Careless Driving Charges – Withdrawn
Location: Moorabbin Magistrates’ Court
Our client was driving in an area where street lighting was poor, it was night time and raining heavily. The car travelling in front of our client suddenly veered off to the right, revealing a dark silhouette which turned out to be a motorcyclist whose bike had lost power at that moment. Our client did not have sufficient time to react and ended up hitting the motorcycle. The collision caused the other person to fall off his bike, suffering minor injuries; the bike was damaged.
Police were called to the scene; and our client told police that he did not have enough time to stop. Police proceeded to charge him with careless driving.
What happened next:
After being charged, the client asked police about his options, prompting the informant to recommend diversion. The client researched what diversion was and found it to be an appealing outcome in this case. He went to court by himself thinking this was something he could handle without representation. He spoke with the prosecutor, who gave him a list of things to do if he wanted diversion, namely writing letters of apology and gratitude, and completing a safe driving program.
The client then set out to complete these tasks, and after many months and several court attendances, finally found himself sitting with the Diversion coordinator. The interview went well, and just as the client was beginning to feel relieved, he was called back to the counter and advised that the magistrate has refused diversion. The client went into court to make submissions, but was unable to persuade the magistrate into granting diversion. It was at this point that the client decided that he should probably speak to a lawyer. The matter was adjourned yet again, this time to give him the opportunity to obtain legal advice.
The client came in to see one of our traffic lawyers and expressed a great deal of frustration at the magistrates’ refusal to grant diversion. Ironically, upon reading the brief and taking detailed instructions from the client, our lawyer advised him that he was in a sense lucky that the magistrate refused diversion, because in this case it would not have been a good deal, considering the demerit points he stood to lose, and the likelihood of having to compensate the victim.
What our lawyer was able to quickly point out to the client was that he in fact had a very strong case and should therefore plead not guilty.
There is a simple proposition to understand in relation to careless driving and it is this, just because there is an accident does not mean that someone was careless. Sometimes accidents happen and no is to blame. In this case there was a suggestion of heavy rain, a slippery road surface and poor visibility that night. Two other drivers had pulled over upon witnessing the accident and gave their contact details to the client. One of these witnesses says the motorcyclist was wearing all black and when his bike suddenly lost power, he became an almost invisible hazard on the road. The other witness says at the time he was driving alongside our client’s car, everyone was doing 30km/hr because of the heavy rain, and that this witness struggled to see more than 10 meters in front of him. Both of these witnesses then left before police arrived. The client had this information with him the whole time, but did not know how to use it in court.
Our lawyer got on the phone with these witnesses, and was told by one of them that he too would have likely hit that motorcyclist if he had been in our client’s position, because visibility was so bad and that motorcyclist was simply asking for trouble by not moving off the road quickly enough after his bike broke down.
To further advance the client’s case, our lawyer obtained climate data and rainfall reports from the Bureau of Meteorology covering the day of the alleged offence. The reports were wholly consistent with heavy rain on that night, in that area.
Armed with favourable independent witness statements and weather data, we went in and had a case conference arguing that in all the circumstances, including heavy rain, poor visibility, slippery road surface undermining the effects of braking, conduct of the motorcyclist, manner of our client’s driving as observed by one witness; that the prosecution would struggle to make out this charge.
The prosecutor conceded that weather and road conditions were very bad, but argued that our client could have avoided the collision had he kept a proper distance from the vehicle in front, and then went on to highlight the fact that the vehicle in front was able to swerve in time to avoid a collision. Well, the problem with this argument was that the vehicle in front of our client had vision of the motorcycle before it broke down, and was therefore in a much better position to take evasive action when the bike suddenly stopped. Our client did not have the benefit of the same information. Also, the test is whether the client exercised a level of care and attention expected of a reasonable driver in those circumstances, not that he should have been able swerve away at the last minute just because the driver in front managed to do that.
After a lengthy discussion, the prosecutor agreed to withdraw the charge. The client was very happy with the outcome.
This case shows how important it is to speak with an experienced lawyer early to ensure the absolute best possible outcome. This client almost resolved the matter by way of diversion, which in many cases would be the most preferred outcome, but not in this particular case. Why settle for diversion when you can get an acquittal instead? Do you have to attend Moorabbin Magistrates Court, get in touch with our Moorabbin Lawyers today.