Have you been charged with Dangerous or negligent driving whilst being pursued by police?
Per section 319AA of the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic) it is an offence to drive a motor vehicle dangerously or negligently while being pursued by police if a person has been given a direction to stop by police.
Pursuant to the section a person must not drive a motor vehicle dangerously or negligently if s/he knows, or ought reasonably to know, that s/he has been given a direction to stop the vehicle by a police officer, and a police officer is pursuing the vehicle.
The meaning of “direction to stop” is defined in section 64A(5) of the Road Safety Act and applies to s 319AA of Crimes Act 1958 (Vic). Section 64A(5) gives a non-exhaustive definition of what a direction to stop might mean. It has been held to include, but is not limited to:
(a) showing hand signals or display signs by police or protective services officers (PSOs); or
(b) flashing headlights, use of red and blue flashing lights, or sounding of an alarm, siren or other warning devices of a motor vehicle driven by police in the course of his or her duties as a police officer.
Section 64A of the Road Safety Act is often laid as an alternative to the charge of s319AA. It obliges that a driver who is notified by one of the methods above, either knew or ought reasonably to have known, s/he was being given a direction to stop. In most jurisdictions, it is thought that the requirement to stop and identify yourself to police, even if an offence has not been committed.
Section 319AA is similar to the offence of evading police (s 64A Road Safety Act) but more serious because of the added element of “dangerous” or “negligent” driving. That is why this charge is often referred to as ‘evading police dangerously’. See the discussion on dangerous driving to understand what amounts to dangerousness.
A person drives a motor vehicle negligently if s/he fails unjustifiably and to a gross degree to observe the standard of care which a reasonable person would observe.
To be considered a pursuit it is not necessary that police office be pursuing a motor vehicle at the same speed as the target vehicle. It is irrelevant that the police pursuit is suspended or terminated before the motor vehicle, which is subject to the pursuit, stops. Police will not continue a pursuit if the danger to others is too great, but that it not a defence to the charge.
Driving dangerously or negligently while being pursued by police when given a direction to stop is a very serious criminal offence. In the matter of Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) (Vic) v Simpson (2014) the judge observed that the charge of dangerous or negligent driving while pursued by police was an offence against the general public, the perilous conduct is not generally directed at any one potential victim it can harm any road user; safety for all must be upheld.
Dangerous driving is also often laid as an alternative to this charge along with section 64A, they are much lesser charges and exists under the Road Safety Act 1986 as opposed to the Crimes Act 1958. They are both summary offences vs indictable offences. Sometimes it will be in a clients interest to resolve the charges on the lesser alternative charges and avoid a gaol sentence and reduce licence loss, sometimes it will be in a clients interests to run the matter to hearing, what is appropriate for your case can only be determined following a detailed consultation with a lawyer.
What is the penalty?
The penalty for an offence against section 319AA
- is a maximum term of imprisonment of 3 years. Upon a finding of guilt, a Magistrate must also
- disqualify you from driving or obtaining a driving licence or permit for a minimum period of 12 months. This is a minimum, it is often the case depending on the level of seriousness, that a Magistrate will order a more extended period off the road.
This type of offence can lead to impoundment of your motor vehicle, both at the scene and again at court. On a second offence an order will be made to forfeit the motor vehicle.
Can you get a non-conviction, be aware the spent conviction legislation is now in force.
If you are facing this charge it is likely you are facing other alternatives in relation to the same conduct. It is often confusing understanding the difference. There are a number of defences to this charge. If you have been charged call our office today.