Have you been charged with careless driving?
Careless driving is a charge that is a common driving charge in Victoria. Dribbin & Brown Criminal Lawyers have represented thousands of clients charged with careless driving. Whilst not being the most serious charge clients often engage our services to ensure that they retain their driver’s licence when facing a charge of careless driving.
What is careless driving?
Careless driving is where a driver has failed to exercise the degree of care and attention that a reasonable and prudent driver would exercise in the circumstances. The test is determined on an objective standard and usually decided by a magistrate or judicial registrar sitting in the Magistrates Court.
Examples of careless driving include crashing your vehicle whilst looking at your phone or driving up the back of someone because you hadn’t left enough space between you and the vehicle in front.
It is important to remember that just because you are involved in an accident, does not mean that you have driven carelessly. Police often misunderstand this fact. You might have had an accident because your car suffered from some form of mechanical failure, or because a kangaroo jumped in front of your car without warning.
At the end of the day it is important to remember that police need to prove carelessness beyond a reasonable doubt.
Also be aware that careless driving is an alternative to dangerous driving. Even when careless driving is not listed as a charge, if dangerous driving has been laid, it is open to a magistrate to find a defendant guilty in relation to careless driving whilst finding the same defendant not guilty in relation to dangerous driving.
If you have been charged with careless driving and you value your driver’s licence, you should call our office.
The penalty for careless driving:
- First time offenders face a maximum fine of 12 penalty units
- Second and subsequent offenders face a maximum of 25 penalty units.
It should be noted that there is no mandatory minimum period off the road that must be imposed by a magistrate in relation to the charge of careless driving. That said it is certainly open for a magistrate to further interfere with a defendant’s driver’s licence per section 28 of the Road Safety Act 1986.
Even if there is no interference with your driver’s licence, on a plea of guilty VicRoads will accrue 3 demerit points against your licence. There is nothing that anybody can do about this upon entering a plea of guilty.
If a magistrate decides to suspend your driver’s licence, it can be as long as a magistrate sees fit, there is no limit.
What to do next if you have been charged with careless driving:
Careless driving is not a charge you can go to gaol for, but if your licence is important to you then our advice is that you should get legal advice and be represented at court. Many things can go wrong in relation to this charge.
- You could be convicted which means you will have a permanent record for careless driving, see here for more on conviction vs non conviction and how to get a spend conviction.
- It may be the case you are eligible for diversion, there are tactical advantages to this approach.
Without an experienced traffic solicitor advocating on your behalf you are playing Russian roulette with your court outcome, sure you could get lucky but why take a chance where your licence is concerned.
(1) A person who drives a motor vehicle on a highway carelessly is guilty of an offence and liable for a first offence to a penalty of not more than 12 penalty units and for a subsequent offence to a penalty of not more than 25 penalty units.
(2) A person must not drive a vehicle, other than a motor vehicle, on a highway carelessly.
Penalty: For a first offence, 6 penalty units;
For a subsequent offence, 12 penalty units.
(3) In this section—
“vehicle” does not include—
(a) a non-motorised wheel-chair; or
(b) a motorised wheel-chair that is not capable of a speed of more than 10 kilometres per hour.
Vehicle is defined at section 3 of the Road Safety Act 1986 as follows;
“vehicle” means a conveyance that is designed to be propelled or drawn by any means, whether or not capable of being so propelled or drawn, and includes bicycle or other pedal-powered vehicle, trailer, tram-car and air-cushion vehicle but does not include railway locomotive or railway rolling stock;