Serious driving offences

Aggravating factors

Aggravating factors are those factors particular to the offence, the victim or the defendant which may warrant a higher penalty.

The Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935 contains specific maximum penalties for basic and aggravated offences [see s 5 for interpretation]. Factors which aggravate an offence committed whilst using a motor vehicle are:

  • for an offence of causing death or harm by dangerous driving: that the offence was committed whilst attempting to escape pursuit by police [see s 5AA(1a)(a)];
  • in relation to dangerous driving to avoid police pursuit: that the motor vehicle was stolen or subject to an illegal use [see s 5AA(1b)(a)];
  • for an offence of causing death or harm by dangerous driving: that at the time of the offence the offender was driving whilst disqualified [see s 5AA(1a)(b)];
  • for an offence of causing death or harm by dangerous driving: that the offence was committed as part of a prolonged, persistent and deliberate course of very bad driving or vessel operation [see s 5AA(1a)(c)];
  • for an offence of causing death or harm by dangerous driving: that the offender committed the offence while there was present in his or her blood a concentration of .08 grams or more of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood [see s 5AA(1a)(d)];
  • for an offence of causing death or harm by dangerous driving: that at the time of the offence, the offender was driving a vehicle (or operating a vessel) at excessive speed, or whilst under the influence of alcohol or prescribed drugs such that the offender was incapable of exercising effective control of the vehicle (or vessel) [see s 5AA(1a)(e)];
  • in relation to dangerous driving to avoid police pursuit: that the offender was driving whilst disqualified [see s.5AA(1b)(b)];
  • in relation to dangerous driving to avoid police pursuit: that the offender committed the offence while there was present in his or her blood a concentration of .08 grams or more of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood [see s.5AA(1b)(c)];
  • in relation to dangerous driving to avoid police pursuit: that at the time of the offence, the offender was driving a motor vehicle whilst under the influence of alcohol or prescribed drugs such that the offender was incapable of exercising effective control of the vehicle [see s 5AA(1b)(d)].

For further information in relation to aggravating factors see the Sentencing chapter.

Reckless and Dangerous Driving

It is an offence to drive a vehicle recklessly or at a speed or in a manner which is dangerous to any person. The maximum penalty is imprisonment for two years [see Road Traffic Act 1961 (SA) s 46(1); Criminal Law (Clamping, Impounding and Forfeiture of Vehicles) Act 2007; Criminal Law (Clamping, Impounding and Forfeiture of Vehicles) Regulations 2007 reg 4(b)].

A mandatory licence disqualification applies:

  • for a first offence, for a period not less than twelve months;
  • for a subsequent offence, for a period not less than three years [see Road Traffic Act 1961 (SA) s 46(3)].

In determining whether the offence is a first or subsequent offence, only a previous offence against section 46(1) for which the defendant has been convicted, and which was committed within the period of five years immediately preceding the commission of the offence under consideration, will be taken into account [see s 46(4)].

In considering whether an offence has been committed under this section, the Court must take into account a number of factors, including the nature, condition and use of the road on which the alleged offence occurred, the amount of traffic on the road at the time of the alleged offence, the amount of traffic reasonably expected to enter the road from other roads and places, and all other relevant circumstances [see s 46(2)].

Dangerous driving to escape police pursuit

It is an offence to drive a motor vehicle in a culpably negligent manner, recklessly, or at a speed or in a manner dangerous to any person intending to escape pursuit by police or cause police to engage in a pursuit [see Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935 (SA) s19AC(1)]. The maximum penalty for a basic offence is imprisonment for three years and mandatory licence disqualification for not less than two years. The maximum penalty for an aggravated offence is imprisonment for five years and mandatory licence disqualification for not less than two years [see Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935 (SA) ss 19AC(1) and 19AC(2)].

Using motor vehicle without consent

It is an offence to drive, use or interfere with a motor vehicle without first obtaining the consent of the owner of the vehicle [see Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935 s 86A]. For a first offence the maximum penalty is imprisonment for two years, for a subsequent offence imprisonment for not less than three months and not more than four years. There is also a mandatory licence disqualification for twelve months [see s 86A(2)].

Serious driving offences  :  Last Revised: Mon May 21st 2012
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