Have you been charged with Dangerous Driving Causing Death?
The offence of dangerous driving causing death arises when a person driving a motor vehicle at speed, or in a manner that is dangerous to the public, causes the death of another person. The relevant section is found at 319 of the Crimes Act 1958
In 2004 the parliament introduced the new charges of ‘dangerous driving causing death’ and ‘dangerous driving causing serious injury‘. The only distinction between the two offences is the degree of injury inflicted and the maximum term of imprisonment that a court may impose for each offence.
These charges were introduced to bridge the void between the charges of Culpable Driving Causing Death and Dangerous Driving, as prior to 2004, when an accused person was found not guilty of culpable driving, the only alternative charge was dangerous driving simpliciter, which usually resulted in a fine.
What are the elements of the offence of dangerous driving causing death?
- That you were driving a motor vehicle;
- That you drove the motor vehicle dangerously; and
- That the dangerous driving caused the death.
If the prosecution establishes the above then you will be found guilty of the charge.
What is the maximum penalty for Dangerous Driving Causing Death s319(1)
- The maximum penalty if found guilty of dangerous driving causing death pursuant to section 319(1) of the Crimes Act, is ten years imprisonment, this is half the tariff for Culpable driving causing death which has a maximum penalty of 20 years.
- Per s5(2H) of the Sentencing Act, dangerous driving causing death is a category 2 offence which means that on a finding of guilt the court must impose a gaol sentence unless certain special circumstances exist.
Dangerous driving causing death, unlike the charge of culpable driving, is not a standard sentence offence.
The Sentencing Advisory Council statistics reveal that the median term of imprisonment for being found guilty of dangerous driving causing death is two and a half years. To view the statistics on sentencing outcomes for dangerous driving causing death, follow the link.
The median term of imprisonment for dangerous driving causing death might be two years, but Dribbin & Brown Criminal Lawyers have conducted cases, where we have kept our clients out gaol or had only months of gaol imposed, as opposed to years.
Minimum Licence loss:
- There is a mandatory minimum licence disqualification period of 18 months per section 89(2)(a) of the Sentencing Act 1991. This means that a judge will have to disqualify your drivers licence for a minimum period of 18 months, please note this is the minimum period, it would not be unusual for a member of the judiciary to exceed this minimum period.
Where will my case be heard?
The charge is usually heard in the County Court of Victoria but sometimes will be heard in the Supreme Court if the charge is also accompanied with a culpable driving charge.
Questions to consider in relation to dangerous driving causing death
- Were you the driver?
- Was the vehicle you were driving considered a motor vehicle as per the Act?
- Was your driving dangerous? This question can only be answered by carefully considering the materials and your instructions, looking at factors like the condition of the road, the speed the vehicle was travelling, and the physical condition of the driver.
- Did the driving cause the death or was there an intervening act?
- It is irrelevant whether you intended to cause the death or not or even foresaw that it was a possibility (unlike culpable driving). The question is, did you voluntarily drive the motor vehicle in the manner alleged by the police and was that driving dangerous?
Crucial to these cases and all jury trials is extensive preparation.
It is important that you come to a firm accredited by the Law Institute of Victoria as Criminal Law Specialists, who have handled similar cases in the past, and who cares about getting you the best outcome, not the most expensive one.
Dribbin & Brown Criminal Lawyers have office locations in the Melbourne CBD, Dandenong, Ringwood, Moorabbin, Frankston, Werribee, Geelong and Ballarat. Our legal team have considerable experience running dangerous driving causing death jury trials and can assist you if you are facing Court.
Make an appointment with Dribbin & Brown Criminal Lawyers today.