It is an offence against s 319AA of the Crimes Act 1958 to drive a motor vehicle dangerously or negligently if a person has been given a direction to stop by police while being pursued.
319AA(1) A person must not drive a motor vehicle dangerously or negligently if he or she knows, or ought reasonably to know, that—
(a) he or she has been given a direction to stop the vehicle by a police officer; and
(b) a police officer is pursuing the vehicle.
It is also a hoon offence that on a first offence can lead to impoundment of your motor vehicle, both initially at the scene and then later again at court and on a second offence, forfeiture of your motor vehicle.
This is one of the more serious driving offences. The penalty for an offence against s 319AA is a maximum term of imprisonment of 3 years. A Magistrate must also disqualify you from driving or disqualify you from obtaining a drivers licence for a minimum period of 12 months. This is only the starting point, it is often the case depending on how your case is run, that a Magistrate will go far beyond the minimum time off the road.
Dangerous or Negligent
Section 319AA is similar to the offence of evading police (s 64A Road Safety Act). The added elements of “dangerous” or “negligent” driving to the charge elevate the offence to a criminal offence. Section 319AA(2) provides that “dangerous driving” means driving at speed or in a manner dangerous to the public. “Negligent driving” means failing unjustifiably and to a gross degree to observe the standard of care which other reasonable road users would observe.
If you have been charged with an offence against s 319AA for dangerous or negligent driving while being pursued by police, you should contact an expert traffic lawyer immediately. It is possible that your charge may be reduced to evading police if you can show that your driving was not dangerous or negligent. Under s 64A, a person must be disqualified from driving for a minimum of 6 months for a first offence, and a minimum of 12 months for a subsequent offence. Evade police only attracts a maximum of 6 months prison as opposed to 3 years. Dangerous and negligent driving is not straightforward; if you have been charged under this section you should discuss the matter with your solicitor. The difference could mean keeping you out of prison.
Direction to stop
The meaning of “direction to stop” is defined in s 64A(5) and applies to s 319AA. 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) giving 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 device of a motor vehicle driven by police in the course of his or her duties.
The offence must also occur while a police officer is pursuing the vehicle. Section 319AA(c) and (d) state that a pursuit need not be at a high speed, and can be suspended or terminated before the motor vehicle stops.
You may still be charged with the offence of dangerous or negligent driving while being pursued by police even if you remain within speed limits and obey traffic signals.
Talk to a traffic lawyer
If you have been charged under s 319AA of the Crimes Act, you should speak with a specialist traffic lawyer as soon as possible. There is a chance that you may be able to reduce your charge to an evade police charge, which carries more lenient penalties. Particularly if you have been charged with a s 319AA charge and s 64A charge, and any other traffic related offence, you should speak with a traffic lawyer to help mitigate the penalties you may be facing. Allow as much time as possible to prepare for your matter by contacting a solicitor immediately.