Offence provision

It is an offence against section 117(1) of the Road Transport Act to drive a motor vehicle negligently.

The seriousness of the offence and potential maximum penalty depend on whether the negligent driving harmed anyone.


What is negligent driving?

Negligent driving occurs when you drive a motor vehicle with less care than would be expected of a typical driver.

In considering whether negligent driving has been committed, a court will consider all circumstances of the offence including:

  • The condition of the road.
  • The amount of traffic.
  • Any hazards on the road (such as broken down vehicles, emergency services, or fallen loads).


What is negligent driving causing death or grievous bodily harm?

The offences of negligent driving causing death and negligent driving causing grievous bodily harm are more serious than the offence of negligent driving.

You may be charged with one of these offences if your negligent driving results in the death or grievous bodily harm of another person.

Grievous bodily harm (GBH) refers to any permanent or serious disfigurement and can include broken bones, burns or scarring.


Licence suspension

If you are charged with negligent driving causing death or GBH, the police can suspend and confiscate your licence within 48 hours of the charge or penalty notice being issued. The suspension will remain in place until the offence is heard by a court. If your licence is disqualified by the court, the magistrate will consider the licence suspension in deciding the disqualification period.

Both a licence suspension and disqualification prohibit you from driving for the specified period. While a licence suspension can be imposed by the RMS or NSW Police without a formal conviction for the offence, a licence disqualification is imposed by a court as part of the penalty for a formal conviction.


Penalties for negligent driving offences in NSW

For the standard offence of negligent driving, the maximum fine is $1,100. This fine applies to the first offence as well as subsequent offences.

The penalties applicable for more serious negligent driving offences are outlined below.


Negligent driving causing grievous bodily harm

PenaltyFirst offenceSubsequent offence
Maximum fine$2,200$3,300
Maximum term of imprisonment 9 months12 months
Minimum disqualification12 months2 years
Maximum disqualificationUnlimitedUnlimited
Automatic disqualification 3 years5 years


Negligent driving causing death

PenaltyFirst offenceSubsequent offence
Maximum fine$3,300$5,500
Maximum term of imprisonment 18 months 2 years
Minimum disqualification12 months2 years
Maximum disqualificationUnlimitedUnlimited
Automatic disqualification 3 years5 years


Consequences of a conviction

If you are convicted of any negligent driving offence, you will have this noted on your criminal record.

If you are convicted of negligent driving causing death or GBH you will also have your licence disqualified.  The automatic disqualification period will apply unless the court makes a specific order. The court can disqualify your licence for any length of time within the minimum and maximum periods listed above.

These consequences can be avoided if the court applies section 10 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999.


Frequently Asked Questions

How serious is the charge?

Negligent driving, where no harm is caused, is not a serious offence as the only penalty that can be imposed is a fine.

Negligent driving where grievous bodily harm or death is caused is a serious offence. You can be sentenced to imprisonment and your licence will be automatically disqualified.

How do I defend a charge of negligent driving?

There are several grounds on which we can defend a charge of negligent driving. Depending on the circumstances of your case, we can argue that:

  • Your driving was not negligent. We can emphasise the conditions and circumstances at the time of the offending, such as heavy traffic, hazards on the road, the presence of cyclists or emergency vehicles, and the weather or time of day, to argue that your driving was not negligent.
  • You were not the person driving the vehicle.
  • That your negligent driving did not cause the death or grievous bodily harm suffered by the victim.

What is ‘reckless or furious driving’ or ‘driving in a dangerous manner’?

These are separate offences which are also in breach of section 117 of the Road Transport Act. They carry the same maximum penalties as a charge of negligent driving occasioning GBH.

No harm needs to be caused to any victim to be charged with these offences – the only requirement is that your driving be considered furious, reckless, or dangerous.

How can we help?

We are experienced in successfully defending negligent driving charges, including negligent driving resulting in death and grievous bodily harm.

Book a free consultation or call us on 1300 668 484 for 24/7 legal advice.