Criminal Offences

Negligent Driving

Negligent driving is an offence under section 117 of the Road Transport Act 2013. This Act states that:

  1. A person must not drive a motor vehicle on a road negligently.

Negligent driving is characterised as the failure to operate a motor vehicle in a manner that a prudent and reasonable operator would have done, in the same circumstance. In fact, circumstances such as the weather, road and traffic conditions can sometimes have a great impact on drivers, and therefore the Court considers these circumstances before determining whether a conviction is relevant. Rather, the law is concerned with negligent driving that has potential for a driver to cause harm to others. Therefore, intent of the driver is irrelevant in such cases and any negligent driving is therefore liable to punishment before the Court.

There are three main charges in relation to negligent driving. These include:

  1. Negligent driving that does not occasion death or grievous bodily harm (GBH);
  2. Negligent driving that occasions GBH; and
  3. Negligent driving that occasions death.

Each of these offences vary in severity and are therefore punishable accordingly.

At Benjamin Leonardo – The Defenders, we possess extensive experience in defending traffic related offences. In fact, our team is heavily involved in the Traffic Offenders Intervention Program and is also proud to hold a 90% success rate for the cases we have represented.

As some of the best traffic lawyers in Sydney, contact our team now to schedule a consultation for more information in relation to negligent driving.


As there are many charges associated with negligent driving, there are also a variety of penalties. Individuals who are found guilty of negligent driving that does not occasion death or cause grievous bodily harm, may find themselves liable to punishment of 10 penalty points as outlined in section 117 of the Road Transport Act. This means the offender may be required to pay a maximum fine of $1,100.

Meanwhile, offenders who have been charged with negligent driving which as resulted in grievous bodily harm will be liable to 20 penalty units, equating to a $2,200 fine and/ or imprisonment for 9 months If it is a first time offence. Alternatively, if the offence has been committed subsequently, the offender will be liable to harsher punishment. In this instance, the maximum punishment imposed by the Court is 30 penalty points, equating to a $3,300 fine, or imprisonment for 12 months or a combination of the both.

Furthermore, negligent driving occasioning death is the most serious of the offences. As a result, the Court may enforce the maximum penalty of 30 penalty units which equates to a $3,300 fine. This penalty can be in addition to, or an alternative of imprisonment for 18 months and is only imposed if this incident is a first offence. If the offence has been committed subsequently, the severity of the punishment will increase accordingly, whereby an individual will be liable to 50 penalty units equating to a $5,500 fine and/or imprisonment for 2 years.

However, with the help of our traffic infringement lawyers, these penalties can be significantly reduced. Depending on personal circumstances, criminal history and the nature surrounding the event, we may be able to convince the Court to deal with the matter by means of a section 10 dismissal. This means that the Court does not record a criminal conviction, and penalties are avoided altogether. The Court may however, impose various conditions on an individual and if these conditions are breached, the privilege may be revoked. If a section 10 dismissal is not possible for your specific matter, we may also be able to greatly reduce the sentence imposed which is much more favourable than the maximum penalty.

For the best chance of receiving a section 10 dismissal, it is advised to seek legal representation from our experienced traffic infringement lawyers at Benjamin Leonardo – The Defenders.


In order to be found guilty of charges relating to negligent driving, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you did commit the crime as per section 117 of the Road Transport Act 2013.

If the above claims can be established and proven and you wish to plead guilty to the allegations made against you, the case will proceed to sentencing in which one of the above penalties will be enforced. However, pleading guilty is also seen in a favourable manner by the judiciary system. Individuals who do so often show remorse for their actions, in which the Court will often impose less serious penalties in comparison to being found guilty otherwise. Individuals who do so may only be subject to discounted fines, reduced terms of imprisonment or even be dealt with by a section 10 dismissal, all of which are more successful compared to the maximum penalty.

At Benjamin Leonardo – The Defenders, we are some of the best traffic lawyers in Sydney, with extensive experience in representing such cases and lecturing at the Traffic Offenders Intervention Program.

If you or someone you know is facing charges of negligent driving, please do not hesitate to schedule a consultation with our expert traffic infringement lawyers who can effectively assess your case and accurately advise you on the penalties that you may face.


If you choose to plead not guilty in relation to charges of negligent driving, the Police will need prove that you did commit the crime as per section 117 of the Road Transport Act 2013. If they are successful in proving these claims, you may be convicted and therefore the above penalties could be imposed.

For your best chance to avoid potentially significant penalties, it is advised to seek legal representation from expert criminal defence lawyers. Our criminal lawyers will then disprove the claims against you by using a relevant defence strategy. If we are successful, the Court may completely dismiss the charges in which you will no longer be facing the penalties stipulated by the Road Transport Act. In other instances, our defence strategies may only provide a partial defence in which you will be found not guilty for the specific charge made against you, although may be liable to an alternative charge. Despite this, you will likely face has less severe penalties as opposed to the maximum sentence for the original charge, which is therefore a successful outcome.


There are many possible defences that our traffic infringement lawyers may use on an individual’s behalf in relation to the offence of negligent driving. These defences include:

Duress: Encompasses the use of unlawful coercion to persuade a person to partake in an activity they would not usually participate in. This coercion can take form of harmful threats such as death or grievous bodily harm in which the accused believes that if they do not participate in the activity, they can be at risk.

Necessity: Involves circumstances in which the accused debates that their actions are acceptable and justifiable as they were in imminent danger by either human or natural forces. To prove that acts were a form of necessity, it must be established that the activity was only undertaken in order to avoid particular consequences that are deemed as “irreparable evil”, the individual must holistically believe that they were in a situation of “imminent peril” and that the individual believed they had no other alternatives to avoid the impending threat.

Self-Defence: Comprises of situations in which actions were taken to defend confrontations and harm by and unjust aggressor. Self defence occurs in circumstances in which the accused aims to protect property, themselves or another person from harm by the aggressor.

Other: Section 117.3 of the Roads Transport Act states that:

In considering whether an offence has been committed under this section, the Court is to have regard to all the circumstances of the case, including the following:

  1. The nature, condition and use of the road on which the offence is alleged to have been committed,
  2. The amount of traffic that actually is at the time, or which might reasonably be expected to be, on the road,
  3. Any obstructions or hazards on the road (including, for example, broken down or crashed vehicles, fallen loads and accident or emergency scenes).

If any of the above circumstances can be established, the Court may determine that the driver is not actually criminally liable for the offence.


With numerous award wins and a 90% case success rate, Benjamin Leonardo – The Defenders are some of Sydney’s best traffic lawyers. Our team has extensive experience in representing clients throughout Local, District and Supreme Courts in NSW.

For the offence of negligent driving, the matter may be heard at a Local Court. If the offence is more series or an election has been made by yourself or the Prosecution team. For more serious offences, the matter may be dealt with at the District Court.