The charge of ‘Dangerous Operation of a Motor Vehicle,’ is commonly referred to by lawyers and Police as “dangerous driving” or “dangerous op.” It is one of the most serious driving offences in Queensland. Unlike most other driving and traffic related offences in Queensland that appear under the Transport Operations Act, this offence appears under the Criminal Code Qld. What behaviour amounts to “dangerous” driving can be difficult to define and is not technically defined under the legislation. The Criminal Code explains that this offence includes operating a vehicle at a speed or manner that is dangerous to the public.
The word “dangerous” is given its ordinary meaning and the nature of what is “dangerous” is assessed objectively considering what the community would expect from a cautious and competent driver. Often, when charging defendants with this offence, police will consider and rely on the observations of other road users to assess the dangerous actions of the defendant on the road including their speed and vehicle movement. In Queensland, this offence can be aggravated by the defendant for example if they are affected by intoxicating substances or taking part in a race at the time of the dangerous operation of their vehicle.
(1) A person who operates, or in any way interferes with the operation of, a vehicle dangerously in any place commits a misdemeanour.
(2) If the offender—
(a) at the time of committing the offence is adversely affected by an intoxicating substance; or
(b) at the time of committing the offence is excessively speeding or taking part in an unlawful race or unlawful speed trial; or
(c) has been previously convicted either upon indictment or summarily of an offence against this section;
the person commits a crime.
“operates, or in any way interferes with the operation of, a vehicle dangerously” means operate, or in any way interfere with the operation of, a vehicle at a speed or in a way that is dangerous to the public, having regard to all the circumstances, including—
(a) the nature, condition and use of the place; and
(b) the nature and condition of the vehicle; and
(c) the number of persons, vehicles or other objects that are, or might reasonably be expected to be, in the place; and
(d) the concentration of alcohol in the operator’s blood or breath; and
(e) the presence of any other substance in the operator’s body.
It is the duty of the prosecutor to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the Defendant has committed a hoon offence. Every charge has a number of elements that the Prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt. For the charge of Dangerous Driving or Hooning the Prosecution must prove;
Taking part in a Race; and / or and / or
Previously Convicted of the Same Offence
The maximum penalty for a dangerous operation of a motor vehicle offence is between three years imprisonment to five years imprisonment.
In Queensland, if a person is convicted of Dangerous Operation of a Motor Vehicle, then the court could impose one of the following penalties:
The actual penalty will depend on the circumstances of the matter including the seriousness of the traffic offence and the individual circumstances and background of the Defendant.
There are a number of defences available to a dangerous driving charge but not every defence is available to every charge. You will need to seek specific legal advice to see if you have a defence available to you for a hooning charge. Some of the common defences available in criminal charges are;
The charge Dangerous Operation of a Motor Vehicle will ordinarily be heard in the Magistrates Court in Queensland. The charge will be heard and determined by a Magistrate alone whether you plead guilty or not guilty. There is no jury in the Magistrates Court. The Defendant may however elect to have the matter heard in the District Court.
If there is a circumstance of aggravation attached to the charge (see Element 6 above) then the charge is too serious to be dealt with by a Magistrate and must proceed to the District Court. In that event a committal hearing will be conducted in the Magistrates Court and the matter will proceed to the District Court. If the Defendant pleads guilty to the charge then the sentence will be conducted by a District Court Judge. If the Defendant pleads not guilty then the trial will be heard before a Judge and Jury.
You have the right to remain silent. You DO have to provide police with your name, date of birth and contact details. You should NOT answer any questions, make any statement or participate in any interview with the police. You should be polite to the officer but insist that you want to talk to your lawyer. You have the right to phone a friend, relative or lawyer.
If you are charged traffic offence, it is very important that you seek immediate legal advice. Our team at Brooke Winter Solicitors can give you over the phone advice. We have a solid reputation as expert dangerous driving lawyers and can represent you in court.
Call us on 1300 066 669 if you have any questions. We can assist you no matter where you are located and can appear in every court.
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