Reducing Dangerous Driving Causing Serious Injury to Careless Driving

This is a case study on reducing Dangerous Driving Causing Serious Injury to Careless Driving.

Following our client’s interview and the investigation, he was charged with Dangerous Driving Causing Serious Injury. At the time of the alleged offence, the client had no relevant criminal history and was 51 years old. There had been no subsequent offences by the time the charges were filed (some 18 months after the incident).

The client’s vehicle was later seized and many months later forensically examined. The investigation was conducted by the Manningham Crime Investigation Unit, and two of their experts provided statements (mechanical investigator and collision reconstructionist).

What is alleged to have occured?
In mid October 2016, a collision occurred between a public bus and our client’s tip truck. The prosecution alleged that the collision occurred as a result of our client entering an intersection against a red traffic control signal and consequently impacted the middle of the bus. A number of passengers received minor injuries and one passenger received serious injuries resulting in multiple surgeries.

After the accident, our client remained at the scene and assisted the police with their investigation. He was tested for drugs and alcohol in his system. No alcohol or illicit substances were found in his system and these were subsequently ruled out as contributing factors.

It was the opinion of the mechanical investigator that there was no mechanical fault, in particular on the brakes which would have been a contributing factor. Mechanical failure of the truck was indeed the central issue in the case. Our client maintained in his record of interview that he had attempted to bring his vehicle to a stop but his brakes were failing.

The client told the police that he did what he could to avoid a collision, but that it was unavoidable in the end and he did what he could to mitigate it. It was conceded by the prosecution that the impact was at low speed.

What happened at court?
We represented the client at the Ringwood Magistrates’ Court on charges of Dangerous Driving Causing Serious Injury and Negligently Causing Serious Injury. For this case, we succeeded in reducing the Dangerous Driving Causing Serious Injury charge to Careless Driving.

At the initial case conference, submissions were made to the prosecution which state that aspects of the expert report were questionable, particularly having regard to the delay in the undertaking of their forensic analysis. Other factors were argued to cast doubt on whether it could be said that our client’s driving – having regard to all the circumstances – was in fact dangerous.

The prosecution however relied upon the conclusions of their experts and were unwilling to withdraw the charge of Dangerous Driving Causing Serious Injury. Accordingly, the matter was set down for a contested hearing.

During the contest mention, discussions resumed and the prosecution (whilst cognisant of several factors that would potentially undermine the conclusions of their experts) remained unconvinced that their office should withdraw the offence. Accordingly and in consultation with our client, a strategy was formed to bring the case to an expedient end, without impacting upon our client’s ability to continue driving (through a mandatory disqualification of 6 months for dangerous driving), or putting his liberty in jeopardy (as Dangerous Driving Causing Serious Injury is a serious indictable offence that carries a maximum of 5 years imprisonment).

To resolve the case, our client instructed that he was prepared to offer a plea of guilty to Careless Driving. The prosecution were also willing to adopt a pragmatic approach and agreed to a Careless Driving charge. However, as Careless Driving is a summary offence and not indictable, authorisation from the Office of Public Prosecutions was required to lay the charge outside of the 12 month period (in this case the case commenced more than 12 months after the date of the incident). The authorisation was subsequently given and the case proceeded as a plea to a single charge of Careless Driving (a 12-penalty unit offence).

What was the result?
Successfully reducing the charge of Dangerous Driving Causing Serious Injury to Careless Driving was key to achieving an excellent outcome for this case. Following submissions which emphasised our client’s good character and his regret over the incident, the client was fined a modest amount. Importantly, he was not convicted for the offence nor was any order made against his driver’s license. This was very important as our client relied upon his license to continue his employment as a truck driver.

Elements of Careless Driving:
  • The accused drove a motor vehicle on a highway carelessly; or
  • The accused drove a vehicle, other than a motor vehicle, on a highway carelessly.
Related case studies
DISCLAIMER: This is a real case study of an actual case from our files. Details pertaining to the client have been changed to protect their privacy. The sentence imposed and the charge have not been altered. These case studies are published to demonstrate real outcomes and give an indication of possible tariffs in Court. We do not guarantee a similar case on these charges will get the same result. Please note that we post results at our discretion, therefore while many case studies are average results, others are notable for their exceptional outcomes. PUBLISHED 31/10/2019