What is the charge of dangerous driving causing death?

There are many different types of driving offences, ranging in levels of seriousness. 

Dangerous driving causing death is one of the more serious driving offences. If you are found guilty of this offence, unless you can demonstrate to the court that you have substantial and compelling circumstances that are exceptional and rare and that justify not imposing a term of imprisonment, you will be imprisoned.

Legal advice from experienced criminal lawyers in Melbourne is crucial in a case where you have been arrested due to an allegation of dangerous driving causing death.

What is the charge?

In Victoria, section 319 of the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic) establishes the offence of dangerous driving causing death. This offence is committed where a person who, by driving a motor vehicle at a speed or in a manner that is dangerous to the public having regard to all the circumstances of the case, causes the death of another person. It follows that there are a broad range of circumstances where a person may be charged with this offence. In short, when there is a fatality on the road, the police will always consider whether or not a driver was driving dangerously and if they form the view that they were, that person will be charged with this offence.

Depending on the circumstances of the case, a person who is charged with dangerous driving causing death may also be charged with numerous other driving offences including: culpable driving, dangerous driving causing serious injury, negligent driving causing serious injury, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs and careless driving.

What is the penalty?

The maximum penalty for dangerous driving causing death is 10 years’ imprisonment.  

Pursuant to the Sentencing Act 1991 (Vic) dangerous driving causing death is also a category 2 offence. A category 2 offence is an offence for which a term of imprisonment must be imposed in all but a few rare circumstances. Avoiding imprisonment when convicted of this offence is therefore difficult.

Culpable Driving

When a person is charged with driving in a manner dangerous causing death they will often also be charged with culpable driving. 

Culpable driving is an offence which is established by section 318 of the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic). This offence is the most serious driving offence with which a driver can be charged when there is a fatality. 

A  person will be charged with culpable driving if the police form the view they were driving recklessly, negligently or were so affected by alcohol or drugs as to be incapable of having control of the motor vehicle. If found guilty of this offence the maximum penalty is 20 years imprisonment. The standard sentence for this offence is 8 years imprisonment.

Criminal lawyers

If you have been charged with dangerous driving causing death you need to hire a criminal lawyer as early as you possibly can. 

An experienced criminal lawyer will carefully consider all the evidence in your case, help you understand the court processes, provide you with advice, including whether or not you have a viable defence, the strengths and weaknesses of your defence and the range of penalties that you are facing. They will then get your instructions and do all they can to achieve the best possible result, having regard not only to your instructions but also the circumstances of your case.

Criminal lawyers at Stary Norton Halphen work on a wide range of cases involving driving offences, from low level driving offences, to the very serious. We appear in court for all driving cases and we do so regularly. It is because of our preparation and expertise that we regularly achieve excellent results for our clients.

It is vital in a case involving a fatality to have criminal lawyers in Melbourne who are well prepared, experienced and have expertise in criminal law to defend you. If you have been charged with dangerous driving causing death, culpable driving or both offences contact Stary Norton Halphen.

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