Traffic Law

Predatory Driving

Predatory driving is one of the most serious driving offences and is strictly speaking a criminal offence, which is legislated for in the Crimes Act, rather than the Road Transport legislation. Anyone charged with this offence is facing a strong prospect of a full time gaol sentence and therefore, it is imperative to obtain competent legal advice from an experienced traffic or criminal lawyer.

The Law

Pursuant to section 51A of the Crimes Act 1900, the driver of a vehicle is guilty of predatory driving if, while in pursuit of or travelling near another vehicle:

(a) engages in a course of conduct that causes or threatens an impact involving the other vehicle, and

(b) intends by that course of conduct to cause a person in the other vehicle actual bodily harm,


The penalties for predatory driving are set out in the below table:


First Offence

Second or Subsequent Major Offence

Maximum gaol term

5 years

5 years

Automatic disqualification period

3 years

5 years

Minimum disqualification period

12 months

2 years

Maximum disqualification period



Predatory driving is an offence that can be dealt with on indictment in the District Court or summarily in the Local Court. Matters such as predatory driving offences are usually dealt with "on indictment" where the prosecution forms a view that the jurisdictional limit of the Local Court is not sufficient to properly punish the offender.

The jurisdictional limit of, and therefore the maximum gaol term that can be imposed in the Local Court is 2 years. 


It is clear why predatory driving attracts much harsher penalties than menacing driving, when one considers what must be proved to make out the offence.

The police must prove that the conduct causes or threatens an impact involving another vehicle and further, that the purpose of such is to cause actual bodily harm to a person in the other vehicle.

An obvious and more serious example of this type of offence is where someone smashes into another vehicle to drive it off the road, with the intention of causing some injury to the driver of that vehicle and succeeds in doing so. Of course, actual injury and actual impact are not required for the commission of the offence; however, where there is not impact and/or injury, the circumstances would be considered less serious and a more lenient punishment will likely be imposed.

Predatory driving is not a commonly charged offence, however, even when dealt with in the Local Court, the statistics show that about half of the matters result in a term of full time imprisonment.


Predatory driving offences are not always easy to prove. The prosecution needs to prove that there is a specific intent to cause actual bodily harm. Therefore, even where there is an impact and someone is injured as a result, the case will succeed or fail on whether the prosecution can prove the intention of the alleged offending driver. of course, no harm needs actually be caused and an impact does not need to occur. There may be other factors about the person's manner of driving and perhaps action and/or words that are used that provide enough evidence for the prosecution to proceed with the charge.

Due to the difficulty in sometimes proving a charge of predatory driving, there is often opportunity to successfully defend the charge or, be able to negotiate with the prosecution for the laying of less serious offences, such as menacing driving or some form of dangerous driving.

Further, the harm that is alleged the driver intended to cause is actual bodily harm which, in the same way as it pertains to the offence of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, must be harm that is "more than merely transient or trifling".

Due to the seriousness of these types of charges, it is very important to obtain legal advice from someone experienced in dealing with serious traffic offences. Our lawyers have a wealth of knowledge and expertise in these types of matters. 

If you have been charged with predatory driving and require assistance, our experts at Prime Lawyers - Traffic Law Division can help. Contact us to make an appointment with a traffic lawyer at your nearest Prime Lawyers office.

We have offices at  Sydney, Parramatta, Chatswood, Sutherland and Wollongong.

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