Traffic Law

Dangerous Driving

When it comes to Dangerous Driving NSW law dictates that severe penalties are to apply. Dangerous Driving offences are some of the more serious traffic offences that can be committed in NSW. It is important to properly consider all the circumstances of the factual allegations before entering a plea of guilty to these types of offences, due to the severity of punishment upon conviction.

The Law

Pursuant to section 117 of the Road Transport Act 2013, it is an offence to drive a motor vehicle on a road in a manner that is dangerous to the public.


The below table sets out the available penalties upon conviction for dangerous driving (NSW):


First Offence

Second or Subsequent Major Offence

Maximum court imposed fine



Maximum gaol term

9 months

12 months

Automatic disqualification period

3 years

5 years

Minimum disqualification period

12 months

2 years

Maximum disqualification period



What is "in a manner dangerous to the public"?

In the case of McBride the Court commented on what "dangerous to the public" involves: 

"The section speaks of a speed or manner which is dangerous to the public. This imports a quality in the speed or manner of driving which either intrinsically in all the circumstances, or because of the particular circumstances surrounding the driving, is in a real sense potentially dangerous to a human being or human beings who as a member or as members of the public may be upon or in the vicinity of the roadway on which the driving is taking place."

This accords with the legislative requirement to consider the following matters when determining whether the offence has been committed:

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

Whether or not someone is deemed to have driven a motor vehicle in a dangerous manner is not always immediately apparent. As noted above, the particular set of circumstances in each case must be considered. Sometimes, it can be successfully argued that the type of driving alleged does not amount to dangerous driving but instead, the much less serious form of "negligent" driving. Having a dangerous driving charge "downgraded" to negligent driving substantially reduces the severity of the likely penalties to be imposed. 

When the driver is alleged to have been involved in an accident, whether the course of conduct is considered dangerous rather than negligent can be a fine line. It has been determined in some cases that momentary inadvertence can amount to dangerous driving, depending on the surrounding circumstances.

Our lawyers have experience defending dangerous driving charges, having them downgraded to negligent driving and, where these two options are not available, we are experienced in representing clients pleading guilty to the charge, by attending Court and presenting a plea in mitigation of sentence with a view to reducing the likely penalties.

If you have been charged with a dangerous driving NSW traffic offence, 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 in Sydney, Parramatta, Chatswood, Sutherland and Wollongong.    

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