Traffic Law

Furious Driving

Furious driving is considered a serious traffic offence where upon conviction, lengthy disqualification periods and fines apply. In more serious cases, the Court will impose good behaviour bonds, community service orders and even imprisonment. Due to the severe penalties that can be imposed, it is important to seek legal advice from a traffic lawyer experienced in serious traffic offences. Our Traffic Lawyers Sydney and NSW have the knowledge and experience required to represent those charges with serious traffic offences.

The Law

Pursuant to section 117 of the Road Transport Act 2013, it is an offence to drive furiously. The provision also makes it an offence to drive in a manner dangerous, speed dangerous or recklessly and often, police will be vague in their description of the offence and rely on all offences.

Penalties

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

Penalties

First Offence

Second or Subsequent Major Offence

Maximum court imposed fine

$2,200

$3,300

Maximum gaol term

9 months

12 months

Automatic disqualification period

3 years

5 years

Minimum disqualification period

12 months

2 years

Maximum disqualification period

Unlimited

Unlimited


If someone is convicted of furious driving causing injury the maximum penalty is 2 years imprisonment. This, however, is a separate and distinct offence.

Commentary

Despite the police charging drivers with "drive furiously, recklessly, or in a speed/manner dangerous", it can sometimes be helpful to press the police to choose which specific type of driving they are relying on. It must be noted, however, that the definitions or concepts of furious driving and dangerous driving are very similar. Further, the offence provision and therefore the penalties are the same and if someone is pleading "guilty" to this offence, then it may not really matter, as the essential factual allegations being relied on by the police would not change, despite there sometimes being room to argue a lesser degree of moral culpability.

So what does it mean to "drive furiously?" Of course, given that this is a serious driving offence that can result in a term of imprisonment, it must be something more than driving whilst angry or even enraged. Furious driving has been found to be driving that endangers the life or limb of a passenger or any person who might be expected to be on the road.

Therefore, although the penalties for furious driving are the same as for reckless driving, it may be argued that the concept of recklessness is not as serious as that of driving furiously. Over time, however, the concepts of reckless, furious and dangerous driving have been blurred and the distinction between them eroded, and therefore, the types of offending the Courts have found them to encompass have been broadened and in most cases this means that little can often be gained by arguing the distinction between the different concepts.

However, much can be gained if one is able to negotiate with the prosecution to reduce the charge to negligent driving which, as a starting point, does not attract automatic periods of disqualification or, in a worst case scenario, a term of imprisonment.

Police often rely on circumstantial evidence or accounts given by witnesses when charging someone with furious driving and it is therefore possible to successfully defend such a charge, by arguing that the driving, although perhaps negligent, did not amount to being furious.

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

We are located in Sydney, Parramatta, Chatswood, Sutherland and Wollongong.

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