Traffic Law

Reckless Driving

Reckless 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.

The Law

Pursuant to section 117 of the Road Transport Act 2013, it is an offence to drive recklessly. This provision also makes it an offence to drive furiously, at a dangerous speed or to drive in a manner dangerous to the public.


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


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




As has been noted in our furious driving section, the police often charge drivers with "driving in a manner reckless/furious or dangerous to the public" when relying on circumstances that may amount to an allegation of reckless or dangerous driving. The approach is generally that the police do not have to nominate which specific type of driving they are relying on, but simply, that the type of driving falls somewhere within section 117 of the Road Transport Act.

It can, however, be argued that "reckless driving" has a slightly lower moral culpability than dangerous driving, although it is generally accepted that it is unlikely to make much of a difference to the end result, particularity where someone is pleading guilty to the charge alleged.

It is still important to consider what is meant by the term "reckless". Some take the approach that it simply means a higher degree of negligence, however, this is wrong. For a driver to be negligent, it is enough that they have not exercised the degree of care that would be expected of the ordinary, prudent driver. For a driver to be reckless, it would need to be shown that they knowingly disregarded their duties as a driver, posing a risk to others, and not caring whether or not their actions do in fact pose a risk to others.

For that reason, the available penalties for a reckless driving offence are much more severe than the penalties for negligent driving. 

If charged with a reckless driving offence, it is important to obtain legal advice from someone who has a proper understanding of the differences between negligent driving and reckless driving, because it could well mean the difference between a fine and gaol time. Our team of traffic lawyers will be able to advise you whether police may have unfairly formed a view that you were reckless and have charged you with the more serious version of this type of driving offence.

If you have been charged with reckless 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 have offices in Sydney, Parramatta, Chatswood, Sutherland and Wollongong.

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