This article is for general information only and should not be relied on for specific legal advice. The author will not be held responsible for any action that a person takes as a result of interpretation of the contents of this article. It is important to seek specific advice from a qualified and experienced lawyer for any legal problem.
What is Dangerous Operation of a Motor Vehicle?
The charge of ‘Dangerous Operation of a Motor Vehicle’ in QLD is commonly referred to by lawyers and Police as “dangerous driving” or “dangerous op.” It is one of the most serious driving offences in Queensland. Unlike most other driving and traffic-related offences in Queensland that appear under the Transport Operations Act, this offence appears under the Criminal Code Qld. What behaviour amounts to “dangerous” driving can be difficult to define and is not technically defined under the legislation. The Criminal Code explains that this offence includes operating a vehicle at a speed or manner that is dangerous to the public.
The word “dangerous” is given its ordinary meaning and the nature of what is “dangerous” is assessed objectively considering what the community would expect from a cautious and competent driver. Often, when charging defendants with this offence, police will consider and rely on the observations of other road users to assess the dangerous actions of the defendant on the road including their speed and vehicle movement. In Queensland, this offence can be aggravated by the defendant for example if they are affected by intoxicating substances or taking part in a race at the time of the dangerous operation of their vehicle.
Penalties of Dangerous Operation of a Motor Vehicle
If a person is convicted of Dangerous Operation of a Motor Vehicle in QLD, then the court could impose one of the following penalties:
- Jail (suspended, parole, or actual time);
- Intensive Corrections Order;
- Community Service Order;
The actual penalty will depend on the circumstances of the matter including the seriousness of the offence and the individual circumstances and background of the Defendant.
Possible Defences to a Dangerous Operation of a Motor Vehicle Charge
There are several defences available to dangerous driving charges. Not every defence is available to every charge. You will need to seek specific legal advice to see if you have a defence available to you for this charge. Some of the common defences available in criminal charges are;
- Mistake of Fact;
- Public Safety;
- Self Defence or defence of another person;
Which Court will your Dangerous Operation of a Motor Vehicle matter be heard in?
Simpliciter Offence – The charge of Dangerous Operation of a Motor Vehicle in QLD will ordinarily be heard in the Magistrates Court. The charge will be heard and determined by a Magistrate alone whether you plead guilty or not guilty. There is no jury in the Magistrates Court. The Defendant may however elect to have the matter heard in the District Court.
Aggravated Offence – If there is a circumstance of aggravation attached to the charge (see Element 6 above) then the charge is too serious to be dealt with by a Magistrate and must proceed to the District Court. In that event, a committal hearing will be conducted in the Magistrates Court and the matter will proceed to the District Court. If the Defendant pleads guilty to the charge then the sentence will be conducted by a District Court Judge. If the Defendant pleads not guilty then the trial will be heard before a Judge and Jury.
You may be able to reduce your sentence by completing an online traffic safety course like the Rate Program.