Careless driving is one of the most common traffic offences in Victoria. Individuals are often charged with careless driving when they have been involved in an accident in which they have failed to drive with a degree of care that a reasonable driver would exercise in the circumstances. A careless driving charge is often charged with other traffic offences.
Section 65 of the Road Safety Act 1986 states that:
“A person who drives a motor vehicle on a highway carelessly is guilty of an offence and liable for a first offence to a penalty of not more than 12 penalty units and for a subsequent offence to a penalty of not more than 25 penalty units”
The elements of Careless Driving
In order for an individual to be found guilty of Careless Driving in Victoria, the following elements of the offence must be proven by the Prosecution, beyond reasonable doubt:
- The offender was driving a motor vehicle; and
- The offender failed to exercise the degree of care and attention that a reasonable and prudent driver would exercise in the circumstances.
Actions which may lead to a Careless Driving charge
Careless Driving is determined on an objective standard, in other words, there are no specifically defined actions which constitute Careless Driving. As outlined above, actions where the driver failed to exercise the degree of care and attention that a reasonable and prudent driver would exercise in the circumstances is the test applied.
Examples of circumstances where the driver has not exercised the degree of care and attention required include:
- Causing a motor vehicle accident as a result of using a mobile phone;
- Having a dirty windscreen which has caused a lack of visibility;
- Failing to give way;
- Losing traction of your motor vehicle; and
- Using excessive speed in wet conditions.
Defences to Careless Driving
Careless Driving may have been caused by circumstances out of the control of the driver, such as an unforeseen vehicle malfunction or another vehicle had entered the lane without warning causing the driver to swerve.
If you have been charged with Careless Driving and there were unforeseen variables which led to the charge, we recommend calling our office to speak with a lawyer so that they can review your case.
There is no mandatory loss of licence attached to pleading guilty to the charge of Careless Driving. The Court, however, has discretion in suspending the driver’s licence. A suspension of a driver’s licence occurs in the more serious cases, such as when another person was injured as a result of the careless driving. The Court may be more inclined to suspend one’s driver’s licence when they have a poor traffic record.
Pleading guilty to Careless Driving will incur three demerit points.
The most common sentences for individuals who pleaded guilty to Careless Driving between 1 July 2018 to 30 June 2021 are:
- Fine – 60.6%
- Adjourned Undertaking – 20.5%
- Imprisonment – 9.9%
- Community Correction Order – 8.6%
- Other – 0.4%