Unlike other States, Queensland legislation provides for two different categories of offences for individuals involved in these types of incidents. Driving without due care and attention (commonly referred to as careless driving) is classified as a traffic offence, whereas dangerous operation of a motor vehicle (also referred to as dangerous driving) is categorised as a criminal offence, and is contained within the Queensland Criminal Code.
The distinction between what constitutes careless driving and what constitutes dangerous operation of a vehicle is often blurred. Often, the level of charge preferred against someone often comes down to how the particular officer from the Queensland Police Service charges you. The consequences that can flow can be significant and long lasting.
Offences of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle can also involve circumstances of aggravation, such as intoxication, excessive speed and/or unlawful racing. Circumstances of aggravation increase the maximum penalty an individual may be facing in respect of the charge.
No matter what level of charge is preferred against you, it is important that proper representation is obtained at the earliest opportunity to ensure that your rights are being protected. Police have the power to amend a charge against an individual (for example, police can upgrade a charge from careless driving to dangerous operation of a vehicle if they feel it is more appropriate), and it is important to ensure considered legal representation is obtained from the outset. There are a number of defences available for this type of matter, and it is important you obtain proper representation to protect your own interests.