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Reckless Driving Charge In NSW


The offence of reckless driving in NSW carries heavy fines and penalties. Under section 117 of the Road Transport Act, it is considered an offence to operate a motor vehicle in a furious, reckless, or dangerous manner that poses a threat to the public. The offence of driving dangerously extends beyond just speeding and encompasses driving in a manner that presents an actual or potential danger to others, even if no injuries or fatalities occur.


Reckless driving is characterised as operating a vehicle in a manner that poses a genuine danger of causing physical harm to individuals using the road or causing significant damage to property beyond minor parking mishaps, as stated in the case of R v Lawrence [1982] AC 510.


Examples of reckless driving could involve:


  • Engaging in high-speed overtaking near a blind hill.
  • Veering across the center of the road when navigating a corner.
  • Performing a burnout in the midst of a congested intersection.

What the Police Must Prove Against You


In order to secure a conviction for Reckless Driving, the prosecution needs to establish, with a high degree of certainty, the following elements:


  1. You operated a motor vehicle.
  2. You operated the motor vehicle on a public road.
  3. Your operation of the motor vehicle exhibited reckless behaviour.

Can You Be Charged With Reckless Driving From a Video?

Video evidence can be a valuable tool in establishing reckless driving charges in NSW. It can capture the actions and behaviours of the driver, providing a visual record of their conduct on the road. The video footage can help demonstrate dangerous manoeuvres, excessive speeding, erratic lane changes, overtaking in an unsafe manner, or any other reckless actions.


However, the admissibility and weight given to video evidence in NSW courts will depend on several factors. The authenticity, reliability, and accuracy of the video will be scrutinised during a defended hearing in the Local Court. The court will consider whether the video has been tampered with, edited, or manipulated in any way that could affect its accuracy or the portrayal of the events.


In NSW, video evidence must meet certain requirements to be admissible in court. These requirements include ensuring that the video is relevant to the case, identifying the source of the video, and establishing a proper chain of custody to maintain its integrity. It is crucial to establish that the video is a fair and accurate representation of the events as they occurred.


Additionally, it is important to note that video evidence may not always provide a complete picture of the circumstances surrounding a reckless driving incident. Factors such as weather conditions, the presence of other vehicles or pedestrians, and the driver’s behaviour leading up to the recorded segment may not be captured by the video. Other evidence or witness statements may be necessary to provide a comprehensive understanding of the situation.

The specific penalties for a reckless driving charge can be influenced by factors such as the nature and extent of the dangerous driving behaviour, the presence of aggravating factors (such as excessive speeding or alcohol/drug impairment), prior traffic offences, if the reckless driving was dangerous to the public, traffic on the road and any resulting harm or damage caused.




The court has the authority to impose fines as a penalty for reckless driving. The amount of the fine will depend on the severity of the offence and can vary significantly. Reckless driving fines can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars.


The highest fine that can be imposed by the court is:


  • $2200 for a first offense
  • $3300 for a second or subsequent offence

Demerit Points


Reckless driving convictions can result in the imposition of demerit points on the driver’s record. The number of demerit points assigned depends on the offence. Accumulating a certain number of demerit points within a specific period can lead to license suspension or even cancellation.


License Suspension or Disqualification


The court may decide to suspend or disqualify the driver’s license for a specific period, depending on the seriousness of the offence. License suspension means the driver is temporarily unable to drive, while license disqualification involves a longer-term prohibition from driving. The duration of the suspension or disqualification can vary based on the circumstances of the case.


The minimum period of disqualification is:


  • 12 months for a first offence
  • 2 years for a second or subsequent offence

The maximum period of disqualification is:


  • Unlimited for a first offence
  • Unlimited for a second or subsequent offence

Disqualification in the absence of a specific court order. The period of disqualification without a specific court order is:


  • 3 years for a first offence
  • 5 years for a second or subsequent offence



In extreme cases of reckless driving that result in significant harm, injury, or death, imprisonment may be a potential penalty. The court has the discretion to impose a custodial sentence depending on the severity of the offence and any aggravating factors present. The length of the imprisonment term will be determined by the court.


The maximum duration of imprisonment is:


  • 9 months for a first offence
  • 12 months for a second or subsequent offence

Going To Court?

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Legal Advice

It’s important to recognise that penalties for reckless driving can be subject to judicial discretion, meaning that the court takes into account the specific circumstances of each case when determining the appropriate punishment. Repeat offences, high speeds, disregard for traffic laws, and endangerment of lives are likely to result in more severe penalties.


If you have been charged with reckless driving a motor vehicle by a NSW police officer, you should immediately contact a traffic lawyer in Sydney. Our experienced criminal lawyer will provide you with free 15 minute legal consultation.

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