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I hurt someone in a car accident? Will I go to jail? January 17, 2012

Posted by andersonslawblog in Andersons Solicitors, Criminal Law, General News, Major Crimes, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Police Matters, Traffic Offences.
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So you have just been involved in a car accident.

You’re aware that people in your car and the other vehicle are hurt. How seriously, you don’t know.

You were the driver of one of the vehicles and naturally you’re concerned about the safety of your passengers and all those involved. You should first contact police an ambulance.

Then you are approached by police about allegations of the way you were driving. The police are alleging that you were speeding prior to the accident.  You should be aware that anything that you do say to police can be used against you.  So it’s important that you are aware of your rights when speaking to police. For more info on this, see our blog on “speaking with police”.

The police are looking at charges ranging from driving without due care, driving in a manner dangerous to the public to causing death or injury by dangerous driving.

If you are charged and arrested your mind immediately races and panic sets in.  The first question that comes to mind is “will I go to jail?”

The most important point to remember is that if you have been charged with one of the above offences, in criminal law, you are innocent until proven guilty. The burden of proof to find you guilty must be beyond reasonable doubt.  That is the Police and Prosecution must prove beyond all reasonable doubt that all the objective elements of the offence have been satisfied. This is an extremely high burden.

Driving offences are treated seriously by the Courts.

How Serious?

The maximum penalties available for the more serious driving matters such as cause death by dangerous driving is 15 years imprisonment and a mandatory loss of licence of minimum 10 years.

But if the charges allege that your driving was sufficiently severe there may be an ”aggravating” feature added to the charge, which increases the maximum penalty to life imprisonment.

What constitutes an aggravating feature?

  • Drag Racing
  • Excessively high speeds
  • Driving to escape police pursuit
  • Street racing
  • Driving whilst disqualified
  • Driving with a concentration of .08 grams or above of alcohol
  • Prolonged and persistent deliberate court record of very bad driving

So will I go to jail?

Unfortunately, there is no clear cut definition as to when a person goes to jail. Each case is determined on its merits and no two cases are the same. However, the more serious the charges are the greater likelihood of receiving a term of imprisonment. It should be noted that we are seeing more and more people who have been charged with cause death by dangerous driving and cause injury by dangerous driving, the Courts are imposing immediate terms of imprisonment.

If you are unfortunate enough to be charged with serious driving offences causing harm or death of another person, the repercussions can be grave.

At Andersons we have a dedicated team of professionals with experience in serious criminal motor vehicle matters, ranging from driving without due care right up to causing death by dangerous driving. We understand that the criminal justice system can be daunting and intimidating to those on the outside, which is why our team will assist you through all aspects of your matter, from dealing and liaising with Prosecution, working through the Court process and everything in between.

Most importantly, if you’ve been charged with serious driving offences, get experienced legal advice.  Visit our Criminal Department for more information on the Andersons Criminal & Police matters team or get in touch with the writers of this blog, Jason Coluccio and Maddalena Romano for a chat or to seek advice and assistance.

Please note, this Blog is posted in Adelaide, South Australia. It relates to South Australian legislation.



1. Yasin patel - June 10, 2012

I would be grateful if you could reply to me, I was involved in a collision where I driving on the main road, a car travelling on the opposite direction produced. U turn in front of me forming a collision, as I hit its side doors, an I going to get prosecuted?

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