In the case of careless driving, the police will charge you if they believe you didn’t drive reasonably.
Going to court for a careless driving offence
Get help preparing for your court date if you have one coming up. You can request help online.
Your conviction or indictment depends on the specific facts and circumstances of your case. You will find this information in your charge sheet, under the heading ‘Details of the Charge’, which is the information the police officer has written about your offence. The magistrate will refer to this information in court.
If the prosecution wants to prove it was you who was driving recklessly on the road in a way that was not prudent (sensible) in light of the circumstances and that you were not being careful and prudent (sensible).
Unless you were hit from behind, pretty much all accidents are caused by careless driving. Examples:
- Failure to keep an eye on things
- Not keeping a distance
Whether there was an accident or not, careless driving still counts.
In case of court, what are my options?
The prosecutor will read out the statement of alleged facts during the court hearing. The magistrate will find you guilty and give you a sentence.
When you plead guilty, the magistrate treats it as a sign of cooperation and can give you a lighter punishment.
Plead not guilty
You have to tell the prosecutor you want to plead not guilty if you don’t believe you broke the law, or if you disagree with what’s in the statement of alleged facts. You’ll have a summary case conference with the magistrate before your case goes to court. Tell him you still want to plead not guilty. He’ll adjourn your case for another day.
If you get charged with breaking the law, you’ll go to court for a contested hearing. The magistrate listens to evidence from you and the police before making a decision. You’ll need an argument to defend yourself. You can’t say that you didn’t know you were breaking the law.
Get legal advice if you’re pleading not guilty.
- It is a defence if you were:
- not the driver
- Taking reasonable care while driving.
Can I adjourn my hearing?
If you need a lawyer, you can ask the magistrate to adjourn (put off) your case.
You may be able to get an adjournment without going into court if you haven’t adjourned your case before. When you get to court, tell the staff you want it adjourned.
What are the penalties if I am found guilty?
Your license will get three demerit points from VicRoads from the date the offence happened, not when you went to court.
The magistrate may give you a fine. You can get:
- up to 12 penalty units – first offence of careless driving
- up to 25 penalty units – if this is not your first careless driving offence.
If you’re supporting a family, you should tell the magistrate about your income and expenses.
Fines Victoria will send you a Court fine collection statement if you don’t pay the fine right away. It will tell you how much you owe and when you have to pay.
If you can’t pay the fine all at once, Fines Victoria can work out a payment plan for you.
A warrant can be issued for your arrest if you don’t pay the fine on time. Fines Victoria can increase the fine.
Losing your licence
During this time, you must not drive. There are no exceptions. If you drive while suspended, you’ll get in big trouble.
You might also get an undertaking to behave well.
What else might happen if I am found guilty?
Court keeps a record of your crimes. If you cause someone’s property damage with careless driving, the magistrate can make you pay compensation.
Can I appeal the magistrate’s decision?
You can appeal the decision. You have 28 days to do so. Get legal advice before you decide. You could get a higher punishment.