It is an offence to drive a motor vehicle at a speed dangerous to any person. 

Whether or not driving is reckless or dangerous depends on a number of factors, such as:

  • condition of the road;
  • amount of traffic;
  • time of day;
  • the weather; 
  • number of roads at the intersection you are travelling on; and/or
  • condition of the vehicle.

This offence is contained in section 46(1) of the Road Traffic Act 1961 (SA). 

Our criminal lawyers at Caldicott Lawyers are experts in all driving matters and specifically driving at a speed dangerous.


The maximum penalty for driving at a speed dangerous to the public is 2 years imprisonment.

The court must also order that you be disqualified from holding a driver’s licence for a period of at least 1 year if it is your first offence, or 3 years if it is your second offence.

Deciding whether or not to plead guilty has important implications and should be made after proper discussions with a criminal lawyer.

If you do decide to plead guilty to an offence of driving at a speed dangerous to the public we can assist you to get the best result possible.

Our team of specialist criminal lawyers have extensive criminal law experience and know the best way to present your case before each of the Magistrates in the State. The results they obtain speak for themselves.

Call 08 8120 3783 to make an appointment with one of the knowledgeable lawyers at Caldicott Lawyers for assistance with your driving matter.

You weren’t driving

In some cases, the wrong person is charged with an offence. There are a variety of ways in which this can occur. It may be that there was an administrative error on the prosecution’s behalf or perhaps, the offender was carrying your identification in which they presented to police. Regardless, it is a complete defence to this charge if it can be shown that you were not driving the vehicle.

Your speed posed no potential danger

This charge is concerned with the danger, or potential danger, your driving posed to the public. It may be the case that, despite the fact that your vehicle was travelling at a high speed, no members of the public were placed at the risk of harm as a result of your driving. If there is evidence to support this argument, then you may have a defence to this charge.

You were carrying out your duties as an emergency worker

Section 19A(10) of the Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935 provides an exclusive avenue of defence for emergency workers. You will have a complete defence to this charge if it can be shown that you were acting in the course of your employment, and that you were acting in accordance with the directions of your employer. You will also be required to prove that you were acting reasonably in the circumstances.


It is a complete defence to this charge if we can show that you were acting under duress. That is, you were acting as a result of violence, or some other threat, against you. You will have a defence to this charge if we can demonstrate that you were coerced into the act by a third party, effectively rendering you an instrument of someone else’s criminal conduct.


The common law defence of necessity operates where the circumstances at hand (natural or human threats) require you to break the law in order to avoid even more dire consequences. Thus, there is some overlap with the defence of duress. It will need to be shown that you believed on reasonable grounds that you were placed in a situation of imminent peril. You may have a medical justification or it may be the case that you were acting in the course of protecting yourself or someone else.

Essentially, the Court will need to weigh up the act you have committed against the harm you would have experienced had you not acted in that manner. Further, the Court will need to be convinced that the act was proportionate to the potential harm.

In addition, it may be possible to have the charge downgraded to speeding, which has a lesser maximum penalty.

Mental Impairment

The law recognises that in some cases people will not be capable of evaluating the nature and quality of their conduct or more categorically, they will not know what they are doing is wrong. If it can be shown that you were suffering from some sort of mental disease, disorder or disturbance, as distinguished from a mere lack of self-control or impulsiveness, then you may have a defence to this charge.

Mental impairments may be either permanent or non-permanent and has been held to include disorders such as:

  • Schizophrenia
  • Hyperglycaemia
  • Psychomotor epilepsy
  • Cerebral arteriosclerosis

Suspended Sentence

If you find yourself in the unfavourable position of not only having been found guilty of an offence, but also having been sentenced to a term of imprisonment, we may be able to obtain a suspended sentence on your behalf under section 38 of the Criminal Law (Sentencing) Act 1988. If you receive a suspended sentence, you will be required to enter into a good behaviour bond and will also be required to comply with any other conditions the court sees fit to impose.

Trifling Application or Application for Reduction of Demerit Points

Trifling application or any other proper cause: made immediately after conviction may have the effect of reducing the amount of demerit points. The same magistrate is required as the one who convicted the defendant to hear the evidence and decide if the offence is trifling or whether any other proper cause for reduction exists Zanker v Hyndman.

Proper cause must relate to the offence itself. The fact that may suffer hardship from recording demerit points not amount to proper cause Hepworth v Rowbottom.

The Prosecution must prove that:

  1. you were driving a motor vehicle;
  2. the vehicle was on a road; and
  3. the vehicle was travelling at a speed which is dangerous to the public.

This matter will be dealt with in the Magistrates Court of South Australia.

Pope v Hall (1982) 30 SASR 78: If the speed in itself is dangerous, the offence is made out. It will be no defence that the vehicle was under control.

R v Coventry (1938) SASR 79: The conduct of a driver is to be assessed according to an objective standard. In general terms, the expression “driving at a speed, or in a manner, which is dangerous to the public” describes the actual behaviour of the driver and does not require any given state of mind as an essential element of the offence.

McBride v The Queen (1965) 115 CLR 44: A person may drive at a speed or in a manner dangerous to the public without causing any actual injury: it is the potentiality of danger to the public in the manner of driving, whether realised by the accused or not, which makes it dangerous to the public within the meaning of section 46.

Come and see the helpful team at Caldicott Lawyers for assistance in your matter.