Aggravated dangerous operation of a motor vehicle is often committed in the following ways:
Drag race from the lights
A person stops beside a fellow road user at a red traffic light. The two people agree, by an exchange of nods and revving of their engines, that they will race one another from a standing start when the light turns green. The light duly turns green, the two drivers take off at high speed and the person, unfortunately, loses control and drives into a power pole. Assuming they are a youthful first offender (and they survive) they will almost certainly be charged with aggravated dangerous operation of a motor vehicle (for having participated in an unlawful street race) and they will receive a large fine or some form of conditional release (perhaps probation and/or community service or even a suspended jail sentence).
Wrong way home from the pub
A person is heavily intoxicated and decides to drive home from the pub. Unfortunately, because of their intoxicated state, they find themselves on the wrong side of the road driving headlong into oncoming traffic for several kilometres. Assuming nobody is hurt or killed this person might expect to receive a probation or community service order or even a suspended jail sentence.
Please note this example and penalty is an illustration only. Every case is different and if you have been charged with an offence you should contact Townes & Associates for specific advice on your situation.
A person is not guilty of aggravated dangerous operation of a motor vehicle if their driving conduct was not ‘objectively’ dangerous, which means dangerous in all of the circumstance of the case. In cases where the alleged aggravated circumstance is intoxication, or prior convictions, it can be extremely difficult to defeat the charge but where the allegation is one of excessive speed or participation in an unlawful event it is sometimes possible to defeat the aggravated allegation, for example where the evidence of excessive speed is simply the fact of an accident (i.e. “they must have been going fast because they crashed”).
A charge of aggravated dangerous operation of a motor vehicle will be heard in the Magistrates Court unless a defendant elects for a trial in front of a District Court jury.
Dangerous operation, whether simpliciter or aggravated, is a type 1 offence for the purpose of the impoundment powers in the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act 2002 and it is extremely common for clients who are charge with aggravated dangerous operation to have the vehicle they were driving impounded under the PPRA ‘anti-hooning’ regime.
It is possible to retrieve a motor vehicle from Police custody if it has been impounded under the hooning regime. Essentially a client can get their car back if the impoundment is causing special hardship to their family (common where the client’s partner can no longer get to work or drive the children to school), they were not the owner of the car (common in cases where a young person is guilty of dangerous operation in their parent’s car), or – the lay down misere – they are not guilty of dangerous operation.