Careless Driving

What is careless driving charges or also known as driving without due care and attention in Queensland and what penalties can be expected

Careless driving is also known as driving without due care and attention or reckless driving.  Although the charge is less serious than dangerous driving, which is a criminal charge, it can still carry a driver licence disqualification period and fine.  Section 83 of the Transport Operations (Road Use Management) Act 1995 states that a person commits an offence if he or she drives a motor vehicle or a road or elsewhere:

  • without due care and attention; or
  • without reasonable consideration for other persons using that road or place.


Why would I be charged with careless driving?

Typically the police issue careless driving charges for traffic accidents where they feel the driver is at fault.  The police must be satisfied that you drove without due care and attention or without reasonable consideration for other road users.  You can be charged with careless driving even if you are driving on private property. You can also be charged with careless driving even if there is no other cars involved and even if there is no accident or damaged caused. For example, you can be charged with careless driving if you take off from traffic lights in an overly aggressive manner. This can be taken by the police to be careless driving although there was no accident or damage caused.


I had my accident 9 months ago why am I only now being charged?

In our experience the investigation period for a careless driving can be quite long and taking 9 months is not usual.


What court will hear a careless driving charge

The magistrates court will hear the charge.  The police will issue a notice to appear in the magistrates court closet to where the alleged offence occurred.  You can check the contact details of the magistrates court by clicking here.


What penalty does a careless driving charge carry?

Whilst the maximum penalty is $4,000 and 6 months imprisonment the courts generally issue fines for careless driving charges.  The court also has the ability to impose a disqualification period if the circumstances warrant although it does not have to impose a disqualification.  The disqualification, if imposed, can range from 1 month to an absolute disqualification. Absolute disqualification means you are disqualified for a minimum of 2 years, at which time you can apply for a licence reinstatement.

Generally we have found the courts look to impose a disqualification of around 3 – 6 months if the offence is fairly serious although this can go higher depending on the circumstances.  If another driver is injured in the accident then a disqualification is almost certain. 

Careless driving is also classed as a type 1 hooning charge which can have quite severe consequences.   For the first Type 1 offence, the vehicle you were driving can be impounded or immobilised for 90 days. For the second offence the vehicle can be impounded and may be confiscated at the end of any legal proceedings against you.


Careless driving v reckless driving v negligent driving

In Queensland the charge is known as careless driving, other states and overseas jurisdictions often use the term reckless driving or negligent driving.  You will rarely hear lawyers, or the magistrates or prosecutors use the term reckless or negligent driving, careless driving is the term used in Queensland.


Careless driving causing death or grievous bodily harm

In 2018 the government created a new charge of careless driving death or grievous bodily harm (GBH).  The offence mandated a minimum disqualification period of 6 months and increased the maximum prison sentence from 6 months to 1 year (or 2 years if the driver was unlicensed).

Grievous bodily harm is defined to mean the loss of a distinct part or organ of the body or serious disfigurement or any bodily injury of such a nature that, if left untreated, would endanger or be likely to endanger life or cause or be likely to cause permanent injury to health.  It is immaterial whether or not medical treatment is or could have been available to the injured person.

This is a very serious charge that requires expert legal help,  We have a detailed article on careless driving causing death or grevious bodily harm


What is the difference between careless driving and dangerous driving?

Dangerous driving is the more serious charge and generally reserved where the actions of the driver could be considered dangerous rather than merely careless or without due care and attention.  In deciding whether the driving was dangerous the court looks at the speed the vehicle was driven and whether the driving was dangerous to the public having regard to all the circumstances including:

  • the nature, condition and use of where the accident occurred
  • the nature and condition of the vehicle
  • the number of persons, vehicles or other objects that are, or might reasonably be expected to be in the area


What will happen in court?

The court process for a careless driving charge in Queensland is typically;

  • you are asked if you are pleading guilty or not guilty
  • if you are pleading guilty then the prosecutor will tell the magistrate what occurred
  • the prosecutor will also hand up any traffic or criminal history you may have
  • the magistrate will then give you an opportunity to explain what occurred, what your situation is and why your licence should or should not be disqualified
  • the magistrate then gives their decision on penalty.


Can’t I just plead guilty online?

For minor charges of careless driving it is often fine to plead guilty online.  If however the Magistrate is considering imposing a licence disqualification then they will adjourn your charge to another date and you will be required to attend the court on that date in person so the Magistrate can decide if your licence will be disqualified.  The government website for pleading guilty online can be accessed here.


If I lose my licence can I get a work licence?

If disqualified you cannot apply for a work licence or hardship licence so if your licence is vital we will need to put your circumstances to the court to in such a way that we can ask the court not to impose any disqualification for the careless driving charge.  We have had much success lately convincing the court not to impose a disqualification period for the charge of careless driving. We do this by undertaking extensive research, having you obtain character references and having you attend driving workshops.


Will I incur any demerit points?

Yes. Queensland Transport will issue 3 demerit points against your licence upon your conviction for this offence.  The demerit points will be deemed to have been occurred at the time of the incident not the date the court deals with the matter.  If the issue of demerit points occurs while you are on a good driving behaviour period you may need to apply for a special hardship licence.

We are happy to discuss, free of charge, what penalty the court may impose and whether you could have no disqualification imposed.


Will I lose my licence?

It very much depends on the circumstances of the incident that lead to the careless driving charge.  If no person has been injured and your traffic history does not contain any previous similar charges then the court will not usually impose a disqualification.  If however someone has been injured or you have a bad traffic history or there is a lot of damage done to the vehicles then the court might look to disqualify your driver’s licence.


Should I get a lawyer to represent me for the careless driving charge?

In a word, yes especially if your traffic history is bad, there was extensive damage done to another vehicle or someone was hurt in the accident.  Remember you cannot get a work licence or other similar licence if you are disqualified.  If your employment or income is dependent on your ability to drive then it is important to get legal representation.


Engaging Clarity Law to act for you

Engaging us gives you the best chance at obtaining no disqualification period and a fine as low possible.   We are the leading traffic law firm in South East Queensland, everyday our lawyers are in court getting the best outcome for clients.  Just some of the benefits of us acting for you include;

  • we know the magistrates and what they want to hear to give you the best outcome
  • we have good relationships with the police prosecutors meaning we can often have them not object to the court not imposing a disqualification
  • we are there to help you through the process and make everything as stress free as possible, in most cases you will not have to say anything in court
  • engaging us shows the court you are taking your charges seriously
  • we know what courses or classes that might help reduce the penalty
  • your matter will be heard early, often first, you do not have to wait for 20-30 other matters to be heard before you
  • you will be fully informed of what is to happen in court and what this means for you after court
  • unlike the police or the magistrates, we are there to look after you, your privacy and your interests


What courts do you appear in?

We appear in every court in South East Queensland.  Just some of the courts we appear in include:





Holland Park

Pine Rivers





Sunshine Coast








Gold Coast








Darling Downs




We have offices at;




                Gold Coast




Will I need to come into the office to see you?

We have offices in Brisbane and on the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coasts and Ipswich, Brendale and Loganholme but in most cases we can handle everything by email and the phone without you ever having to come into our office.  We are also open outside normal business hours for your convenience.


What do you charge?

We charge a flat upfront fee for our services, that means no hidden charges or unexpected bills.  We don't charge any travelling fees either; if you are in Maroochydore or Southport you will pay the same price as if you are Brisbane.

We are also upfront with our fees, if you look at other law firms few, if any, clearly list how much they are going to charge you.  Clarity Law on the other hand are happy to list our prices as we are sure no other South East Queensland law firm can match our prices and experience. Our prices include;

  • full preparation for court including checking for defences and devising strategy to minimise penalty
  • negotiations with the police prosecution unit including obtaining traffic history and charge documents
  • drafting submissions for the court
  • arranging for you to attend a driving course (if appropriate)
  • all telephone calls, faxes emails and meetings with you
  • detailed information to you on the likely penalty and information on what will happen at court and afterwards
  • appearing in the court with you to conduct your guilty plea

To see what we will for a guilty plea on a careless driving charge click here


If I contacted you what would occur?

If you contact us then Steven Brough the firms founder or our office manager Belinda Smyth will take the call or receive the email. They have 40 years legal experience between them, we can provide immediate legal assistance and answer any questions you have. We will discuss your case, provide guidance and send a quote by email with additional relevant information about your charge, all at no cost.

If you want to engage us then it’s easy, there is a form you can complete and email back or complete online. If you don’t want to engage us or want to engage another firm that’s fine, you won’t be hassled and at worst you will just have more information about your charge. Once engaged one of our lawyers will go through your matter and contact you to discuss what the best way forward is to achieve the best results. Everyone of our lawyers are very experienced with thousands of courts appearances between them.


How do I get more help or engage you to act for me? 

We have been operating since 2010 and undertaken hundreds of careless driving charges throughout South East Queensland.

If you want to engage us or just need further information or advice then you can either;

  1. Use our contact form and we will contact you by email or phone at a time that suits you
  2. Call us on 1300 952 255 seven days a week, 7am to 7pm
  3. email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  4. Visit our main website page

We cover all courts in South East Queensland from the Gold Coast to Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast and out to Toowoomba.  We have 6 offices in South East Queensland to assist people.  We are a no pressure law firm, we are happy to provide information to assist you, if you want to engage us then great, if not then you at least have more information about careless driving. You won’t be chased or hounded to engage us.  Remember its critical you get advice before going to court, a careless driving charge can have an impact on you, your family and your employment or business.  


Need more information?

We have a range of articles on careless driving on our blog.  Some of the most recent have included:


This article general information only and not legal advice and is rewritten subject to our disclaimer that can be read by clicking here

Liability limited by a scheme approved under professional standards legislation