Serious driving offences
If you kill someone while you are driving a motor vehicle you could be charged with culpable driving.
Driving ‘culpably’ means driving
- Negligently; or
- While you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs (so that you aren’t able to control the vehicle properly).
Reckless driving is when a person deliberately ignores the fact that his or her driving is likely to cause someone else’s death or serious injury.
Negligent driving is when a driver seriously fails to take the amount of care that it would be reasonable to expect him or her to take in the circumstances.
The penalties for culpable driving depend on the seriousness of the offence. They can be very severe and may include imprisonment.
Dangerous driving is when a person drives at a speed, or in a manner that is dangerous to the public in the circumstances.
If you are convicted of this offence, you will lose your licence (or be disqualified from getting a licence) for a certain period. You could also be fined heavily and/or imprisoned.
Careless driving is a very broad offence and it is common for drivers to be charged with it in situations where they fail to exercise reasonable care and attention.
If you drive a motor vehicle carelessly, you could be allocated demerit points and be fined.
If you are convicted of careless driving while you are on your P-plates, you could also have your licence suspended and your probationary licence period extended by at least six months.
Anyone who drives faster than the speed limit on any stretch of road is breaking the law.
If you speed, you could be fined, be allocated demerit points, or even lose your licence or be disqualified from getting a licence for a certain period, depending on how much over the speed limit you are. You could also be charged with dangerous driving.
If you are convicted of speeding while you are on your P-plates, you could also have your licence suspended and your probationary licence period extended.
What about races and speed trials?
It is against the law to organise or take part in any kind of race or speed trial involving a motor vehicle.
This includes drag races and attempts to break speed records. The only exception is if the event has been officially authorised by the Minister.
You could be fined for this offence and also charged with other offences such as speeding or dangerous driving.
Driving when you’re over the limit
Different blood alcohol limits apply to different people. It is an offence to drive if the amount of alcohol in your blood is over the limit that applies to you.
Blood alcohol limits – which one applies to me?
If you are on your L-plates or your P-plates, the zero blood alcohol limit applies – in other words, you must have no alcohol at all in your blood while you are driving. You could be fined and possibly lose your licence if you break this law. In some cases, you might have to take part in a drink-driving education program before you will be able to get your licence back again.
The 0.05 blood alcohol limit applies to most other drivers and riders. Different penalties apply depending on how much over the limit you are, and whether it is your first drink-driving offence or not. You could be fined, lose your licence and even be imprisoned.
If you drive with a blood alcohol level between zero and 0.05 while you are on your L-plates or P-plates, your licence will automatically be suspended for at least one month.
The police have the power to ask you to have a breath test if you are driving a motor vehicle, or if they have a reasonable belief that you were the driver of a motor vehicle that was involved in an accident no more than three hours ago. (If the police are not sure who the driver of a vehicle involved in an accident was, they can ask anyone they reasonably believe was in the car at the time to have a breath test within three hours of the accident.)
You don’t have to take a breath test if it has been more than three hours since you drove or were a passenger in the motor vehicle.
If the breath test shows that there is alcohol in your blood, the police have the power to arrest you and take you to a police station for the purposes of giving you a breath analysis.
Driving under the influence
It is an offence to drive while you are under the influence of alcohol. The police will look particularly at the way you are driving and will charge you if they think that you are so affected by alcohol that you cannot control the vehicle properly.
You can be charged with driving under the influence in addition to other drink-driving offences, such as driving when you’re over the limit.
Driving under the influence of drugs
It is against the law to drive while you are under the influence of drugs. The police will look particularly at the way you are driving and will charge you if they think that you are so affected by drugs that you cannot control the vehicle properly.
All car drivers and passengers in the Northern Territory must wear seat belts.
The driver of a car will be fined and will incur [or] be awarded demerit points for driving when not wearing a seat belt themselves, or for carrying passengers under the age of 16 who do not wear seat belts or approved child restraints. The driver may also lose his or her licence.