Careless driving

Careless driving

Being charged with an offence of careless driving means the police allege that you did not drive with the care and attention that a reasonable driver would.

Often the police charge people with careless driving because the police say the person has caused an accident. However, there does not have to be an accident for this charge to apply.

Going to court for a careless driving offence

For more information about how to prepare for the court hearing see Going to court for traffic offences.

Whether you are guilty depends on the exact facts and circumstances of your case. Look at the ‘Details of the charge’ in your charge sheet to see what the police officer wrote about your offence. The magistrate refers to this in the courtroom.

The prosecution has to prove that you were not driving carefully on a road in a way that was reasonable in the circumstances.

Most accidents will be careless driving unless you were hit from the rear. Examples are:

  • failing to keep a lookout
  • not keeping a proper distance
  • excessive speed in the conditions.

You may still be guilty of careless driving even if there was no accident.

Possible defences

It is a defence if you were:

  • not the driver
  • driving with a reasonable amount of care.

Penalties if you are found guilty

Demerit points

VicRoads adds three demerit points to your licence from the date the offence happened, not the date you went to court. The magistrate cannot change this.

Fines

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.

Losing your licence

The magistrate may cancel or suspend your licence for a certain period of time. You must not drive at all during this time. There are no exceptions. There are very serious penalties for driving while suspended.

Other penalties

The magistrate may also place you on an undertaking to behave well for a certain amount of time.

What else might happen if I am found guilty?

What happens in court goes on your criminal record. If your careless driving caused an accident, the magistrate can make you pay compensation for any damage to someone’s property.

See Possible outcomes for traffic offences for more information about penalties and other outcomes.

Get help

Find out how you can get help with traffic offences.