This article is for general information only and should not be relied on for specific legal advice.  The author will not be held responsible for any action that a person takes as a result of interpretation of the contents of this article. It is important to seek specific advice from a qualified and experienced lawyer for any legal problem. 

In Queensland it is an offence to drive a motor vehicle carelessly, also commonly known as driving without due care. 

The Police must prove that you were not driving carefully and in a way that showed reasonable consideration for other road users. It is important to note that you can be charged with careless driving even if you are driving on private property, or if there are no other cars involved.  

You can be charged with the offence of careless driving regardless if you have caused an accident or not. If you have caused an accident as a result of your driving it will be found to be an aggravating factor, making the charge more serious.  

You can be charged with careless driving if you have caused an accident that has resulted in injury to another person or death, however more serious charges such as Dangerous Driving are more common when serious injury or death is caused. 

The Law and Careless Driving

Section 83 of the Transport Operations (Road Use Management) Act (Qld) states: 

(1) Any person who drives a motor vehicle on a road or elsewhere without due care and attention or without reasonable consideration for other persons using the road or place is guilty of an offence. 

(2) If the court convicts a person of an offence against subsection (1) in the circumstances mentioned in paragraph (a) or (b) of the penalty, the court, whether or not any other sentence is imposed, must disqualify the person from holding or obtaining a Queensland driver licence for a period of at least 6 months.

Elements of the Offence

It is the duty of the prosecutor to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the Defendant has committed the offence. Every charge has a number of elements that the Prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt. For the charge of Careless Driving the Prosecution must prove; 

  1. Defendant – The Prosecutor has to prove the identification of the offender; 
  2. Drove; 
  3. A Motor Vehicle; 
  4. On a Road or Road Related Area; 
  5. Without due care and attention; OR 
  6. Without reasonable consideration for other persons using the road or place.

Maximum Penalty for Careless Driving

The charge of careless driving holds a maximum penalty of 6 months imprisonment or a fine of 40 penalty units.  

If death or grievous bodily harm is caused to another person AND it was an unlicensed driver at the time of committing the offence it holds a maximum penalty of 2 years imprisonment or 160 penalty units.  

If death or grievous bodily harm is caused to another person it holds a maximum penalty of 1 years imprisonment or 80 penalty units.  

The Court is not required to impose a period of disqualification, however has discretion to impose a period of disqualification if they believe it is warranted. Disqualification can range from 1 month to an absolute disqualification.  

Absolute disqualification means you are disqualified for a minimum of 2 years, after the period of 2 years you can apply to have your licence reinstated.  


In Queensland, if a person is convicted of Careless Driving, then the court could impose one of the following penalties: 

  • Jail (suspended, parole or actual time); 
  • Intensive Corrections Order; 
  • Probation; 
  • Community Service Order; 
  • Fines. 

The actual penalty will depend on the circumstances of the matter including the seriousness of the offence and the individual circumstances and background of the Defendant.  

Possible Defences for Careless Driving

There are a number of defences available to charges at law. Not every defence is available to every charge. You will need to seek specific legal advice to see if you have a defence available to you for this charge. Some of the common defences available in criminal charges are:

  • Necessity; 
  • Mistake of Fact; 
  • Public Safety; 
  • Self Defence or defence of another person; 
  • Intoxication; 
  • Provocation; 
  • Accident; 
  • Duress; 
  • Compulsion; 
  • Insanity; 
  • Automatism 

Which Court will your matter be heard in?

The charge Careless Driving will be heard in the Magistrates Court in Queensland. The charge will be heard and determined by a Magistrate alone whether you plead guilty or not guilty. There is no jury in the Magistrates Court. 

What should I do if the police want to speak to me about a Careless Driving allegation or if I am charged with Careless Driving?

You have the right to remain silent. You DO have to provide police with your name, date of birth and contact details. You should NOT answer any questions, make any statement or participate in any interview with the police. You should be polite to the officer but insist that you want to talk to your lawyer. You have the right to telephone a friend, relative or lawyer.

Call an Expert

If you are charged with a criminal offence, it is very important that you seek immediate legal advice. Our team at Brooke Winter Solicitors can give you over-the-phone advice. We have a solid reputation as expert Criminal Lawyers and can represent you in court. We can make recommendations, such as defensive driving courses

Call us on 1300 066 669 if you have any questions. We can assist you no matter where you are located and can appear in every court.