Police Pursuit New South Wales Law


An unlicensed driver has been arrested after leading police on a pursuit, whilst three children aged five and under were in his car.

The chase occurred in Sydney’s north-west when officers detected a Holden Commodore allegedly speeding on the M1 motorway.

A pursuit was initiated by officers after the 35-year-old male driver from Tregear failed to stop when directed.

The car allegedly reached speeds of 200km/h during the pursuit in a signposted 110km/h zone.

The car stopped after hitting a concrete barrier.

After checks, it was revealed that the driver was disqualified from driving.

He held an expired learner permit.

A 28-year-old woman, two boys aged seven months and five years, and a three-year-old girl, were passengers in the car.

As a precaution, the children were taken to Westmead Children’s Hospital to be checked.

The three-year-old girl was subsequently treated for bruising.

The driver was arrested and taken to Hornsby Police Station where he was charged with police pursuit – not stop – drive dangerously, drive motor vehicle while disqualified, drive with low-range PCA (prescribed concentration of alcohol), and speeding.

He was refused bail by police, to face Hornsby Local Court.

A child-at-risk notification was also made by police.

Pursuant to section 51B of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW), engaging in a police pursuit is an offence.

A first-time offender will face a maximum penalty of 3-years imprisonment, whereas in the case of an offence on a second or subsequent occasion, a maximum penalty of imprisonment for 5 years is applicable.

Furthermore, a first-time offender will receive a maximum license disqualification of 3 years, or a minimum disqualification period of 12-months if the court sees fit.

For a second or subsequent offence the applicable maximum license disqualification period is 5 years, with a minimum disqualification period of 2 years if the court sees fit.

An accused person will be guilty of this offence if the prosecution is able to prove, beyond reasonable doubt that:

  • The driver knew, ought reasonably to have known or had reasonable grounds to suspect that a police officer was in pursuit of the vehicle requiring the vehicle to stop,
  • The driver failed to stop their vehicle, and
  • The driver then drove in a reckless manner or at a speed or manner dangerous to others.

Motor vehicle pursuits are an inherently dangerous offence, and present challenging decisions for officers involved.

Between 1 January 2000 and 31 December 2011, there were 185 fatal pursuit-related vehicle crashes resulting in 218 deaths.

This equates to an average of 15 crashes and 18 deaths per year.

Of these deaths, 50% were of alleged offenders who were driving the vehicle being pursued, while 12% were of alleged offenders who were passengers in the vehicle being pursued.

Those classified as ‘innocent persons’ comprised 38% of deaths.

Of this percentage 17% were passengers in the vehicle, 21% were bystanders or road users, and 13% were police officers involved.

The most prevalent type of offence committed prior to a fatal police pursuit, are those related to traffic such as speeding, dangerous driving, or registration and roadworthy offences.

Notably, since 2004 there has been a 20% decline in the number of pursuits in New South Wales.

About Poppy Morandin

Poppy Morandin is the managing law clerk and an integral part of the team of criminal lawyers at Criminal Defence Lawyers Australia . She's also a part of CDLA's content article production team. Poppy is passionate about law reform and criminal justice.

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