Fast Lane Article 19 DEC 2023

Navigating the Fast Lane: Unravelling Police Pursuit Laws in NSW


Picture this: the flashing lights of a police car in your rear-view mirror, adrenaline pumping through your veins as you make a split-second decision to either pull over or hit the gas. Police pursuits are a gripping and often dangerous aspect of law enforcement, and in New South Wales (NSW), the rules of engagement are strict. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the intricacies of police pursuit laws in NSW, shedding light on what you need to know when those blue and red lights appear behind you.

The Pursuit Protocol

When it comes to police pursuits, the first thing to understand is the protocol followed by law enforcement officers in NSW. Pursuits are not a decision taken lightly; rather, they are governed by a set of rules designed to balance the need to apprehend offenders with public safety.

In NSW, police are authorised to initiate a pursuit when they have reasonable grounds to suspect that a person has committed, or is committing, a serious offence. These offences typically include dangerous driving, evading arrest, or even more severe criminal activities. However, it’s crucial to note that not all offences warrant a pursuit, as officers are trained to assess the risks involved and make a judgment call accordingly.

The Risk Factor

One of the key considerations in any pursuit is the level of risk it poses to public safety. NSW police are well aware of the potential dangers associated with high-speed chases, and as such, they are required to continually reassess the situation. If the risks outweigh the benefits of capturing the suspect, officers are instructed to terminate the pursuit.

This careful balancing act is in place to prevent unnecessary harm to innocent bystanders, drivers, and the pursuing officers themselves. It’s a tough call to make in the heat of the moment, and police must weigh the urgency of apprehension against the potential hazards on the road.

The Legal Consequences

Now, let’s dive into the legal repercussions for those who find themselves on the wrong side of a pursuit in NSW. If you decide to evade the police, you could face charges pursuant to section 51B Crimes Act 1900 (NSW), which carries a maximum penalty of three years imprisonment for a first offence, and five years for a second or subsequent offence. You will also be disqualified from holding a licence for a minimum period of 12 months if you’ve not committed any other major offence in the preceding five years. If you have, the minimum period of disqualification increases to two years.

This charge, otherwise known as Skye’s Law, was named after a tragic incident involving a young girl who was killed during a police pursuit. Under Skye’s Law, fleeing from the police is considered a serious offence, The legal implications extend beyond the immediate act of evasion, often leading to charges related to the original offence that triggered the pursuit.

Navigating the Legal Maze

When faced with charges related to a police pursuit, it’s crucial to seek legal advice promptly. The dedicated traffic offence lawyers at Jackson John are highly skilled at guiding individuals through the complex legal maze. Our team of legal experts possess a deep understanding of the nuances of NSW law and can mount a robust defence tailored to the circumstances of the case.

Our criminal defence lawyers are adept at challenging the evidence presented by the prosecution and exploring potential mitigating factors. They can argue that the pursuit was initiated without proper grounds, question the conduct of the pursuing officers, or highlight any procedural errors that may have occurred during the arrest.


In the fast-paced world of police pursuits in NSW, understanding the rules of engagement is crucial for both law enforcement and the general public. While the police are tasked with maintaining public safety and apprehending offenders, individuals facing charges related to pursuits must navigate the legal landscape with the help of skilled professionals.

Our specialised team of criminal lawyers and traffic offence lawyers will ensure your rights are protected. Navigating the legal consequences of a pursuit requires a careful examination of the circumstances, and with the right legal representation, individuals can increase their chances of a fair and just outcome in the NSW legal system. So, the next time you see those flashing lights, remember – knowledge is your best defence. Contact us today to arrange your free 15-minute initial consultation.