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What is careless driving and should I fight my Ontario careless driving ticket?

An Ontario careless driving charge involves driving on a highway without due care and attention or without reasonable consideration for others using the highway.

On conviction (including a guilty plea), you will be liable to a fine between $400 and $2,000. For very serious circumstances, such as where car accidents are involved, you may be liable to imprisonment for up to six months, or to both a fine and imprisonment. In addition, your driver’s licence or permit may be suspended for a period of not more than two years. If the offence was committed in community zones and you are convicted, the fine will be doubled.

The following table is a further explanation about the possible penalties:

Conviction
Penalties
Demerit Points Discretional Suspension Fine Imprisonment
Careless Driving 6 Not more than 2 years Between $400.00 and $2,000.00
In community safety zones: between $800.00 and $4,000.00
Not more than 6 months
* On conviction, the penalty can be both fine and imprisonment.
* If it is in construction zones or community safety zones, the minimal fine will be doubled.

If there is no suspension of your driver’s licence by the court, you will receive 6 demerit points. You may lose your licence, if your demerit points reach 15. For detailed information, please refer to the “Demerit Point System” part of this website

The conviction will be kept on your driving record for at least 3 years. Your insurance premiums could be increased for several years and you might even be disqualified from your existing insurance coverage. For information about how traffic tickets impact your insurance, please refer to the section “Insurance Premiums” part of this website

It is always recommended to fight the charge. Although careless driving is a very serious offence under the Highway Traffic Act, it is a strict liability offence and there are various options your paralegal maybe able to arise, such as:

  1. Plead guilty to the less serious offence of “Follow too Close” should it be offered by the prosecutor. For detailed information, please refer to the section “Follow too Close”.
  2. Plead not guilty and leave the responsibility to the prosecution to prove all facts beyond a reasonable doubt including elements of who, where, when, how, etc. You do not need to prove that you are a “perfect” driver, but instead what you were doing was what any reasonable person would do in that particular circumstance. Any evidence which raises a reasonable doubt would result in an acquittal.

Our general experience is that many careless driving charges can be reduced to lesser offences.

For other possible general defences, please refer to the section “General Defence for Traffic Tickets”.