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An Overview of Dangerous Driving in Ontario

Dangerous driving has become and continues to be a problem on the roads of Ontario. The lives of everyone are at risk as they share the roads with dangerous and reckless drivers. Perhaps if there were increased awareness about the ramifications of dangerous driving on one’s livelihood, there would be less of it. 

The Law

Let’s start with the law.

Section 249 (a) of the Criminal Code of Canada describes the offence of Dangerous Driving as a person who operates a motor vehicle in a manner that is dangerous to the public, having regard to all the circumstances, including the nature, condition and use of the place at which the motor vehicle is being operated and the amount of traffic that at the time is or might reasonably be expected to be at that place.

Section 249 (b) of the Criminal Code of Canada notes the penalty for Dangerous Driving can be either summarily or by indictment, the latter which carries a term of imprisonment not exceeding five years. Where dangerous operation causes bodily harm, the term of imprisonment is for a term not exceeding ten years. Where dangerous operation causes death, the term of imprisonment is for a term not exceeding fourteen years.

Essentially, what the Criminal Code is referring to regarding dangerous driving is that dangerous drivers who demonstrate wanton and reckless disregard for the lives and safety of others, while driving in a public place, will be charged with a criminal offence. A public place refers to any place where the public has access such as public roads, schools, parking lots or shopping malls. The Crown bears the onus to prove that the accused driver had intent to commit the dangerous driving.

The Crown’s Burden to Prove the Essential Elements

The dangerous driving has to be committed in a motor vehicle. A motor vehicle is defined in the Criminal Code as a vehicle that is drawn, propelled or driven by any means other than muscular power. In other words, any vehicle that is pushed, pulled or driven by an engine of any sort will be considered a motor vehicle. For a conviction of dangerous driving, the court must consider all the circumstances of the actions of the accused. These are:

  • the nature, conditions and the use of the place;
  • the amount of traffic that is or might be expected to be present;
  • was there a danger to the public;
  • who was present or, who might have been present including for example a passenger in the car;
  • the mental element of the charge – for instance, whether the driver planned on committing the act; and
  • whether there is proof of an intention to operate a motor vehicle in a way which would be a departure from the standard care that a normal driver would be expected to act.

In addition to the above, the Crown has to be able to prove intention to commit the act of dangerous driving, that the act was in fact dangerous and that there was or could have been members of the public present at the scene the alleged offence took place.

The Consequences of a Dangerous Driving Conviction

The penalties for a conviction of dangerous driving will affect the livelihood of the person convicted, not to mention their ability to drive a motor vehicle. Additionally, a conviction can result in: a criminal record; driving prohibition; fines; jail; criminal probation; and a significant increase in insurance rates for years to come. The consequences are actually more severe than for impaired driving as unlike a DUI, with a dangerous driving conviction you cannot resume driving early by having an Ignition Interlock Device installed in your vehicle.

A criminal defence lawyer from the Aitken Robertson team will go to work for you to challenge the Crown’s case against you. Our goal would be to help you avoid a criminal record and a driver’s licence suspension.

The Aitken Robertson Team

If you have been charged with dangerous driving, you should not take it lightly. Contact our office for an in person or telephone free 30-minute consultation to learn about our legal services and how we can help. We will work with you to minimize the damages and get you the most satisfactory results possible.

Yasmine Al-Zaman

Yasmine’s patience, compassion and understanding allow her to work collaboratively and effectively with her clients. She appreciates the level of fear and confusion most people feel when confronted with the legal system. With that in mind, Yasmine puts her best foot forward to offer quality legal services.

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