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Do you need help to defend a provincial offence or highway traffic charge? Book a free consultation with Jami Sanftleben, one of our paralegals. You can also call us at 1-800-668-1657 to book your free consultation.

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

Careless driving is, unfortunately, one of the most common charges under the Highway Traffic Act. Let’s say you’re facing a careless driving charge, you’re probably wondering, what now? Well, keep on reading to gain what we like to call a “took-kit” respecting careless driving offences. Not many people take it upon themselves to learn about what a conviction for careless driving entails unless they or someone they know are facing that particular ticket already. Well, in either scenario, it is helpful to fully appreciate the implications of having a conviction to a careless driving offence.

There are many factors to consider when it comes to this provincial offences ticket, namely:

  • penalties,
  • insurance,
  • fines, and
  • your driver’s record.

What is the Offence of Careless Driving?

As recently as September of 2018, the offence of careless driving in Ontario was updated to include two versions as follows:

Version I of the offence refers to careless driving that does not cause bodily harm or death and is defined under the Highway Traffic Act as follows:

Section 130 (1) “Every person is guilty of the offence of driving carelessly who drives a vehicle or street car on a highway without due care and attention or without reasonable consideration for other persons using the highway.”

Version II of the offence refers to careless driving causing bodily harm or death and is defined under the Highway Traffic Actas follows:

Section 130 (3) “Every person is guilty of the offence of driving carelessly who drives a vehicle or street car on a highway without due care and attention or without reasonable consideration for other persons using the highway and who thereby causes bodily harm or death to any person.”

You can determine which version your careless driving charge is by searching for the section number displayed on the ticket, i.e. 130(1) Version I or 130 (3) Version II.

A careless driving offence occurs when a person who is deemed to drive, without reasonable consideration for other motor vehicle drivers, in a way that may limit the driver’s ability to sensibly adjust to unexpected circumstances on the road.

Even though this particular law is somewhat open for interpretation, there are acts that are commonly considered to be careless driving. Some examples of careless driving include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Safe Distance: Failing to maintain a safe distance from other vehicles.
  • Mirrors: Failing to check mirrors when reversing or changing directions.
  • Passing: Making risky or unsafe passing.
  • Stopping: Running a red light or stop sign.
  • Speed: Excessive speeding or street racing.
  • Accidents: Accidents involving pedestrians and cyclists.
  • Texting: A crash caused because of a careless action – such as texting and driving.
  • Proper Care: Any other situation where proper care is not taken.
  • Distracted Driving: A crash caused because a careless action such as playing with the radio.

Careless Driving Penalties

As expected, a careless driving conviction comes with undesirable penalties. These can include fines, driver’s licence suspension, increase in insurance rates, cancelled insurance and even jail time. The two different versions mentioned above attract varied penalties.

Version I

  • The maximum fine here is $2,000.00
  • If the charge is a serious one, then a jail sentence can be imposed of up to 6 months
  • The maximum licence suspension following a conviction is two years
  • Increased insurance rates
  • Potential cancellation of insurance by the policy provider
  • 6 demerit points

Version II

  • The minimum fine here is less than $2,000 and not more than $50,000
  • If the charge is a serious one, then a jail sentence can be imposed of up to two years
  • The maximum licence suspension following a conviction is five years
  • There is an automatic licence suspension here following a conviction
  • Increased insurance rates
  • Potential cancellation of insurance by the policy provider
  • 6 demerit points

What is the Difference between Careless Driving and Dangerous Driving?

Many drivers make the mistaken assumption that careless driving and dangerous driving are the same offence or at least, quite similar, but they are not. Dangerous driving is an offence under the Criminal Code of Canada and not the HTA, a provincial statute.

Dangerous driving is defined as an offence committed by a person who is operating 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 (i.e. not parking lots) to be at that place. Careless driving charges are only applicable on roadways, whereas dangerous driving covers a wider range of areas including parking lots, private roads and even driveways. The penalties for dangerous driving are more severe than those for careless driving. If convicted for dangerous driving, you will receive a criminal record. Either way, each charge carries with it harsh penalties and hence, it is important that you seek legal representation to minimize the impact and maximize favourable results.

It is always recommended to fight the charge of careless driving.

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.

The Aitken Robertson Team of Defence

A conviction for a careless driving offence should be avoided at all costs. First step to do this is to hire a criminal defence lawyer. At Aitken Robertson, our lawyers will assess your case and advance any defences available to you. We deal with such cases on a daily basis. Our goal is to obtain the best resolution possible on your behalf. Call our office for a free 30-minute consultation and learn how we can help you challenge the ticket.

I am here and ready to defend YOUR traffic ticket.

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Jami Sanftleben, Paralegal
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