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Careless Driving – Upcoming Changes To The Ontario Highway Traffic Act

On September 1, 2018 there will be some large and important changes coming to the law surrounding Careless Driving charges in Ontario.  Of important note will be significantly greater penalties to defendants charged with Careless Driving where they have caused bodily harm or death to another person.  If you are an Ontario driver, you may want to be aware of these upcoming changes…

THE CURRENT LAW

Currently, Careless Driving (section 130 of the Highway Traffic Act) states that:

130 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 on conviction is liable to a fine of not less than $400 and not more than $2,000 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than six months, or to both, and in addition his or her licence or permit may be suspended for a period of not more than two years.  2009, c. 5, s. 41.

In addition to what would generally be a very large increase to insurance costs and a 6 demerit point penalty, a defendant convicted of Careless Driving can currently face a fine between $400 to $2000 (plus the 25% victim fine surcharge), imprisonment up to 6 months, and up to a 2 year licence suspension.

THE NEW LAW

As of September 1, 2018, the new law coming into effect is as follows:

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. 2017, c. 26, Sched. 4, s. 17.

Penalty

(2) On conviction under subsection (1), a person is liable to a fine of not less than $400 and not more than $2,000 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than six months, or to both, and in addition his or her driver’s licence or permit may be suspended for a period of not more than two years. 2017, c. 26, Sched. 4, s. 17.

Careless driving causing bodily harm or death

(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. 2017, c. 26, Sched. 4, s. 17.

Penalty

(4) On conviction under subsection (3), a person is liable to a fine of not less than $2,000 and not more than $50,000 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than two years, or to both, and in addition his or her driver’s licence or permit may be suspended for a period of not more than five years. 2017, c. 26, Sched. 4, s. 17.

Deemed lack of reasonable consideration

(5) For the purposes of subsections (1) and (3), a person is deemed to drive without reasonable consideration for other persons using the highway if he or she drives in a manner that may limit his or her ability to prudently adjust to changing circumstances on the highway. 2017, c. 26, Sched. 4, s. 17.

Sentencing — aggravating factor

(6) A court that imposes a sentence for an offence under subsection (3) shall consider as an aggravating factor evidence that bodily harm or death was caused to a person who, in the circumstances of the offence, was vulnerable to a lack of due care and attention or reasonable consideration by a driver, including by virtue of the fact that the person was a pedestrian or cyclist. 2017, c. 26, Sched. 4, s. 17.

This new section of law is certainly a lot longer and contains a lot more details…

WHAT’S DIFFERENT?

One of the biggest changes is the increase to penalties where the defendant has caused bodily harm or death to any person (oddly not specifically worded as bodily harm or death to any other person).  In such cases the range of fine increases dramatically to $2,000 to $50,000 (plus the 25% victim fine surcharge), imprisonment can now go up to 2 years, and suspension of licence can now go up to 5 years.  Bodily harm isn’t detailed to distinguish between a person with a bruised arm or a person hospitalized with multiple serious injuries.

Another major change is the following definition of what constitutes a lack of reasonable consideration:

(5) For the purposes of subsections (1) and (3), a person is deemed to drive without reasonable consideration for other persons using the highway if he or she drives in a manner that may limit his or her ability to prudently adjust to changing circumstances on the highway. 2017, c. 26, Sched. 4, s. 17.

The key wording of concern here is, “drives in a manner that may limit.”  This is an incredibly broad and generic condition to an already broad and generic section of the Highway Traffic Act.  The grounds for being charged and convicted don’t necessarily have to have been directly causal, they only need to have been potentially (“may”) responsible.  That certainly throws wide open the doors for new grounds under which a defendant could be charged and convicted of Careless Driving.

WHAT TO DO…

What do you do if you’re charged by the police with Careless Driving?  Careless Driving offences are serious charges with serious penalties.  As of September 1, 2018 they will become even more serious.  If you are charged, it is important to gather the necessary information that you will need to make informed important decisions that will effect your life for years to come.

OTD Legal Services can help you.  We provide a no cost, no obligation initial consultation to understand the basics of your case, assist you with information about the court process, and provide you with a flat-rate quote for legal services.  Our friendly staff can be reached via our toll-free number 1-844-647-6869 or by email at info@otdlegal.ca.

Posted under Careless Driving, Traffic Ticket Defence

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