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How to Fight a Careless Driving Offence

Careless Driving offences are one of the most serious charges that can be issued by the police.  The vast majority of these charges are issued to drivers who had no intention of driving in a purposefully careless manner.  The unexpected movement of other traffic or unforeseen road conditions can quickly lead to a collision and the police issuing an offence notice.  Careless Driving charges can carry severe court penalties as well as have a large impact to licencing and insurance costs.

Let’s take a look!

WHAT ARE CARELESS DRIVING CHARGES?

Careless driving offences can be issued anywhere from the manner in which a single motor vehicle is driven through to a collision involving injury or fatality.  Careless Driving offences fall under section 130 of the Highway Traffic Act(HTA).  The wording of this section of law is very brief and general and can be issued under one of two sections depending on whether or not there was bodily harm or death involved:

“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.”

Or:

“(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.”

Think of how broadly the phrase “without due care and attention or without reasonable consideration” could apply to your daily driving.  Was running an amber light rather than stopping careless?  Did you not see a pedestrian crossing the road until the last second causing them to stop walking?  Have you slid on wet or icy roads even though you thought you were driving slow enough?  Any of these scenarios could be considered Careless Driving under the law.

Here’s a few examples from the recent news here in Ontario:

Whether young or old, a transport truck driver with a load of steel, or a single parent driving their kids to school, these charges tend to come quickly and unexpectedly often turning the defendant’s world upside down for years to come.

WHAT ARE THE PENALTIES?

Generally the penalties will depend on two factors.  The first factor is whether you are charged by way of a regular ticket or whether you are issued a summons.  Simple tickets go to a Municipal Prosecutor while charges issued by way of a summons go to a Provincial Crown Prosecutor and carry greater potential court penalties.  The second factor is whether the incident involved any injury or fatality.

Section 130(2) of the HTA lists penalties for charges not involving injury or death as follows:

“(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.”

For matters involving an injury or fatality, HTA section 130(4) lists the following greater penalties:

“(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.”

Let’s break this information down into each of the possible combinations.  

Tickets that proceed under a Municipal Prosecutor do not carry jail time or licence suspension from the court.  Upon conviction the court will generally issue a total-payable fine of $490.00.  While these cases still carry significant impact to licencing and insurance costs, the actual court penalty is relatively minor.

A summons that proceeds under a Provincial Crown Prosecutor carries significantly greater potential court penalties.  When the court issues a fine, there are two components.  The first is the actual fine issued by the court and the second portion is the mandatory victim fine surcharge.  In cases without injury or fatality, the total-payable fine can range between $490.00 and $2,500.00.  If the defendant has been charged with Careless Driving involving injury or fatality, then the total-payable fine can range between $2,500.00 and $62,500.00.  These are significantly higher fines that could be devastating to an average Ontarian.

Further, charges issued by way of a summons can result in up to 6 months imprisonment for non-injury cases and up to two years of imprisonment for matters that have been charged with having involved injury or fatality.  These cases can also have the court suspend the defendant’s driver’s licence for up to two years for non-jury cases and up to five years for those involving injury or death.

All of these offences carry 6 demerit points upon conviction and generally result in being classed as a ‘high risk’ driver for insurance.  Prohibitively high insurance costs could potentially take a driver off the road longer than any court or MTO imposed suspension.

Novice driver’s (i.e. G1 or G2 licences) also face further penalties if convicted under the MTO’s escalated sanctions penalties as follows:

  • 30-day licence suspension for the first occurrence
  • 90-day licence suspension for the second occurrence
  • Licence cancellation and a requirement to re-apply for a G1/M1 after the third occurrence. Any fees paid, credit received for time spent in the program or BDE credit would be forfeited when the licence is cancelled. Please note that in the case of a hybrid driver, only the novice-class licence is cancelled on the third occasion; their full-class licence is maintained.

COMMERCIAL MOTOR VEHICLE DRIVERS AND CARELESS DRIVING

Commercial motor vehicle drivers such as transport truck drivers or dump truck drivers are especially at risk with a charge of Careless Driving.  Beyond the regular penalties that they would receive as the driver of the vehicle, a Careless Driving offence can carry a 5 CVOR point penalty upon conviction.  This is the highest possible CVOR point penalty that can be issued by the MTO and can render the driver unemployable in the transportation industry.

WHAT TO DO?

If you have been charged by the police with Careless Driving, it is important to find out what your legal options are as quickly as possible.  Failing to respond to the court will result in a conviction leaving you with fewer legal options and consequences that can impact your life for years to come.  OTD Ticket Defenders Legal Services is happy to assist you with a no-cost, no-obligation initial consultation.  Our friendly staff can be reached via our toll-free number 1-844-647-6869, email at info@otdlegal.ca, or via text at 226-240-2480.

Posted under Careless Driving, Traffic Ticket Defence

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