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Icy Roads In Ontario and the Law

Ontario has seen some incredibly dangerous weather this winter.  Temperatures have fluctuated wildly above and below the freezing mark leading to freezing rain, icy roads, and very dangerous road conditions.  This has lead to many Ontarians finding themselves sliding off the road, becoming involved in collisions, and being charged by the police.  What are some of the most common charges that you need to be aware of?  What are the consequences of a conviction for court penalties, licencing, and insurance?

Let’s take a look!

What Are The Most Common Problems For Driving On Icy Roads?

Snowy or icy roads means reduced traction for vehicles.  Whether you are a mom or dad heading to work or bringing the kids to school, or whether you are a professional truck driver hauling a load of expensive (or even dangerous) commercial goods…hazardous road conditions can turn an ordinary day into a nightmare of property/vehicle damage, injuries, insurance or licencing problems, and legal problems.

Once a vehicle loses traction with the road, it become a projectile.  That can mean sliding into an intersection or off the road.  It can also mean running into a pedestrian or another vehicle. This can lead to being charged by the police and facing court penalties, licencing problems, and insurance increases.

The charges that can be issued by the police can range wildly from small, minor offences up to serious offences that could result in life-long consequences.  A conviction could result if a court fine of the thousands of dollars, a suspension of licence, imprisonment, a record of conviction, as well as either having your insurance increased or cancelled.  Commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers could also face loss of employment and difficulty in finding new employment.

Let’s take a look at some of the more common offences that could occur.

What if I Slide Through An Intersection?

This scenario is fairly common after freezing rain under icy road conditions:  you’re approaching a stop sign or red light, you apply the breaks, but the vehicle keeps sliding out of your control and into the intersection.  Hopefully not hitting anyone or anything.  This could lead to being charged with one of the following offences

These are incredibly dangerous situations that can quickly change an ordinary day into injuries and damages that result in lifelong consequences.  Worst case, they could lead to a fatality and enormous legal and financial liabilities.

These charges are some of the more simple, minor offences that could be issued in these circumstances.  The total fine that is owed to the court is comprised of the fine issued by the court plus a victim fine surcharge.  The standard court fines for these offences are as follows: 

Offence

Set Fine

Total Fine

Red Light Fail to Stop

$260.00

$325.00

Amber Light Fail to Stop

$150.00

$180.00

Disobey Lane Light

$85.00

$110.00

Disobey Stop Sign

$85.00

$110.00

Fail to Yield to Traffic on Through Road

$85.00

$110.00

Fail to Yield from Private Road

$85.00

$110.00

On top of the fine, a record of conviction would be registered against your driver’s licence with the following demerit point penalties:   

Offence

Demerit Points

Red Light Fail to Stop

3

Amber Light Fail to Stop

3

Disobey Lane Light

0

Disobey Stop Sign

3

Fail to Yield to Traffic on Through Road

3

Fail to Yield from Private Road

3

Commercial motor vehicle drivers, such as those who drive transport trucks for a living, can also face CVOR point penalties as follows:

Offence

CVOR Points

Red Light Fail to Stop

5

Amber Light Fail to Stop

3

Disobey Lane Light

5

Disobey Stop Sign

3

Fail to Yield to Traffic on Through Road

5

Fail to Yield from Private Road

5

It is important to note that CVOR point penalties go as high as 5 CVOR points for the most serious offences that a CMV driver can be issued.  This can lead to some complex legal scenarios where an offence like Disobey Lane Light might carry 0 demerit points but also carry 5 CVOR points.  While such an offence would result in a record of conviction with no demerit points, it also carries the highest possible consequence for the CVOR and may result in termination of employment.  An experienced and licenced paralegal can help guide you through these issues to protect both your personal and professional interests.

What is Careless Driving?

Careless Driving, under Highway Traffic Act section 130, is an incredibly serious charge to be issued by the police.  There are two types of Careless Driving offences that can be issued:  

Careless driving

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.

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.

Both sections would carry 6 demerit points upon conviction.  Commercial motor vehicle drivers could also face the maximum 5 CVOR point penalty.  Where the two versions of Careless Driving offences vary greatly is in their potential court penalties.

The simpler version of Careless Driving carries the following court penalties:  

(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 offences that involve death or bodily harm under HTA s.130(3) carry a much higher range of court 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.

it is important to keep in mind that these base court fines are also subject to the victim fine surcharge:  

Fine Range ($)

Surcharge ($)

0-50

10

51-75

15

76-100

20

101-150

25

151-200

35

201-250

50

251-300

60

301-350

75

351-400

85

401-450

95

451-500

110

501-1000

125

Over 1000

25% of actual fine

Can Transport Trucks Use The Inside Lane on an Ontario Highway?

Transport truck drivers can face a lot of pressure to deliver their cargo on time.  Pressure from their employer and pressure from the customer waiting for their delivery.  Bad weather conditions can mean that highway traffic becomes slowed or even completely stopped.  It is tempting to see that the inside lane of the highway is open or moving quicker, and wanting to pull into that lane to make up time.  However, Ontario Regulation 608, schedule 3, section 1(1) states that:

1. (1) Subject to subsection (2), no person shall operate a commercial motor vehicle or any combination of a commercial motor vehicle and a towed vehicle that exceeds 6.5 metres in length, except a bus, an ambulance or a fire apparatus, in the left lane or, where the left lane has been designated as a high occupancy vehicle lane, in the lane adjacent to the high occupancy vehicle lane of those portions of a highway described in the Schedules. R.R.O. 1990, Reg. 608, s. 1 (1); O. Reg. 619/05, s. 1 (1); O. Reg. 201/16, s. 1.

(2) Subsection (1) does not apply to a commercial motor vehicle engaged in maintenance or construction or where an emergency requires the use of the lane by a commercial motor vehicle. R.R.O. 1990, Reg. 608, s. 1 (2); O. Reg. 619/05, s. 1 (2).

Prohibited Use of Left Lane on King’s Highway” is a surprisingly bad charge for commercial motor vehicle drivers.  While it carries no demerit points and a relatively minor $110.00 total-payable court fine, it also carries 5 CVOR points.  Quickly pulling into the inside lane on the highway to make up lost time on a delivery could result in job loss and difficulty in finding new employment in the industry.

What Should I Do if I Get Charged by the Police?

These charges are only a fraction of the possible offences that can be issued to an Ontario driver for mishaps during bad winter weather.  Each has its own court penalties, demerit points, CVOR points, and impact to your insurance.  Simply paying a fine is entering a guilty plea to your original offence and doing so without knowing the consequences of that conviction is a dangerous and blind gamble.  Unexpectedly losing your driver’s licence to a suspension could have an enormous impact to your personal, family, and work obligations.  Having your insurance policy cancelled and being forced onto high-risk insurance could result in years of extremely expensive insurance costs.  Truck drivers could unexpectedly be terminated from their employment over what appeared to be a minor infraction (did you know that speeding at 21 km/h or more has the same CVOR points as Careless Driving?).

It is important that you know what you’ve been charged with and to gather the necessary information that you will need to make informed decisions.  A legal misstep or a misunderstanding or the court process at the start of your defence can have serious legal repercussions resulting in an unnecessary conviction or a poorer outcome.  Put a licenced and experienced paralegal in the court room on your behalf to ensure you are making informed decisions and protecting your legal interests.  While the court process can seem overwhelming and intimidating, most cases can be resolved by your paralegal without requiring you to attend court or file any court documents.

If you have been charged by the police, our friendly staff are here to help you.  We offer a no-cost, no-obligation initial consultation and can go through most case details in as little as 5 to 10 minutes over the telephone with you.  We can be reached via our toll-free number 1-844-647-6869, by text at 226-240-2480, or by email at info@otdlegal.ca.  You can also submit an online consultation request any time of day or night and one of our staff will contact you during regular business hours to assist you.

Posted under Careless Driving, CVOR Points, Demerit Points, Follow Too Closely

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