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Our Ontario Ticket Defence Team Won’t Let a Careless Driving Charge Ruin Your Life

Careless Driving Ticket Overview

Careless Driving under the Highway Traffic Act is a very commonly issued charge. In many cases, a charge of Careless Driving involves a collision with other vehicles. However, this is not always the case. Erratic driving by speeding or a dangerous manoeuvre while driving may also generate a ticket for Careless Driving. The wording for the charge is purposely vague and wide to allow for the police to use this charge after an investigation to cover a variety of incidents.

Types of Careless Driving Offences

There are three main types of Careless Driving Offences, each with its own penalties:

  1. Careless driving ticket without an accident;
  2. Careless driving ticket with an accident;
  3. Careless driving ticket causing bodily harm or death.

Highway Traffic Act (HTA) Definition of Careless Driving

According to section 130 of the Highway Traffic Act:

“(1)Every person is guilty of the offence of driving carelessly who drives a vehicle or streetcar 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 streetcar 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.”

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Fight Your Careless Driving Ticket

If you are charged with Careless Driving, it is important to immediately seek out the information upon which to make some very important decisions. A poorly thought out or rash decision can have serious, life-altering consequences for years into the future. A legal misstep in the early stages of your defence can be the difference between a conviction, reaching a resolution to a lesser offence, or having the charge withdrawn or dismissed entirely at court. It is common to feel guilty or even angry when you receive this type of ticket. It is strongly recommended that you seek a professional opinion on what your options might be.

Hire a Lawyer or Paralegal for Help

Hiring a licensed paralegal to represent you at court will ensure that you are making informed decisions and avoiding legal missteps. It is also very possible that your matter will be resolved without the stress and anxiety of your having to attend court. 

Your paralegal is your legal voice, your advocate. They know the law and the court process and are there to fight for your best interests. They will provide you with legal advice throughout your case, ensuring that you are making informed decisions.

Fight Your Ticket in Court Alone

If you decide to fight your Careless Driving ticket alone, here is what you need to keep in mind:

  • You need to file a ticket with a court in order to receive a date with a prosecutor. 
  • It will take at least 2-3 court appearances in order to fight a Careless Driving ticket. For most people, this means taking time off from work.
  • You need to schedule a trial date with the appropriate court and prepare for it.
  • Keep in mind that you will be questioned about every fact from the date that you were caught driving carelessly. 
  • If you are late for court or miss an appearance, you will be convicted.
  • The court is adversarial and creates tension and stress often increasing the risk of making a mistake.

Court Process

Once you have retained a paralegal firm, that’s when the legal work starts.  One of the biggest benefits of hiring a paralegal is that they take care of the court filings and legal work for you.  A paralegal also knows exactly which prosecutor to speak with based on experience. Much of the system is considered to be subjective, meaning the experience of knowing the personality of a prosecutor or of a Justice of the Peace is very important. Often this makes the difference between success and failure.

Court Filings

If you have received a ticket, that ticket will need to be filed correctly with the court and then it will be necessary to follow up with the court staff to ensure that the filing has been processed correctly.  It is important to note that you have 15 days to respond to the ticket. If you are late, you risk being convicted for not responding.

If you are in the middle of a reopening or an appeal, that paperwork will need to be drafted by your legal representatives and then properly filed with the appropriate courts and offices.

If you have been issued a summons, your offence notice will already have a first appearance court date set that your paralegal will attend for you. You should expect to see many court dates as your matter moves through the system. It is extremely rare for a matter to be completed on the first court date.

Resolution Meeting

Once your paralegal has obtained the prosecutor’s evidence or any necessary court transcripts, your paralegal will meet with the prosecutor on your behalf.  This meeting is referred to as a resolution meeting.  The two sides will review the evidence and discuss the legal merits of that evidence to, first of all, determine whether or not the charge(s) can be withdrawn.  If there is a strong legal argument that the charge(s) would be dismissed at trial, the best resolution is to argue to simply have the charge(s) withdrawn without the need for trial.

If the Prosecutor’s evidence is sufficient for them to proceed to trial, the next step would be for the two sides to discuss potential issues.  If the evidence against you could reasonably lead to a conviction at trial, your paralegal will negotiate within your written instructions to get you the best resolution possible.

Trial

If no mutually agreeable resolution can be reached, then your case may either need to be argued at trial or it may be necessary to engage in further resolution meetings.  

Trials can be very stressful for self-represented defendants.  They generally don’t know the law or the court process.  They have to face off in the courtroom against an experienced and trained prosecutor.  Self-represented defendants may expose themselves up to being a witness that can be cross-examined by the prosecutor.  Statistically, the end results are generally poor for persons who choose to represent themselves.  The idea of having to appear before a Justice of the Peace or questioning the police officer that charged them may be very intimidating and stressful.

Careless Driving Ticket Penalties

In Ontario, there are two ways that a Careless Driving offence can be issued. 

The first is by getting what most people would refer to as a ‘ticket.’ These are simpler matters that are prosecuted by a Municipal or MTO Prosecutor. These tickets are called Part 1 matters and have a set fine amount on the ticket.

The second means of being charged is by way of a summons. These matters are prosecuted by a Provincial Crown Prosecutor or an MTO Prosecutor depending on whether or not the driver is a commercial motor vehicle driver. These cases generally go through more court appearances and carry much greater penalties. They are known as Part 3 matters and have no indicated fine amount. The fines are decided in court in front of a Justice of the Peace or Judge. These fines are usually thousands of dollars.

If you have been charged with careless driving, you could face some or all of the following penalties:   

  • A court fine
  • Licence Suspension
  • Imprisonment
  • Demerit Points
  • CVOR Points
  • A significant insurance increase or simply being uninsurable

Generally, the more severe your offence is, the more severe the penalties that you will be facing.  

Court Fine

A ticket lists the basic information about the offence along with a fixed fine. The base set fine is $400 but comes out to a total of $490 once the victim fine surcharge is added in.

A simple Careless Driving offence carries a total-payable fine ranging between $490.00 and $2,500.00.

If the Careless Driving offence involved bodily harm or death, the total-payable fine can range between $2,500.00 and $62,500.00. 

Demerit Points

Careless Driving tickets carry a penalty of 6 demerit points, whether it was issued as a ticket or by summons.

Licence Suspension

One of the worst possible consequences for a driver is to have their licence suspended. The ability to drive is integral to the day-to-day responsibilities of modern life whether you live rurally in a large city.  The suspension will appear independently on your driving record and usually increases your insurance rate significantly.

A suspension can occur due to accumulating too many demerit points for your class of driver’s licence.  A suspension will also occur due to having a G1 class licence or G2 class licence and receiving a conviction for any single offence carrying 4 or more demerit points.

If charged by Summons, you could lose your licence for up to 5 years.

Imprisonment

If convicted by Summons, the court may issue a term of imprisonment up to 6 months.  In cases where the Careless Driving offence involved bodily harm or death,  you could face imprisonment of up to 2 years.

CVOR Points

A conviction for Careless Driving can result in a 5 CVOR point penalty

Consequences for Novice Drivers

Novice drivers are drivers with a G1, G2, M1, or M2 licence. These licences are more fragile than a full licence. They allow for fewer demerit points to be accumulated before a warning, interview, or suspension is issued by the MTO. They are also subject to the following escalated sanctions penalties in the event of a conviction of an offence that carries 4 or more demerit points:

  • 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.

Consequences for Commercial Motor Vehicle Drivers

Commercial motor vehicle drivers such as transport truck drivers can be hit especially hard by a Careless Driving charge. Given the size and weight of a transport truck along with the value of the vehicle and cargo, a collision can result in greater injuries and greater financial losses. 

In addition to the demerit points, fines, insurance costs, imprisonment, and suspension of driver’s licence that are at the court’s discretion, commercial motor vehicle drivers also have to worry about CVOR points. A conviction for Careless Driving can result in a 5 CVOR point penalty, termination of employment, and difficulty in finding new employment.

Insurance Rates Costs

A conviction for Careless Driving can also result in being placed on high-risk insurance. Your insurance broker is your most reliable source of information on the potential impact of a conviction. 

Generally, they will consider the severity of the new offence along with your driving history in calculating their risk assessment and your insurance rate.  If the risk assessment is high, your current insurance policy may be cancelled and you will be required to seek out high-risk insurance.  

The more offences on your driving record and the greater the severity of those offences, the greater the expense of obtaining automobile insurance.  Once your risk assessment reaches a certain point, you will no longer qualify for standard insurance coverage and will have to seek out high-risk insurance coverage that is very expensive to obtain.  In many cases, this results in a loss of ability to drive.

Driving Record

Your driving record can be impacted by a number of factors, such as convictions, demerit points or licence suspensions.

Have You Been Charged With Careless Driving In Ontario?

If you’ve been charged with careless driving in Ontario you should contact us as soon as possible. We have skill and experience in helping drivers just like you respond to accusations of careless driving and provide free, confidential consultations to empower you to fight your charges. We help drivers throughout Ontario including Cambridge, Georgetown, London, Windsor and from our home office in Kitchener. Contact us online or call us directly at 1.844.647.6869 or text us a copy of your ticket to 226.240.2480.