Today, we’ll clarify the distinctions between reckless driving, careless driving, and stunt driving in the context of Ontario traffic offenses.

1. Reckless Driving:

  • Not an Ontario Offense: Reckless driving is a term commonly used but isn’t recognized as an offense in Ontario or under Canadian criminal code legislation.
  • Origin: The phrase is often borrowed from the United States, particularly neighboring states like New York or Michigan.

2. Careless Driving:

  • Offense under Highway Traffic Act: Careless driving is a legitimate offense under the Ontario Highway Traffic Act.
  • Severity: While not a criminal offense, it is a significant offense and can lead to serious consequences.
  • Typical Scenarios: Careless driving charges often stem from driving behaviors that result in accidents, property damage, or personal injury.

3. Stunt Driving:

  • Offense under Highway Traffic Act: Stunt driving is recognized as an offense under the Ontario Highway Traffic Act.
  • Common Trigger: Speeding is a prevalent factor leading to stunt driving charges.
  • Distinct from Careless Driving: Stunt driving charges are generally associated with specific driving actions, such as burnouts or slides, often resulting from excessive speed.


Key Takeaway:

  • Reckless driving is not a recognized offense in Ontario.
  • Careless driving usually involves driving behaviors leading to accidents or injury.
  • Stunt driving often results from high-speed violations and specific driving actions.


In summary, while these terms may be colloquially interchanged, they represent distinct offenses in the legal context. If faced with any of these charges, seeking professional advice, such as a free consultation from OTD Legal, is recommended to understand the specific nature of your case and potential defense strategies.


Video Transcription:

I am here today to answer a question, which is, what is the difference between reckless driving, careless driving, and stunt driving? Let me first focus on the charge of reckless driving. Reckless driving is not an offense known to any Ontario legislation or Canadian criminal code legislation. That particular phraseology we would call it, is generated from our proximity to United States whether that be New York or Michigan.

We are so close to those states that, and we are there so often we have friends and family that go back and forth across those borders. You often hear this word reckless or words, reckless driving. There are no offenses in Ontario or Canada for that matter of reckless driving. It’s what I’ll call a euphemism or an overworked phrase for charges involving a motor vehicle, which could be careless. Sometimes it’s even confused with stunt driving.

I wanted to define exactly for my clients or anyone who, who chooses to listen to this particular vehicle, what that difference is. So to recap and put that issue to bed, there is no offense known in Ontario of reckless driving. Usually what I found over 40 years of doing this type of work is that there’s a common confusion between reckless driving and careless driving. So once investigated, once I’ve conducted an interview with the client, I usually determine that it’s careless driving.

Careless driving is an offense. It’s not a criminal offense. However, it’s under the Highway Traffic Act of Ontario. It’s a significant offense. It’s arguably one of the most difficult offenses or the most scary offenses under the Highway Traffic Act. Certainly an offense that you’re going to need some professional help with. That particular offense really deals with, in most cases, some type of driving behavior.

I would say 98% of the time that has to deal with an accident. There’s some sort of event that deals with property damage, it deals with personal injury. There are events, there’s a, a protracted series of events, some improper, turns, speeding, culminating in this offense, known in Ontario in the Highway Traffic Act as careless driving.

People confuse recently careless driving and stunt driving. They are distinct, in most cases, there is for stunt driving, for example, there is an element of driving. So that may be you’ve lost traction with your vehicle and you’ve caused some sort of a noise, you were, you’re in the process of turning and you’ve done sort of a, a burnout or a slide out that could be considered stunt driving. But that’s all it would be. You’re not going to see a careless driving charge evolve from that sort of a factual scenario. You would, speeding is generally the most common way that a client would be walking in or calling this firm. Speeding is probably the most common generator of a stunt driving ticket here in Ontario. So the best answer to the question is how you keep the three of those things distinct is probably to call a company such as ours and ask, you know,I’ve been charged with this. You, you can read the ticket or the summons, and it’s going to tell you, is it careless driving or is it stunt driving?

So the answer is going to be, you’re not going to read on, on the ticket or summons reckless driving. You will read careless driving or stunt driving. Different but both very serious. And I would recommend you reach out to OTD Legal and get a free consultation.

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