Fines and Penalties for Following Too Closely in Ontario

Following too closely is a common traffic offence in Ontario, carrying significant fines and demerit points. Understanding the special cases of this charge, including scenarios that lead to it and the consequences of a conviction is important.

 

Common Scenarios Leading to Charges

Accidents at Traffic Lights

The most frequent instance of a following too closely charge happens from accidents, particularly at traffic lights. For example, when a vehicle fails to stop in time and rear-ends a stopped vehicle, the driver of the moving vehicle may be charged. The key elements considered in such cases include the time, speed, and distance between the vehicles prior to the collision.

Observed by a Police Officer

Another scenario involves being directly observed by a police officer. In this case, the officer can testify about the speed of the vehicles, the distance between the cars, and the duration for which they were too close, sometimes providing strong evidence for a conviction.

Evidence and Conviction

For a conviction, the prosecution must present concrete evidence of the vehicles moving closely together at a specific speed and within a certain distance. In many accident-related cases, the lack of direct evidence regarding speed and distance may lead to the dismissal of charges, especially when the only evidence is the outcome of the collision itself.

Implications of a Conviction

A conviction under Section 158 of the Highway Traffic Act results in:

  • A fine of $110
  • Four Demerit Points
  • Novice / G1 & G2 Drivers:  a conviction not only incurs fines and points but can also result in a minimum 30-day licence suspension.

Legal Defence

Successfully defending against a following too closely charge often involves challenging the evidence related to time, speed, and distance. Experienced legal representation can identify weaknesses in the prosecution’s case, such as the lack of direct evidence, leading to charge dismissals or reduced penalties.

Conclusion

Following too closely is a serious charge in Ontario with significant fines, demerit points, and the possibility of increased insurance premiums. Understanding the legal framework and having a skilled defence is essential for those charged with this offence.

Need Legal Assistance?

If you’re facing a charge for following too closely or are concerned about the implications of traffic offences on your driving record and insurance rates, OTD Legal is here to help. Our expert team can provide the guidance and representation you need to navigate these challenges. Contact us today at OTD Legal for professional legal assistance and support.

 

Video Transcription:

I’m going to talk to you today about fines and penalties for following too closely in Ontario. I’m going to give you two common scenarios when this charge shows up at one of my offices. So the first example is and probably the most common example is, is an accident. And in that accident let’s say there’s a vehicle out of traffic light and it’s come to a and the next vehicle that comes along behind does not stop in time and rear ends that vehicle. We’re talking about seconds, okay? A very short period of time. And in that scenario, there’s two, two drivers. One, the stopped vehicle and the other vehicle who was charged with falling too closely. Now, technically, they were driving down the road together. The one arrived at the traffic light first, stopped. The other one failed to do so and there is some sort of collision, minor collision and, and as a result of an accident investigation, the officer takes a look and says, well, you were simply falling too close. Here’s your ticket. In that particular case, the evidence of that accident is significant.

It’s significant in creating a defense to help that particular person who was charged. So, in order to prove that case, You would need, or the Crown would need, evidence that the two vehicles were moving along together, and the, and they were, they were within you know, I’d say a car length of each other and they were going a certain speed.

So basically what I’m telling you is time, speed and distance are all things that would need to be included in the evidence in order to support that conviction. So to be conviction, to be convicted, you would need to hear that evidence in the courtroom. In the particular scenario that I’ve told you about, you have a vehicle that stopped at light, looks ahead, and then bang, feels a bump from behind.

In that particular scenario, the driver of that vehicle cannot provide any evidence of how close the second vehicle was, cannot provide any evidence of the speed of that vehicle, or how close it may have been following that vehicle. And in those types of scenarios, and there are many of them, the reality is that case cannot be proven.

And when those cases cannot be proven the result is that the charge is dismissed. Many astute prosecutors, once we’ve identified for them that this is what’s going on and they do not have any evidence to support the charge, will withdraw. In the cases where they’re not sure and they do run that evidence, there would not be a conviction.

The second type of violation is a little different. That would be two vehicles driving down the road and now those vehicles are being observed by a professional witness, such as a police officer. That police officer is in a position to view what speed those vehicles are going, the distance between those two vehicles, and for how long those vehicles were that close.

And in that case, there is very good evidence that of a follow to close charge. And if believed in a courtroom, there would be an obvious conviction. If there was a conviction, it would be under Section 158 of the Highway Traffic Act. The fine for that particular offence is 110 with costs. However, there are four demerit points for that particular offense.

Four demerit points often cause a lot of harm to insurance rates leading to higher rates and stress among clients if this were to happen. If you were a novice driver, novice drivers have a very limited number of points. And if a novice driver, for example, got four points from that type of a conviction, they would also face not only the fines points, but they would also experience a 30 day license suspension, which would be identified on their abstract or record.

And if that’s seen on their record, the suspension and the conviction count as two separate things and that escalates insurance rates significantly, and in many cases, results in that particular defendant not being able to drive because they simply can no longer afford the insurance.

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