How To Get A Careless Driving Ticket Dismissed In Ontario

Facing a careless driving charge in Ontario, especially in the context of an accident, can be a daunting experience. To navigate this situation effectively and increase the chances of dismissal or reduction, consider the following strategies:

1. Understand Careless Driving as an “Umbrella Charge”:

  • Broad Application: Careless driving is often referred to as an “umbrella charge” because it covers a wide range of driving mistakes.
  • Overused Nature: In accident situations, it is frequently used, sometimes arguably overused, due to its simplicity for law enforcement.

2. Overcharging and Crown’s Strategy:

  • Simplifies the Process: Police officers may issue careless driving charges without thorough investigation, expecting drivers to either pay the ticket or negotiate a reduction.
  • Potential Weakness: The Crown’s willingness to negotiate or reduce the charge can indicate their recognition of potential weaknesses in proving the case.

3. Potential for Reduction or Withdrawal:

  • Negotiation Opportunities: Careless driving charges may be negotiable, and the Crown might agree to a reduced charge or even withdrawal based on the strength of the evidence.
  • Assessment of Evidence: Legal representatives, like those at OTD Legal, can assess the evidence to determine whether it’s advisable to push for a trial or consider accepting a reduced charge.

4. Consideration of Alternative Charges:

  • Seriousness of Driving Behavior: If the driving behavior is significantly poor and dangerous, the Crown might pursue more serious charges like dangerous driving, which would go to criminal court.
  • Evaluating the Evidence: Understanding the evidence and circumstances can help in determining the appropriate strategy, whether to challenge the charge or negotiate a reduction.

5. Assessment of Trial Viability:

  • Informed Decision: Representatives need to be satisfied that running a trial is a viable option and in the client’s best interest.
  • Client Consultation: Clear communication with the client about the evidence, potential trial outcomes, and the feasibility of securing a dismissal or reduction.

6. Professional Consultation:

  • Legal Expertise: Seek consultation with legal professionals, such as OTD Legal, to assess the specifics of your case, potential defenses, and negotiation opportunities.
  • Empowerment Through Knowledge: Understanding your options empowers you to make informed decisions about your defense strategy.


Key Takeaway:

  • Recognize careless driving as a broad charge.
  • Understand the Crown’s strategy in overcharging.
  • Explore negotiation opportunities based on evidence.
  • Consider alternative charges and their implications.
  • Assess the viability of a trial based on evidence.
  • Seek professional consultation for tailored guidance.


Navigating a careless driving charge requires careful consideration of the circumstances, evidence, and negotiation opportunities. Professional consultation can provide valuable insights and empower you to make informed decisions tailored to your case. Contact OTD Legal for a free consultation today.


Video Transcription:

I’m going to talk to you today about careless driving, and I’m gonna talk to you today about it in very general terms because one of the most common questions that I am faced with, or my staff is faced with is: “how to get a careless driving charge dismissed in Ontario”.

In order to answer that question, we do need to go over a little bit of background with respect to really what careless driving is all about. We’ll talk today about careless driving as it relates to accident charges. So we’ve all seen accidents, we’ve all driven by them. Some of us unfortunately have been in them, and some of us have also been charged with something called careless driving. In another video, you’ll hear me talk about that and the seriousness of that charge.

But for today, I want to talk about the charge itself in that type of situation. Careless driving. I’ve often described over the last 40, 50 years as being what I call an umbrella charge. Why I say umbrella charge is because it covers the widest variety of mistakes that anyone could make, and they import that into a simple, quick and easy charge called careless driving.

Very scary charge for someone facing it. But it’s important to know that it’s widely used and arguably overused in these situations for, for a couple of reasons. So, when a young or new police officer, or even a seasoned veteran police officer, male, female, whatever, arrives at an accident situation, they normally are gonna look to the vehicle behind, and they’re gonna charge that person.

They know that in most cases, before they ever arrive. You’re not gonna be able to talk your way out of it. You’re gonna get this charge. This charge in that manner, I would say is overcharging someone. The reason they do that is because it makes it simple and easy for them. They know that this type of charge is a manageable charge.

It does one of two things. It scares people and they simply pay the ticket, which makes their lives easier. Or they know that the crown or prosecutor would be amenable or agreeable, to reducing that to something else. It should also be noted that when the Crown is willing to reduce it, that they know that they have a weakness.

They know that it is not the easiest charge in the world to prove. I was a Crown prosecutor for many years, almost two decades. I know in these situations that it’s not as simple as charging someone with careless driving, and it’s gonna be easy. Bear in mind that if the driving was so significantly poor, there are other charges that would go into the criminal courts and that would be dangerous driving.

Well, when you use careless driving on a minor accident, there are some significant challenges in being able to prove that and convince a judge that they’re going to be able to convict. So in most cases, the crown is agreeable to discussions and agreeable to maybe potentially considering a reduced charge.

In some cases, they’ll even agree to withdraw the charge based on my assessment of the evidence, or some of my senior staff will take a look at the evidence and decide whether or not there should be a conviction there or not. We, as your representatives, for example, have to be satisfied that I can safely say to you, it’s a good idea to run a trial here. This is a good idea. The advice is simple. We are going to accept this reduced charge. These are the things that we need to think about when you’re dealing with a careless driving charge in that type of an accident.

by | Apr 25, 2023

Ron Harper

Ron Harper

Ron Harper, owner of OTD Ticket Defenders Legal Services, is a former Ontario Prosecutor and Licensed Paralegal with over 40 years of experience in traffic offences.

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