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.