Driving is a privilege not a right, and improper behaviour while behind the wheel of a vehicle may cause you to face consequences in a number of situations. For example, inattentiveness or inconsideration of other motorists on a highway could cause you to face a charge of careless driving. This is a broad charge that can be applied to various driving scenarios, from being involved in a serious high-speed collision to a minor traffic concern.
Careless Driving (under section 130 of the Highway Traffic Act) states:
“Every person is guilty of the offence of driving carelessly who drives a vehicle or street car on a highway without due care and attention or without reasonable consideration for other persons using the highway and on conviction 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 licence or permit may be suspended for a period of not more than two years.”
The Justice of the Peace must be satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that you drove the vehicle on a highway without due care and attention or without reasonable consideration for other people using the highway.
The charge of careless driving is found at section 130 of the Ontario Highway Traffic Act. It is a strict liability offence. This means that the Crown must only prove that you committed the alleged act—that you drove the vehicle on the highway without due care and attention or without reasonable consideration for other persons using the highway. The Crown does not have to prove a mens rea element of the charge—more simply, the Crown does not have to show that you intended to commit this offence. However, it is open to you to avoid liability under this charge to prove that you took all reasonable care in the circumstances. In making this determination, you would need to show that your conduct is what the average careful driver would have done in similar circumstances. Contact our office to meet with us, so that you can share the details of what lead to your charge and explore what defences may have available to you to fight this charge. We will request the Disclosure package from the Crown Attorney to find out more details about your situation, including any police officer notes and witness statements, to assist you in this process.
ISSUING A CHARGE
A careless driving charge may be issued under Part I or Part III of the Provincial Offences Act. Under Part I, the police officer will issue you a ticket whereas under Part III, you will be issued a Summons, requiring your attendance in court. In the latter case, the penalty is more severe... Even if you have been issued a ticket under Part I (the fine will be printed on the ticket), you still have the option of going to court to fight the ticket/charge.
The penalties for a conviction of careless driving are severe. You could have to pay a fine of between $400 to $2,000 dollars, go to jail or be under house arrest for a period of up to six months, have your licence suspended for up to two years, or some combination of the above sentencing options. Additionally, there is a victim fine surcharge based on the amount of your fine and which is stated in the Regulations of the Provincial Offences Act. For example, if your fine is $400, then the surcharge is an additional $85.
If you are convicted of this offence (paying the ticket fine is still a conviction), you will receive 6 demerit points on your driving record and you will likely face higher premiums for your auto insurance or your insurance company may even cancel your existing policy.. If you are a novice driver (ex. hold a G1 or G2 licence) this means that your driver’s licence may be suspended as you will likely be scheduled for an interview with the Ministry of Transportation to discuss your driving record and you will have to explain why your licence should not be suspended. You will have to pay an additional $50.00 for this interview and failure to do so will result in your licence being cancelled. If you have a full licence (ex. G licence) with no demerit points, then a conviction of careless driving will cause you to receive a warning letter. However, if this conviction will cause you have between 9 to 14 demerit points, then you will face the same consequences as a novice driver. A fully licenced driver who has accumulated over 15 demerit points will automatically have their licence suspended for 30 days and will need to surrender their licence for that time period or risk losing their licence for up to two years.
If you have been charged with the offence of careless driving, call our office as soon as possible to see how we can best assist you.