Toronto Careless Driving Lawyer

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TORONTO CARELESS DRIVING LAWYER

There are a myriad of serious driving related offences in the Highway Traffic Act (HTA). Convictions under the HTA often include minimum penalties and serious insurance consequences. We specialize in defending serious HTA allegations including Criminal driving infractions such as driving with Over 80 mgs of alcohol and Impaired Driving. In the Criminal Law Group’s recent R. v. M.Z. [2014] it secured a full withdrawal of Impaired driving where the driver blew over 160 mgs and flipped the car into a ditch. It further secured a withdrawal of Impaired Driving in its recent R. v. K.C. [2015], where the female driver blew over 260 mgs and had open alcohol in the vehicle.

The Criminal Law Group generally only handles serious or complex HTA offence. It has often handled complex instances where one spouse is charged with impaired driving and the other spouse is simultaneously charged in the HTA with another infraction, such as allowing a motor vehicle to be operated without insurance. In the Criminal Law Group’s R. v. J.F. [2015], it successfully resolved the husband’s Impaired Driving allegation and secured a withdrawal of the HTA infraction against his wife in her R. v. V.P [2015].

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Difference between the Highway Traffic Act (HTA) and the Criminal Code?
What is Careless Driving?
What does the Prosecution have to Prove for a Conviction?
What are the Penalties for a Careless Driving Conviction?
What is Dangerous Driving?
What does the Crown have to Prove for a Dangerous Operation Conviction?
What are the Penalties for Dangerous Driving?
What is Stunt Driving and Street Racing?
What are the Penalties for a Stunt Driving Conviction?

What is the Difference between the Highway Traffic Act (HTA) and the Criminal Code? 

The Highway Traffic Act is a provincial statute that consists of regulatory offences. Comparatively, the Criminal Code is a federal statute that outlines true crimes. The Highway Traffic Act is part of the body of law called provincial regulatory statutes, which are meant to regulate the day-to-day lives of individuals. Generally, the offences are less serious and contain less serious penalties than offences contained under the Criminal Code.

However, the Highway Traffic Act does include some serious charges that could result in licence suspensions, hefty fines or even imprisonment. The Crown Attorney’s office prosecutes some offences under the Highway Traffic Act, as well as prosecuting crimes under the Criminal Code. It is important to understand what type of offence you are charged with and consult a lawyer about what it means.

What is Careless Driving?

Careless driving is a provincial regulatory offence set out in the Highway Traffic Act. Section 130 of the Highway Traffic Act sets out that an individual is guilty of careless driving if he or she drives a vehicle or street car on a highway without due care and attention or without reasonable consideration for other persons using the highway.

Simply put, the offence requires someone to be driving and do one of the following two things:

  1. Drive without due care and attention; or
  2. Drive without reasonable consideration for other persons using the highway.

What does the Prosecution have to Prove for a Conviction?

Careless driving is a strict liability offence. This means the Crown simply needs to prove that an accused person committed the act, not that he or she intended to. The Crown must prove the basic elements, like who, what, where, when and how. The Crown must prove that you committed the dangerous act beyond a reasonable doubt.

However, since it is strict liability the defendant has an opportunity to raise a defence of due diligence after the Crown has proven the violation occurred. An accused person can submit that they were driving with due diligence at the time the act occurred. For example, if you were trying to avoid hitting an animal and you swerved onto the wrong side of the road, the court would have to decide a reasonable person would swerve out of his or her lane of traffic to avoid hitting an animal. The standard to prove due diligence is a balance of probabilities. To successfully bring this defence, an accused person must show they did what any reasonable person would have done in the circumstances.

What are the Penalties for a Careless Driving Conviction?

Penalties for careless driving will vary depending on the circumstances of the offence. However, Section 130 of the Highway Traffic Act sets out that if convicted there is a minimum fine of $400.00, which can be increased up to a maximum of $2,000. Regulations also provide for a victim surcharge fine of 20-25% to be added to the fine. Convictions also carry with them a loss of six demerit points, which will stay on your record for two years from the offence date. Convictions may impact your insurance rates or ability to get insurance.

It is also possible to be punished with up to six months imprisonment, in addition to a fine.Last, it is further possible that a convicted person’s licence or permit will be suspended for a period of up to two years.With a conviction for careless driving, it is possible to have all three of these penalties (fine, imprisonment, licence suspension) imposed at the same time.

What is Dangerous Driving?

Dangerous driving is a crime under Section 249(1)(a) of the Criminal Code, which sets out that every one commits an offence who operates a motor vehicle in a manner that is dangerous to the public, having regard to all the circumstances, including:

  • The nature, condition and use of the place at which the motor vehicle is being operated; and
  • The amount of traffic that at the time is or might reasonably be expected to be at that place.

What does the Crown have to Prove for a Dangerous Operation Conviction?

Since dangerous operation is a true crime, the Crown must prove that the accused person committed (1) the dangerous act and (2) fault. Both of these elements must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. It differs from a conviction for careless driving because the Crown has the additional burden of providing the accused’s mental state beyond a reasonable doubt.

The standard for proving fault for a dangerous driving conviction is one of objective negligence. Case law sets out that this standard requires the Crown to prove the actions of the accused individual constituted a marked departure from what a reasonable person would do in the circumstances.

Therefore, to successfully prosecute an individual for dangerous driving the Crown must prove: (1) the accused committed the dangerous act; (2) his or her actions constituted a marked departure from what a reasonable person would do.

What are the Penalties for Dangerous Driving?

Penalties for a conviction of dangerous driving will vary depending on the specific circumstances of the offence, the characteristics of the offender and the presence of any aggravating or mitigating factors.

Section 249(2) of the Criminal Code sets out that a conviction of dangerous driving can result in a penalty of up to five years imprisonment when the Crown proceeds by indictment.

What is Stunt Driving and Street Racing?

Stunt driving and street racing are also offences under Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act. Section 172(1) sets out that “no person shall drive a motor vehicle on a highway in a race or contest, while performing a stunt or on a bet or wager.”

The Ontario provincial government has enacted Regulations that provide clarification about what constitutes stunt driving and street racing.

The regulations set out that street racing includes any of the following activities:

    1. Driving two or more motor vehicles at a rate of speed that is a marked departure from the lawful rate of speed and in a manner that indicates the drivers of the motor vehicles are engaged in a competition.
    2. Driving a motor vehicle in a manner that indicates an intention to chase another motor vehicle.
        1. Driving a motor vehicle at a rate of speed that is a marked departure from the lawful rate of speed,
        2. Outdistancing or attempting to outdistance one or more other motor vehicles while driving at a rate of speed that is a marked departure from the lawful rate of speed, or
        3. repeatedly changing lanes in close proximity to other vehicles so as to advance through the ordinary flow of traffic while driving at a rate of speed that is a marked departure from the lawful rate of speed.Driving a motor vehicle without due care and attention, without reasonable consideration for other persons using the highway or in a manner that may endanger any person by

The discretionary aspect of this offence lies in what constitutes a “marked departure from the lawful rate of speed.” The regulations set out that a marked departure means a rate of speed that may limit the ability of a driver of a motor vehicle to prudently adjust to changing circumstances on the highway.

The regulations set out that stunt driving includes any of the following activities:

  1. Driving a motor vehicle in a manner that indicates an intention to lift some or all of its tires from the surface of the highway.
  2. Driving a motor vehicle in a manner that indicates an intention to cause some or all of its tires to lose traction with the surface of the highway while turning.
  3. Driving a motor vehicle in a manner that indicates an intention to spin it or cause it to circle, without maintaining control over it.
  4. Driving two or more motor vehicles side by side or in proximity to each other, where one of the motor vehicles occupies a lane of traffic or other portion of the highway intended for use by oncoming traffic for a period of time that is longer than is reasonably required to pass another motor vehicle.
  5. Driving a motor vehicle with a person in the trunk of the motor vehicle.
  6. Driving a motor vehicle while the driver is not sitting in the driver’s seat.
  7. Driving a motor vehicle at a rate of speed that is 50 kilometres per hour or more over the speed limit.
  8. Driving a motor vehicle without due care and attention, without reasonable consideration for other persons using the highway or in a manner that may endanger any person by,
    1. Driving a motor vehicle in a manner that indicates an intention to prevent another vehicle from passing,
    2. Stopping or slowing down a motor vehicle in a manner that indicates the driver’s sole intention in stopping or slowing down is to interfere with the movement of another vehicle by cutting off its passage on the highway or to cause another vehicle to stop or slow down in circumstances where the other vehicle would not ordinarily do so,
    3. Driving a motor vehicle in a manner that indicates an intention to drive, without justification, as close as possible to another vehicle, pedestrian or fixed object on or near the highway, or
    4. Making a left turn where,
      1. The driver is stopped at an intersection controlled by a traffic control signal system in response to a circular red indication;
      2. At least one vehicle facing the opposite direction is similarly stopped in response to a circular red indication; and
      3. The driver executes the left turn immediately before or after the system shows only a circular green indication in both directions and in a manner that indicates an intention to complete or attempt to complete the left turn before the vehicle facing the opposite direction is able to proceed straight through the intersection in response to the circular green indication facing that vehicle.

The most common way to attract a “stunt driving” charge is by driving 50km over the speed limit. However, the above information clearly outlines that stunt driving covers a wide spectrum of potential driving activities.

As with other offences under the Highway Traffic Act, street racing and stunt driving are strict liability offences, meaning the Crown only needs to prove the accused individual committed the prohibited act. The Crown does not have to prove intention. It is then left to the accused to try and argue he was driving with due diligence at the time the act occurred.

What are the Penalties for a Stunt Driving Conviction?

Penalties for a stunt driving conviction will vary depending on the circumstances of the offence. However, Section 172 of the Highway Traffic Act sets out that if convicted there is a minimum fine of $2,000, which can be increased up to a maximum of $10,000. Also, it is important to note that if the police believe you have engaged in stunt driving the statute requires them to request the driver to surrender his licence and detain the vehicle until it is impounded. Once this request has been made, the driver’s licence will be suspended for seven days. A driver’s vehicle will be released from the impound facility upon expiration of the suspension.

It is also possible to be punished with up to six months imprisonment, in addition to a fine.Last, it is further possible that a convicted person’s licence or permit will be suspended for a period of up to two years for a first conviction and up to ten years for a subsequent conviction.

With a conviction for stunt driving it is possible to have all three of these penalties (fine, imprisonment, licence suspension) imposed at the same time, in addition to the initial suspension and impounding of your vehicle.

The Criminal Law Group has experienced defending a range of serious Highway Traffic Act violations, including having serious hit and run charges withdrawn. We thoroughly analyze police disclosure and scrutinize surveillance evidence.

416-DEFENCE | 416-333-3623

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