Inquiry:  I was stopped in line of the left turn lane at a red light in St. Catharines. About a dozen cars were in front of me. I had a safe distance between the car in front of me. I could see its tires on the pavement, enough room for me to pull out and pass without having to back up. I saw the light turn green, and a few seconds later the car in front of me released the brakes and rolled forward. I let off my brake and rolled forward. A moment later, the car in front slammed its brakes on. I hit my brakes and came to a stop with enough space for me to still see the license plate of the vehicle in front of me. A moment later, I was rear-ended hard and was pushed into the car in front of me.

We all got out of our vehicles. I checked my front end and the car I was hit into first. My car was fine. Her car had a small indentation from the screw of my front license plate. I checked my backend, and it was marked up with paint from the car that hit me. The car that hit me, hit me with such force that his air bag deployed. Because of the air bag deployment, the woman in the car in front of me called 911. While we were waiting, the driver who hit me stated to the driver of the car in front of me that he wasn’t paying attention and didn’t brake at all when he rear ended me.

An hour later an off duty firefighter came by us and was surprised that no emergency vehicles were on the scene yet. He radioed for fire, which showed up in less than 3 minutes. A few minutes later EMS arrived. Fire crews checked the cars for leaking fluids (none) and EMS checked me and the driver behind me. No problems. One hour after that (two hours after the collision) the officer arrived on the scene.

When the office arrived, the first thing the officer did was take our license, insurance and registration and return to her cruiser. A few minutes later the officer returned and told the woman driving the car I was hit into that she could leave now. The officer then returned to her cruiser. Minutes later the officer returned to speak to the other driver and myself together. The officer stated that we were both being charged with careless driving, handed us our tickets and told me that I could leave now. The other car needed to be towed away. I was shocked that the officer did not take any statements from any of us. At no point did the officer ask any of us what happened.

I do not believe that I should be charged at all. Not with following too close, let alone careless. I feel that I demonstrated that I was not following to close when I managed to come to a stop without hitting the car in front of me. The only reason that I hit the car in front was that the force I was hit with. Do I have a strong case?

Response:  Careless Driving charges are very serious offences carrying 6 demerit points.  The charge may be defensible, or at least be negotiable to a lesser offence.  However, we would have to have a release and review of the Prosecutor’s evidence before deciding how to best proceed in the matter. If you would like to speak with one of our staff about your matter, we offer a no-cost initial review of cases via our toll-free number 1-866-801-8299.

Greg Currie
Office Manager (London)