Getting a careless driving ticket is scary, isn’t it? It’s a serious charge, and most people don’t know what to do next. What exactly is it? What are the consequences of a careless driving charge? Should you fight it?
In this article, you’ll find everything you need to know about careless driving in Ontario. Most importantly, it will help you find the best way to deal with your ticket.
What exactly is Careless Driving?
Under the Highway Traffic Legislation, careless driving is one of the most severe charges. Police officers, based on their interpretation, can apply it to drivers on the highway if they believe the driver has failed to drive with the proper attention and care for others.
The definition of careless driving in the Ontario Highway Traffic is:
“Every person is guilty of the offense 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.” Ontario Highway Traffic Act – Careless Driving (LINK https://www.ontario.ca/laws/statute/90h08#BK218)
Examples of Careless Driving
There’s a lot of misconception about careless driving tickets since it’s broad and open to interpretation. Here are a few examples of careless driving acts:
- Being too close to other vehicles
- Passing other vehicles in a risky or unsafe way
- Not stopping on red lights or stop signs
- Street racing or speeding
- Causing accidents due to lack of attention (i.e., texting)
Even though some people think that an accident must happen for someone to be charged with careless driving, that isn’t how it works. Regardless if there has been a collision or not, if the driver shows a lack of care or awareness on the highway that could endanger others, officers can charge them with careless driving.
In other words, if drivers aren’t paying enough attention to the road, driving carefully or considering the others, they could get a ticket for careless driving.
Careless Driving vs. Dangerous Driving
We often get asked if careless driving is the same as dangerous driving, and the answer is no. Careless driving is a provincial charge under the highway traffic legislation.
Dangerous driving, on the other hand, is a criminal offense. Which means, under the Criminal Code of Canada, dangerous driving leads to a criminal record and severe consequences.
Careless Driving Conviction
When it comes to careless driving charges, the situation will determine how severe the consequences will be for the driver. But, even in the best case scenario, a careless driving conviction will be registered in your driving record and can impact your insurance rates amongst other things.
Possible penalties and fines for Careless Driving:
- Fine: $490-$2000 (Doubled in construction and community safety zones)
- Demerit Points: 6
- 30-day licence suspension (novice drivers)
- Licence suspension for 2 years
- Prison term of up to 6 months
- Increased insurance rates for 3 to 6 years
- Loss of employment for commercial drivers
The fines for careless driving can vary from $490 to $2,000, but they can double in construction areas or community safety zones.
For instance, if it was just a minor collision and no one was harmed, or there wasn’t an accident, you’ll, most likely, receive the minimum fine. Along with the fine, you’ll get six demerit points, and it will be registered on your driving record.
The worst part is, regardless of the severity, your insurance rates can increase drastically for three to six years, and some insurance companies might not renew the contract.
In severe cases, you will need to appear in court to answer to the charges. On top of the more expensive fines, drivers convicted of careless driving can lose their licences and even go to jail for up to six months.
How do Careless Driving charges affect Insurance Rates?
When you have a careless driving conviction on your driving record, the insurance quotes go way up. Each insurance company has its own rules, but careless driving is such a serious charge that they can drastically increase your insurance rates for at least three years.
By the way, for insurance companies, any careless driving conviction is a serious one. Regardless if there was a collision or not, they will still increase your rates.
If the driver has other infractions on the record, he or she might be disqualified from their existing insurance coverage. Plus, as we said before, some insurance companies might not offer to renew the policy.
Should you fight your Careless Driving Ticket?
As you can see, careless driving convictions can be more severe than most people realize it. But, the good news is, most careless driving charges can be successfully defended or, at least, reduced.
Many factors need to be considered when it comes to a careless driving charge. The conditions of the road, the weather, the situation and points of view, all play a massive role in driving safely on a highway.
Since the charge is based on the police officer’s interpretation, careless driving defence charges are one of the most common needs among traffic issues. Perhaps you saw something that the officer didn’t. So, in his or her eyes you were careless but, in fact, you were very much aware.
At the very least, fighting your careless driving ticket can give you a chance to reduce the charges. By reducing them, you’ll get fewer demerit points, and you might be able to keep your current insurance rates.
Got a careless driving ticket, what to do next?
When we talk about fighting traffic tickets, each situation is unique, especially regarding careless driving. It has such a broad definition that there isn’t a one-glove-fits-all kind of thing.
Let’s say you received a careless driving fine of $490. If you just pay for it, it’s considered an admission of guilt. It will go on your driving record, and you can expect increased insurance rates.
But if you fight it, you could have the charges reduced to an infraction that won’t affect your record or your insurance rates as much. You could even win it and keep your insurance policy and driving records intact.
So, if you got a careless driving ticket, the first thing to do is get professional advice. Since the circumstances vary, the best way to deal with this kind of ticket is to talk to traffic ticket agents about what happened.
A traffic ticket agent can help you find the best course of action for your careless driving charges. Even though it’s a challenging situation to be in, it’s crucial to try and find the best possible solution.
At Ticket Defenders, you can get a free consultation regarding your Careless Driving ticket with one of our traffic ticket agents. They can evaluate your case and give you straightforward advice on what to do next, and it won’t cost you anything.