Have you recently received a careless driving ticket? Do you know what it means and how it can impact your life? It is a serious charge that can lead to severe consequences. In this post, we will discuss everything you need to know about the consequences of a conviction in Ontario. We will cover the definition, charging documents, penalties, and duration of the record in Ontario. To determine long-term impacts on insurance rates, we recommend anonymously contacting a different broker with the same insurance company. Additionally, we will also explore legal options to fight a charge and the importance of seeking professional help to determine your next steps. So, if you have received a careless ticket or want to be informed about the consequences of one before getting behind the wheel, keep reading!

Car crash, could be due to Careless Driving

What is Careless Driving in Ontario?

Receiving a Careless driving ticket in Ontario can result in significant repercussions as it violates one of the most serious offences under the Ontario Highway Traffic Act. If convicted, your driver’s license will be assigned a total of six (6) demerit points. Additionally, you will be subjected to fines ranging from $490 to $2000, along with associated costs and potential license suspensions, including driver’s licence suspension for up to 2 years. In instances where there is a loss of life or bodily injury, or if the charge is issued through a Summons, the penalties could be more severe, including possible jail time and fines of up to $50,000. To safeguard your rights and navigate the legal proceedings with assurance, it is recommended that you always seek professional legal advice when facing such charges.

Careless driving Ticket

130 (1) 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. 2017, c. 26, Sched. 4, s. 17.


(2) On conviction under subsection (1), a person 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 driver’s licence or permit may be suspended for a period of not more than two years. 2017, c. 26, Sched. 4, s. 17.

Careless driving causing bodily harm or death

(3) 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 who thereby causes bodily harm or death to any person. 2017, c. 26, Sched. 4, s. 17.


(4) On conviction under subsection (3), a person is liable to a fine of not less than $2,000 and not more than $50,000 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than two years, or to both, and in addition his or her driver’s licence or permit may be suspended for a period of not more than five years. 2017, c. 26, Sched. 4, s. 17.

Deemed lack of reasonable consideration 

(5) For the purposes of subsections (1) and (3), a person is deemed to drive without reasonable consideration for other persons using the highway if he or she drives in a manner that may limit his or her ability to prudently adjust to changing circumstances on the highway. 2017, c. 26, Sched. 4, s. 17.

Sentencing — aggravating factor

(6) A court that imposes a sentence for an offence under subsection (3) shall consider as an aggravating factor evidence that bodily harm or death was caused to a person who, in the circumstances of the offence, was vulnerable to a lack of due care and attention or reasonable consideration by a driver, including by virtue of the fact that the person was a pedestrian, cyclist or person working upon the highway. 2017, c. 26, Sched. 4, s. 17; 2019, c. 8, Sched. 1, s. 25.

What is the Careless Driving Definition?

The charge, in simple terms, refers to operating a vehicle, or street car without due care and attention; or without reasonable consideration for other users of the roadway. The gravamen of the offence involves disregarding the safety of others on the road by engaging in actions which may include speeding and careless driving in unsafe conditions or purposely running a stop sign or committing combinations of offences. Although it is a non-criminal charge, the offence carries serious penalties. Therefore, it is crucial to understand the specific elements that constitute this offence. Under subsection five (5) it essentially obliges one to drive defensively and failure to do so alone can result in a careless driving ticket.

Definition and Law

Word Definition

Is Careless Driving a Criminal Offence?

No, it is not considered a criminal offence according to the Criminal Code of Canada. However, it can have severe consequences and impact your record. Dangerous Operation, on the other hand, is a criminal charge if you have received a Dangerous charge please see the link below.

Defend against a Dangerous Driving Charge

What if I just pay the fine?

Paying a fine is equivalent to admitting guilt for committing the offence and agreeing to receive a legal punishment from a court. This can greatly impact both your personal and possibly professional life, making it challenging to secure employment if driving is a part of your profession, it will not necessarily result in placing restrictions on travel, but might also result in causing harm to your reputation and driving record. The more convictions one receives, especially if they are serious, the less leniency you are likely to receive from the prosecution if charged again with an offence. It is essential to consult with a legal professional immediately if you are confronted with criminal charges, or provincial offence charges, in order to comprehend the potential consequences. There is no benefit if the strongest defense available is not utilized because of a failure to seek professional representation.

More Details about this charge and our services

What are some common defenses for a Careless Driving ticket?

There are several typical defenses one can use when contesting a careless driving ticket. These include questioning the accuracy of the officer’s observations, or witness observations, asserting that the driving behavior was necessary to prevent a more significant danger, providing evidence that undermines the credibility of witnesses or video footage. It is also important to consider due diligence defenses and the possibility of challenging any breach of charter rights. Defences can be based on mistaken belief in certain facts or things like momentary inadvertence. If you feel that you were driving in a safe and prudent fashion but the accident happened anyway, then you may have a defence based on your evidence alone.

Different Types of Charging Documents

If you have committed a traffic offence, you may receive two different types of legal documents. The first one is an offence notice, which contains a specified fine on the front and provides information about the court location on the back. To contest the charge, you must submit your ticket to the court within 15 days; or better yet, let us do it for you. The second type of document is called a Summons, which does not include a set fine. Instead, it specifies a court date and requires you to attend court and respond to the charges against you. It is crucial to comprehend the distinction between these two notices and take appropriate action in order to avoid any further legal complications. Generally speaking, we would also be able to attend court for you if the case was commenced by way of summons.

Provincial Offences Court

Police car with lights

Careless Driving Violation without an Accident

Careless Driving is one of the most serious and commonly laid charges under the Highway Traffic Act. Examples of careless driving can encompass multiple behaviors, such as speeding and making aggressive lane changes that constitute driving without due care and attention. This charge can be laid even if there is no accident involved, resulting in a charge of careless driving with the same penalties.

What are the long-term Impacts on my licence and insurance rates due to Careless Driving?

Careless charges can have significant long-term consequences on insurance rates. Insurance companies often view careless as an indication of higher risk, leading to increased premiums. The severity of the careless charge and an individual’s driving history play a crucial role in determining the impact on insurance rates. It is essential to consider the long-term financial implications of a conviction and take steps to improve your record. By doing so, you can mitigate the long-term impact on insurance rates. Legal advice cannot however be given regarding what the specific impact on your insurance will be and clients would need to satisfy themselves in that regard.

Duration of Demerits in Ontario, Canada

In Ontario, the duration of a Careless Driving ticket on your driving record is generally thought to be three to five years for insurance purposes although that may vary might impact your insurance premiums for an extended period. To obtain specific information about your insurance rates, it is recommended to directly contact your insurance company or thoroughly review your policy with them.

Demerits remain on your record for two years but convictions remain permanently and are not expunged.


Preparing Your Defence; Careless Driving Charge through Summons or Offence Notice

When facing a careless driving ticket, it is crucial to review the specifics of the case against you. Our team will take the time to carefully analyze the evidence put forth by the prosecution, we look for any inconsistencies or weaknesses in their case. Additionally, we will consult with witnesses who can provide testimony in your favour to strengthen your defence against the traffic ticket. We will then prepare a strong argument that challenges the charge, taking into consideration factors such as road conditions and the actions of other drivers. Remember, it is your legal right to defend yourself against this traffic ticket if you are unable to afford professional fees to do so. However, paralegal fees tend to be modest so retaining a professional that is specifically trained for the job and spends everyday dealing with tickets in court will always result in the cleanest record in the long run.

If you are going to retain a professional it is very important to do so at the beginning as there are many ways that untrained persons can inadvertently adversely affect their case. If you cannot afford a professional and intend to represent yourself then the best advice we can give is to make sure you understand the specifics of the charge that you are facing and the case against you before attending court.

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In conclusion, a careless driving violation in Ontario can have significant consequences that can go well beyond just the immediate penalties. From increased insurance rates to long-term records, a conviction can have a lasting impact on your everyday life. However, it is important to remember that you have legal options to fight against these charges. By seeking professional help, that can assist in preparing a strong defense, you can increase your chances of getting a favourable outcome. It’s also crucial to understand the impact on your driving privileges and take steps to avoid such situations in the future. It is often the case that even if the charge cannot be defended or eliminated, your licensed legal service provider can still negotiate a reduction to a lesser offence in order to reduce the impact on your driving record and to help to reduce insurance ramifications. Demerits, fines, licence suspensions and other negative impacts can also potentially be avoided or reduced. If you have been charged with careless driving, whether you think you are guilty or innocent, call us first. The initial consultation is always free and without obligation.


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