The main difference between dangerous driving and careless driving is that dangerous driving can be criminally charged, and careless driving is a non-criminal charge. Careless driving results in a traffic ticket under the Ontario Highway Traffic Act.
Dangerous driving charges the crown attorney must prove to the court that;
- The accused had the intent to commit the driving action
- The driving action took place in a public location
- The driving action was dangerous
- The accused was driving a motor vehicle as defined by the Criminal Code of Canada
During a dangerous driving charge, the police must prove that the driver planned on doing the bad or dangerous driving, that the public was around or in the area of the dangerous driving, and that the act itself was dangerous but they will not need to prove that there was an accident or result of the dangerous driving.
Careless driving charges the provincial prosecutor must prove to the court that;
- The offence took place on a roadway in Ontario
- The prosecution will not need to prove any intent
- The prosecution needs to prove the driving was careless or that the driver drove without reasonable consideration to other drivers
- The defendant was driving a vehicle as defined by the Highway Traffic Act of Ontario
Careless driving, the prosecution will not need to prove that the driver has planned or had an intent to commit the bad driving. Typically, careless driving charges were a result of an accident where the driver made a driving error.
Penalty Vs Dangerous Driving And Careless Driving
Since dangerous driving is a criminal charge, the penalty can be severe and devastating for most drivers.
The penalties for dangerous driving can include:
- Having a criminal record for life
- Mandatory criminal driving license suspension for one year
- Fines imposed by the judge
- The judge can order a jail sentence
- Probation or other terms imposed by the court
- High insurance rates for five years
Careless driving penalties include:
- No criminal record
- Six demerit points
- A fine between five hundred and two thousand five hundred dollars
- Possible provincial suspension for six months
- The judge can order a period of jail
- High insurance rates for three years
Fighting Your Dangerous Driving Charges
As with many cases, the first step is to get your story recorded by your attorney. Then, they will analyze what happened to determine if the circumstances fit with the allegations and what defences might apply to your situation.
In most cases, a criminal lawyer can help reduce a dangerous driving charge to a careless driving charge instead. This can only be attempted after all avenues to the dangerous driving charge are completely dismissed and have been investigated.
The resolution of a dangerous driving charge being reduced to a careless driving charge is typically a good outcome for the driver as there will be no criminal record associated with careless driving and no mandatory driver’s license suspension.