Careless Driving

What is Careless Driving Ontario?

Careless driving is indeed one of the “most popular” traffic violations in Canada. But what is it specifically in Ontario?

The Ontario Highway Traffic Act, section 130(1), states that careless driving is a traffic offence involving operating a motor vehicle or street car on a highway without due care and attention or reasonable consideration for other drivers using the highway.

A conviction for driving carelessly involves serious penalties: 6 demerit points, a fine between $400 and $2,000, possible jail time (up to six months), and driver’s licence suspension for up to 2 years.

In Ontario, careless driving charges are usually issued to drivers as a result of an accident where a police officer was not present and was not able to see what specific driver’s actions led to a motor vehicle accident.


What is Considered Careless Driving in Ontario?

As mentioned, careless driving is a neglect of traffic rules – driving without due care, attention or consideration of other road users. The law is quite vague and it is open for interpretation by police officers.

So, here are some common offences, covered by careless driving tickets:

  • following too close;
  • trying to make a turn at an intersection before the amber light signal turns red;
  • coming into contact with another motor vehicle from the back;
  • failing to check mirrors before maneuver;
  • unsafe passing;
  • talking and holding a cell phone while driving;
  • changing lanes on the highway without signalling and speeding at the same time;
  • reading a newspaper while standing in traffic on the highway (YES, there are such cases too!), etc.

Please note that careless driving differs from dangerous driving (Criminal Code).


Ontario Careless Driving Ticket Types:

  • careless driving ticket without an accident;
  • careless driving ticket with an accident;
  • careless driving ticket causing bodily harm or death.

Careless Driving Without an Accident

If you’re charged with careless driving without an accident or careless driving not causing bodily harm (under section 130(1) of the Highway Traffic Act), it means that you were operating a motor vehicle or street car without due care and attention. Such careless driving charges can be reduced to unsafe lane change, failure to yield, or following too close.

Careless Driving Causing Death or Bodily Harm in Ontario

If you were driving without reasonable care or attention and caused bodily harm or death to any person, you’ll get a traffic ticket for careless driving causing bodily harm or death. It can happen as a result of an accident of one or more vehicle, or a pedestrian.

This is a serious provincial offence under the Ontario Highway Traffic Act, section 130(3) that may result in a jail sentence, disastrous fines and loss of your driver’s licence. But you won’t get a criminal record, as it’s not a criminal offence.


Fines & Penalties for Careless Driving Charge in Ontario in 2024

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Penalties for Careless Driving NOT Causing Bodily Injury or Death:

  • 6 demerit points;
  • a fine from $400 to a maximum $2,000;
  • jail time up to 6 months;
  • licence suspension: mandatory licence suspension (for novice drivers); maximum for up to 2 years (for all drivers);
  • insurance rates increase.

Furthermore, the abovementioned careless driving penalties could be much higher and could have much more serious consequences.

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Penalties for Careless Driving Causing Bodily Harm or Death:

If you’re convicted of careless driving causing death or careless driving causing bodily harm or serious injury to any person (acc. section 130 (3) of the Highway Traffic Act), you will be liable to:

  • 6 demerit points;
  • fine from $2,000 to a maximum $50,000;
  • imprisonment for up to two years;
  • licence suspension: 30-day licence suspension (for novice drivers); maximum for up to 5 years (for all drivers);
  • significant insurance rates increase.

*upon conviction, the careless driving penalties could be both fine and imprisonment


How Does Careless Driving Affect Insurance in Ontario?

A careless driving conviction in Ontario can significantly impact your insurance rates. Insurance companies treat such offences seriously, and the consequences can vary depending on the insurer and the driver’s circumstances.

Once you are found guilty of careless driving charge in Ontario by the Court of Law, you can expect an increase in your insurance premiums. This increase typically lasts for three years (from the date of conviction) while the ticket remains on your record. For younger drivers, the rise in premiums is often more substantial compared to older drivers.

It’s important to note that a charge does not automatically result in an immediate careless driving insurance increase. The timing of the rate hike depends on how frequently your insurance company reviews your policy for traffic violations. Some drivers might avoid an immediate increase, depending on the insurer’s review schedule.

How Much Does Careless Driving Increase Insurance in Ontario?

A careless driving conviction can increase your insurance premiums by 50% to 100% or more. The exact amount depends on factors like your age, driving history, and your insurance company’s policies.

For example, a driver with a clean record prior to the Ontario careless driving conviction may face a smaller increase compared to someone with previous infractions; or younger and less experienced drivers typically see higher increases in their insurance rates.

Also, in case a driver also gets convicted of reckless driving, insurance companies may decide to cancel the driver’s insurance policy and simply refuse to insure them upon the next renewal.


How Long Does Careless Driving Stay on Your Record in Ontario?

A careless driving conviction under the Highway Traffic Act remains on your driving record forever, but it can be visible for insurance companies for three years (from the conviction date). This means that you may not get some government jobs requiring clean driving history when having a prior record of careless driving.


Ontario Careless Driving Ticket: Things to Know

So, before diving into the details about how to reduce your charge or how to win a careless driving ticket and get the best possible result in order to continue driving, you need to understand the following:

  • Each case is unique. Therefore, fighting a careless driving ticket in Ontario can’t be won based on the same or similar defence your friend’s reckless driving lawyer used some time ago to help them beat their charges. 
  • Careless driving tickets need to be submitted to the traffic court within 15 days, to request an early resolution meeting with a prosecutor or trial date.
  • Careless driving charges in Ontario can’t be treated by the court as a regular speeding offence or as minor offences. Thus, it is highly recommended to consult with a lawyer or paralegal regarding your defence strategy who knows exactly how to negotiate the best solution with the court without decreasing your chances. Remember, there is only ONE possibility to advocate your rights.
  • Before an early resolution meeting with a prosecutor, you should familiarize yourself with the police officer’s evidence that the court will use as proof of your guilty of perpetrating a careless driving offence in front of the justice of the peace.

Most people think that showing up in court and explaining how they followed driving rules will help them get off. But unfortunately, they are faced with a situation where this only proves the fact they were actually breaking the law and announce to the court how they meet at least one of the criteria listed in the wording of the careless driving offence which gets them convicted as a result.

This tactic does not help anyone beat careless driving charges; instead, it wastes time for all court procedures (it takes at least 2-3 court visits to fight any traffic ticket).


How to Fight Careless Driving Charge in Ontario

The main thing you need to understand – you need to fight your careless driving charges! Here are the steps:

  1. Don’t pay your traffic ticket or plead guilty.
  2. Select a trial option for your ticket.
  3. Submit your ticket to the court within 15 days.
  4. Schedule a trial date with the appropriate court.
  5. Prepare for the trial: gather evidence and request disclosure or officer’s notes.
  6. Attend court on your trial date prepared to fight your careless driving Ontario ticket.

Such a scenario will be the best option because during the trial process the ticket doesn’t go on your record, as well as you don’t get careless driving demerit points. Also, the prosecutor has to prove that you’re guilty. At the same time, you need to prepare the evidence that you’re not guilty.

At trial, you can have more possibilities to win the case due to some legal issues that may occur or because some of the witnesses fail to appear in court.

When fighting a careless driving charge, you should properly prepare by researching many similar cases to understand what evidence courts consider when deciding after the trial has been completed.

A methodical strategy must be discussed prior to trial to ensure that your questions and arguments can be applied in your situation. And finally, even if you feel that you have a strong case, sometimes just knowing which battles NOT to undertake goes a long way to getting the best possible outcomes when it comes to complex trial procedures.

BUT

If you really want to get the best possible result in fighting your ticket, you’ll need legal support and the representation of a traffic ticket lawyer or paralegal. For non-professionals, it might be a real nightmare.

At the same time, a good specialist will know how to provide you with the best careless driving defence and ensure your driving record stays clean for as long as possible while reducing your careless driving fine, or even help you to get your ticket dismissed completely.

Moreover, careless driving ticket paralegals can save you time and money by helping to fight the charges without you going to court!


To summarize everything mentioned above, if you are convicted of driving carelessly, don’t waste your time searching the internet. Just make a call, and we’ll prepare the best strategy for you today! The initial consultation is FREE.

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    FAQ

    Here we've prepared a short list of frequently asked questions in order to provide quick answers to anyone who's looking for information associated with the topic. If you need more clarification, please don't hesitate to contact us for a free consultation.

    👉Do I need to fight a careless driving ticket in Ontario? What if I just pay the fine?

    If you pay a fine, you plead guilty. It means that you get 6 demerit points, possible jail time up to 6 months and increased insurance rates. If you fight your ticket, you can reduce your charges or possibly even dismiss your case. So, it's advisable to contest.

    👉How long does careless driving stay on record in Ontario?

    A conviction for careless driving stays with you for three years (from a conviction date).

    👉Is careless driving a criminal offense in Ontario?

    No, careless driving is not a criminal offence. This is an offence under the Ontario Highway Traffic Act, section 130.

    👉How to get out of a careless driving ticket in Ontario?

    Of course, the best way is to hire a knowledgeable paralegal who will develop an individual defence strategy considering your case's peculiarities. This dramatically will increase your chances to reduce or to eliminate your charge.

    👉How many demerit points for careless driving in Ontario?

    6 demerit points

    👉How much is a careless driving ticket in Ontario?

    Careless driving ticket in Ontario may cost you from $490 to max. $2,000 + jail time (up to 6 months) and the possibility of drivers’ licence suspension.

    👉What constitutes careless driving in Ontario?

    Basically, careless driving is driving without due care, attention or consideration of other road users. So, here are examples that can constitute this offence:
    - following too close; - trying to make a turn at an intersection before the amber light signal turns red;
    - coming into contact with another motor vehicle from the back;
    - failing to check mirrors before maneuver;
    - unsafe passing; talking and holding a cell phone while driving;
    - changing lanes on the highway without signalling and speeding at the same time;
    - reading a newspaper while standing in traffic on the highway, etc.

    👉What is the penalty for careless driving in Ontario?

    - 6 demerit points
    - a fine between $400 and $2,000
    - possible jail time (up to six months)
    - driver's licence suspension for up to 2 years

    👉Is careless driving causing death a criminal offence?

    Careless driving causing death is considered a severe provincial offence with aggravating circumstances. Although it may lead to imprisonment and huge fines, it does not result in a criminal record.

    Don’t just pay the fine or go to court alone

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