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Careless Driving: What it is, How it Affects Your Record

January 17, 2013

Police pulling over a car for careless drivingCareless driving is among the more common violations given out by police, but in many cases there is some confusion as to what careless driving actually is. This is because there is a lot of room for interpretation on the part of the law enforcement officer when it comes to determining what qualifies as careless driving. Unlike a speeding ticket, which is easily measurable using radar, careless driving violations can be given out in a variety of situations where the officer feels a driver was not using the care and attention to the road needed to drive safely.

Defining Careless Driving

The Highway Traffic Act of Ontario defines careless driving as driving “a vehicle or street car on a highway without due care and attention or without reasonable consideration for other persons using the highway.”

There is a great deal of interpretation on the part of the officer giving the violation. That officer must determine that the driver was not exercising the level of care and awareness of his or her surroundings that is required for safe driving. This can apply in many situations, whether or not an accident occurs. Careless driving charges are common in the case of accidents where one driver caused the crash due to careless actions. Police can also hand out a careless driving violation when they witness a driver performing an action on the road that shows carelessness and could potentially cause an accident, even if it did not.

Because careless driving has so much room for interpretation in the definition and relies on the officer’s judgment, it is a charge that many people consider fighting in court.

Fighting a Careless Driving Charge

If you choose to fight a careless driving charge, the most important thing to be aware of is that you will bear the burden of proof. That means you will have to convince the judge that your actions were not careless or dangerous, and that the police officer’s assessment of the situation was wrong.

It is possible to successfully fight a careless driving charge, and there is assistance available. OTT Legal – Traffic Ticket Defense offers paralegal assistance to help drivers who feel they have been wrongly charged with a traffic violation to avoid the demerit points and fines. Careless driving can come with a punishment ranging from a $400 fine all the way to a maximum of 6 months in prison. Those are serious consequences that are worth fighting if you really believe you are not guilty.

There is no guarantee that you will be able to get off even with assistance, but if you do choose to fight a careless driving ticket, having professional advice and help can often make a big difference in your success. Before you decide to fight the charge, look at what happened as objectively as you can and be certain you feel you have a strong case. Remember that you will be required to provide evidence that you were not driving carelessly, which in some situations can be very difficult to do.

Careless Driving and Your Record

Careless driving carries a penalty of 6 demerit points on your license. This is a relatively hefty amount of demerit points, and if you have any other demerits already it could put you in a position where you will be asked to come in to a meeting to determine whether you should be permitted to keep your license.

Along with the penalties that go a long with the violation, having a careless driving charge on your record will impact your car insurance quotes. Each insurance company treats such a charge in their own way, but your rates will increase as a result of the violation. Insurance companies may charge you for the offence for up to 3 years. If you have other marks against your record already, you will find the rates greatly increased. You may even face non-renewal by your insurance company as a result of a large number of demerit points on your record. This means the insurance company will not offer to renew your policy and you will have to seek insurance elsewhere.

If the careless driving violation is the only mark against your record, you will likely simply face several years of higher insurance rates. If you are able to successfully fight the careless driving charge, it will be removed from your record and the insurance company will not charge you for it.

  • http://www.insurancehotline.com/ InsuranceHotline.com


    You have the option of going to court to plead your case whenever you get a ticket.

    Thank you

  • http://www.insurancehotline.com/ InsuranceHotline.com

    Tickets are usually given at the time that the incident occurred.

  • mz

    what if the officer never actually pulled you over? I received a careless driving ticket in the mail. don’t know if its worth my time disputing ?

  • Katherine

    What If the officer never got your statement before he wrote the ticket? Someone had cut in front of me and braked all of a sudden because they realized there was a school bus that was stopped. I wasn’t given the opportunity to explain this to the officer before he gave me the ticket.

  • sukhdeep hehar

    My licence suspended in 23 March 2010 how many year after remove from my abstract

  • sukhdeep hehar

    Dangerous driving impaired driving charges how many year takes to remove from my abstract in Alberta

  • SF

    I was involved in an accident on March 19th, 2005 in Calgary and strongly feel that the other driver may have been driving distracted (and likely in my mind was the cause of the accident even though I was blamed for it). He said he was in 4 accidents this year already (my last and at fault accident was in my mid 20′s and Im now 42), that the yield where the accident happened was a “tricky spot” when it was a very easy to navigate part of the road with dry roads and a clear sunny day (2:25pm). He also said he called 911 on his way driving up the road (after he left the scene and then came back) and I noticed his phone was in his shirt pocket. The thing is that he had multiple times were it should have been reasonable for him to proceed (he even did start to move but obviously stopped again with no traffic around at all). The officer who came was not at all interested in any of those things and didn’t even ask the other driver if he had hands free or check his vehicle. He then gave me a $410 careless driving ticket (having not been there to see anything happen), then told me I should go to court and have it reduced. I got the ticket March 19 and a court date of Apr 20 on it. I went to the court house to get it reduced (before I found your port here) on March 31, waited in line for 20 min, then sat and waited again for another 20 min only to have the lady tell me that the officer had not dropped the ticket off there yet so they didn’t have it. She stamped my ticket and told me I would have to come back again!
    So now I read your post and feel its likely to late for me to request Disclosure or proceed in any way as the officer didn’t give enough time.
    Is there any recourse?
    Thank you in advance for your reply.

  • steph

    if the person who is fighting the careless driving charge does the person they hit in the accident able to go to court to fight against them lessening the charge

  • Katherine

    My husband received a careless driving charge for driving off the road when his hot coffee fell over in the cup holder and poured over his feet. There were no other vehicles or people involved. He was going around a sharp curve when it happened; only took his eyes of the road for a few seconds. We feel the cause did not warrant the charge. He is a senior with a perfect driving record and he wants to plead not guilty. Any advice would be welcomed!

  • william

    My husband was charged with careless driving when he went to follow the ambulance that was taking me to the hospital. The police came into the hospital telling me he was arrested for drunk driving. After they took him to the station for a breathilizerr test in handcuffs, they realized he blew clear and was not drinking. So they charged him with carless driving.. He is meeting with a Crown Atttoney within three months simply to try to get the fine reduced which is $490.00. What outcome can we expect under these circumstances.

  • J. Doe

    Is your husband white? If so, DEFINATELY fight it…automatic victory for you guys. However, If your husband is black….PLEASE DON’T WASTE YOUR TIME trying to fight that charge….You are guilty when you step in the court room!

  • Janice Kierstead

    Was told by the police officer that my daughter’s careless driving charge can be reduced by the Justice of Pease?

  • Admin

    Please contact POINTTS at 888-787-0260 for a free no obligation consultation before your husband goes to meet the JP

  • Admin

    There are Demerit points that are associated with such a charge. If your Daughter does not have a G license, she cannot afford points so please call POINTTS at 888-787-0260 for a free no obligation consultation. Doesn’t hurt to get free advice from a Traffic Ticket Specialist

  • Gofa Kyoursel

    This article is factually incorrect. The defendant in this case does not in fact bear the burden of proof. Stop getting your information from watching Judge Judy.

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