Careless 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.