Dangerous Driving Charges  

Highway Traffic Act

Dangerous Driving Charges in Canada

Charged with Dangerous DrivingIf you have been charged with dangerous driving and need legal representation, it is important to understand the offense and its implications. Dangerous driving, also known as the dangerous operation of a motor vehicle, occurs when a person operates a motor vehicle in a manner that poses a risk to the public.

Determining "Dangerous to the Public"

To establish dangerous driving, Section 249 of the Criminal Code of Canada considers various factors, including:

  • The nature, condition, and use of the location where the vehicle is operated
  • The presence or potential presence of traffic at the location

It is worth noting that a passenger in the vehicle is considered part of the public. Additionally, the presence of actual individuals is not necessary for a location to be considered public. Public places include areas accessible to the public, such as public highways, parking lots, driveways with public access, and school grounds used by teachers and students. Even if no one is visibly present, it can be argued that a person could reasonably be expected to be there.

Mental Element of Dangerous Driving

To prove the offense of dangerous driving, the prosecution must establish that the accused had the intention to operate the vehicle in a manner that objectively deviated from the expected standard of care for a reasonable driver in the circumstances. For example, if a driver falls asleep while operating a vehicle, they cannot be said to have intended to deviate from the standard of care unless they knew or should have known that there was a real risk of falling asleep.

If you are speeding in a school zone, the court will consider whether your driving posed or could have posed a danger to the lives or safety of the public. The court will also assess whether, objectively speaking, you exercised the same level of care that a reasonable person would have exercised in the same circumstances.

In situations where external factors such as sudden illness or the presence of a bee in the car influenced your driving, the court will evaluate whether a reasonable person facing the same circumstances would have acted similarly.

Impact on Others vs. Consequences

When determining dangerous driving, the focus is on how the vehicle was operated rather than the specific consequences that resulted from its operation.

Penalties Under the Criminal Code of Canada

Dangerous operation of a motor vehicle is a hybrid offense. Upon conviction, the penalties under the Criminal Code can include:

  • A maximum fine of $5,000 and/or a maximum imprisonment term of 6 months for a summary offense
  • A maximum imprisonment term of 5 years for an indictable offense
  • In cases where bodily harm is caused to another person, a maximum imprisonment term of 10 years
  • In cases where another person's death is a result of dangerous driving, a maximum imprisonment term of 14 years
  • Additional penalties, including a driving prohibition of up to 3 years, as authorized by Section 259 of the Criminal Code

Dangerous DrivingPenalties Under the Highway Traffic Act

According to the Highway Traffic Act, a dangerous driving conviction carries the following mandatory driver's license suspensions:

  • 1 year suspension for a first conviction
  • 3 year suspension for subsequent convictions within a 10-year period
  • Indefinite suspension for a third conviction within 10 years
  • To reinstate an indefinitely suspended license, a minimum of 10 years must elapse since the previous conviction, with no additional driving offenses during that period.

Driver's license suspensions are governed by the Ontario Ministry of Transportation. Even when the suspension period has ended, operating a motor vehicle is prohibited until the license is reinstated. To reinstate a license, individuals must visit the Ministry, register, and pay the necessary fee.

Reinstatement of a license may be subject to additional conditions, such as drug counseling, driver training, or physical examinations. These conditions must be fulfilled before a license is returned. Driving with a suspended license or failing to reinstate it before resuming driving can lead to a maximum imprisonment term of 2 years.

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