Careless driving is defined in the Highway Traffic Act as, driving a motor vehicle, “without due care and attention or without reasonable consideration for other persons using the highway.” While the conduct that constitutes careless driving can be its own infraction, such as exceeding the speed limit, it is not required that you break the rules of the road to receive a careless driving ticket. The question is not whether the action is against the law, but rather whether under the circumstances, a driver exercising ordinary care would have done the same thing.
Penalties for careless driving are some of the most severe penalties under the Highway Traffic Act. The minimum fine is $400, but the fine can be as high as $2000. If the careless driving took place in a community safety zone, the minimum fine doubles to $800. Additionally, the court can impose up to six months imprisonment and the suspension of driving privileges for up to two years. A conviction automatically garners you six demerit points with the Ministry of Transportation.
Having a careless driving conviction on your record can also wreak havoc on your ability to find and pay for auto insurance. Your car insurance company can increase your rates sometimes as much as 100%, or cancel your existing policy based on a single careless driving conviction. Depending on your particular circumstances, and whether or not you have accumulated other insurance “risk” points, the conviction can force you to have to purchase high-risk insurance at a great cost.
You can receive one of two types of tickets if the police determine that careless driving has occurred. The first has a set amount printed on the ticket and you can choose to plead guilty by paying, plead guilty by paying but include a note of explanation, or go to court to fight the ticket. The second type, usually reserved for the most serious careless driving offences, does not have a fine stated on the ticket and your only option is to appear in court.
Regardless of which type of ticket you receive a lawyer can help you make the best decision on how to proceed. While it at first, it may seem easier to pay the fine, it is important to go over your specific circumstances with a lawyer who can help you determine whether not going to court is really worth the possibility of increased insurance rates and other consequences of a careless driving conviction.