Ontario to Get Tougher on Careless Driving
Careless Driving Proposed Legislation
Wynne’s Ontario Liberals are proposing tougher penalties for Careless Driving offences, where a death has occurred. The new penalties will include a significant increase to the maximum fines, an increase in licence suspension, and longer imprisonment. The Toronto Star reported that the increases are a result of the increased driving fatalities that have occurred in Toronto.
The new penalties
Fine $2,000 to $50,000
Suspension up to 5 years
Imprisonment up to 2 years
The existing penalties
Fine $400 to $2,000
Suspension up to 2 years
Imprisonment up to 6 months (Only under Part 3 proceedings)
More changes to the Legislation
Careless Driving is not the only change that may occur if the law passes and receives royal ascent. Distracted driving, and hand held communication device charges could also have their penalties toughened up. Cell phone tickets could reach up to $3,000 in fines, and carry a 30 day suspension.
Pro’s and Con’s
Will tougher penalties save lives on Ontario’s roads? The proposed legislation may benefit road safety, but some of the newest legislation has had the opposite affect, and has created a recipe for dangerous situations. Distracted driving laws, and the tougher penalties that have been imposed over the last several years have caused some motorists to use their phones in their laps, out of sight from potential law enforcers which is considered an even greater distraction. HOV lane changes, and the prohibition of not being able to switch lanes, has caused many motorists to make consecutive lane changes in one movement in order for the motorists to make their exit.
Road safety might only be served through lengthy suspensions, but I do not see fines and imprisonment having a positive affect for preventing future accidents. Most defendant’s of fatality matters, are suffering from tremendous emotional stress from being involved in an accident, and to add to that stress with extremely tough penalties may not remedy road safety. Most people I have defended don’t even want to drive anymore after being in a tragic accident, they are too emotionally distraught. A $50,000 won’t even go to the victim’s families, it goes to our Regional Governments. Furthermore, Careless Driving is seen as a “blanket charge”, which is laid in almost every accident situation, even in accident’s where clearly no one is at fault. So now the issue becomes in fatality accidents where maybe no one is at fault, the defendant is facing a greater wall to climb over, which may not be fair. Remember sometimes accidents are just accidents.