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.
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.
Our system of Justice in Ontario stems from the British common law system of Stare Decisis (Latin for previously decided cases). Not many people enjoy reading case law. But having the right case law to reference in your defence, could prove to be the determining and deciding factor.
Why is case law important?
Previously decided cases can “bind” lower courts to follow their previous decisions. So if you were facing a careless driving charge in Newmarket, Ontario, or in any other Court, you or your representative may want to research case law decisions focused on careless driving.
These previously decided case may or may not help you with your defence. But it’s important to research and review them for similarities.
Plus, there are case law decisions, that cover disclosure, charter right violations, officer’s evidence, hearsay evidence, and the list goes on. So case law can certainly assist with preparing a strong defence, if the case law is properly researched, interpreted and applied.
Having a representative with education in law, or a Paralegal program is an asset, as they will have been taken classes dedicated to legal research.
Can I do my own case law research?
Yes you absolutely can. However, understanding the content and referencing & applying it in Court is a different story.
I have witnessed others trying to present case law but they were at a disadvantage as they lacked the proper legal training. While it is admirable that unrepresented individuals try to do it themselves, their application of case law rarely succeeds, as they will often choose the wrong case law or misinterpret the case law they use when presenting a defence.
While doing some research on your own is fine, consider this, if your plumbing pipes in your kitchen were to burst, would you try and fix the problem yourself? Or would you hire an experienced and qualified plumber?
When it comes to your driving licence and record, you may be much better served by retaining someone trained and experienced to answer the charges and competently present appropriate and focused defence(s).
Making case law ?
Not all legal representatives ( Paralegals ) will have successfully presented defences for their Clients that led to Case Law, in the Justice’s ruling. Some representatives may be concerned at the risk of creating an adverse case law decision, against future defence arguments.
It is advisable, if you are considering launching an Appeal, against a conviction, that you seriously consider retaining someone who has the prior experience of defending Clients that led to the creation of case law before.
Experience, and a proven track record are two important factors when considering who to retain. In an Appeal setting, if you are thinking of going it alone ( which we do not recommend ) just keep in mind, that you will be arguing before a Judge, who will have had a minimum service of at least 10 years as a lawyer before becoming a Judge. Whether you are appearing before a Justice of the Peace or before a Judge to answer to charges or for an Appeal hearing, you are always better off, if you put forward the best defence you can. That’s where Lighthouse Legal Services can help……
Why Hire You?
It’s important to hire someone you can TRUST, and feel comfortable that they have your best interests in mind at all times.
Choosing the right Paralegal, one who is experienced, dedicated and hard-working is a good start. You may also want to ask around, and retain someone who others have retained previously and can recommend. Personal experiences and recommendations may be the best deciding factor.
There are many individuals and companies to choose from. Lighthouse Legal Services likes to pride itself on exemplary personalised customer service.
Brian Morris is the owner of Lighthouse Legal Services. As a licensed Paralegal, he has successfully defended thousands of Clients. Brian is extremely dedicated and works hard to provide the best defence possible for all of his Clients.
Some of his clients Trial decisions and successful outcomes have led to the Courts creating case law, for Careless Driving.
Brian put forward arguments and evidence that was ultimately relied upon by the Court to define what a “Driver” is in Ontario. He has also successfully appealed amber light convictions.
If you are wondering who to hire, to help you to Appeal a conviction. Hiring a Paralegal who understands Appeal strategies is an important consideration,
Not knowing or utilizing the correct strategy can make a huge difference. Brian has the proven experience to know what cases to take forward to Appeal, and which cases to turn away.
An equally important consideration to bear in mind, is Brian’s honesty and ethical approach. He only accepts those Clients he genuinely feels he can successfully help.
If after speaking with you, Brian determines that your appeal is in his opinion, frivolous and /or without merit and is unlikely to be successful, he will tell you. And he may determine not to let you hire him.
However, if he considers that you do have sufficient grounds to go forward with an Appeal, he will do all he can to help you succeed.
Brian is always happy to consult with you if you are unsure as to whether or not you have sufficient grounds to proceed.
Many people we encounter, don’t always understand why they were charged with Careless Driving, for a minor fender bender.
Careless Driving, after all is a very serious traffic ticket. But it is best not to despair if you have received a Traffic Ticket charge for Careless Driving.
The following information may answer some of the questions you may have about Careless Driving.
To begin with, Careless Driving is laid against driver’s for a variety of reasons. From simple fender benders, to serious fatal collisions.
The charge can also be laid for a variety of minor to serious accident scenarios. But, it can also be laid against you even when you haven’t been involved in an accident.
So, now you may be wondering, how can that be? How can a charge of Careless Driving be laid against a driver for everything from a serious, or a minor collision, to no accident at all?
The short answer is, the Police can charge drivers for accidents they perceive to have been caused by a lack of due care and attention. Or where they perceive you were driving without reasonable consideration for others using the highway, or for both reasons.
Think of Careless Driving as a blanket charge, that can be used in a variety of different scenarios. An accident does not need to occur, for you to be charged with this offence.
However, it is a charge that is regularly laid against the majority of drivers, whenever they are involved in collisions in Ontario.
I do not think I was Driving Carelessly!
Sometimes accidents are just accidents, and no one is to blame. In other situations, accidents may well have been caused by a driver. But that doesn’t automatically make you guilty of Careless Driving.
There are so many factors and variables to consider in each situation or accident, and those factors will need to be assessed & considered to the most relevant & leading Case Law in Ontario and Canada.
So while you may have been involved in an accident, and you may think you could be found to be at fault. You may not actually be at fault, for violating the Highway Traffic Act, relevant to a charge of Careless Driving.
It really comes down to a case by case analysis, but you would be wise to consult with a an experience & Licensed Paralegal.
Lighthouse Legal Services would be pleased to offer you a *FREE consultation, so that you can learn more about your options.
Should I Speak to the Police?
That is entirely your hoice. You have a Charter Right to Remain Silent, but if you choose to speak to the police, you should know that anything you say can be used against you in Court.
In my experience, the majority of Defendants who give a statement, without first obtaining advice from a trained and licensed Paralegal, can end up receiving a ticket for Careless Driving.
The Officer told me to fight my Ticket?
It can be a confusing process if a Police Officer hands you a ticket, and also advises you to go to Court fight it. I can’t give you an explanation as to why this occurs, but in my opinion, I believe that the Police Officers understand the seriousness and potential consequences of laying a Careless Driving charge.
And simply paying the amount on the ticket, and not successfully defending against the charge could result in you being dropped by your insurance provider, and also possibly placed into high-risk category for future vehicle insurance.
During most traffic stops, the Police Officers do take the time to explain to you the options laid out on the back of the Traffic ticket. But be mindful, that no Defendant should be taking legal advice from the Police, since they are in the business of law enforcement and will be trying to convict you if they charged you.
It is important that you Seek proper legal advice if you have been charged with Careless Driving to explore what your legal options are available.
Why should I Hire You if I’ve been charged with Careless Driving?
Your Traffic Ticket charge(s) could be quashed, stayed, acquitted, or dismissed by the Court, depending on a variety of factors.
You are going to have a much better chance of successfully defending, or winning at Trial, against the very serious charge of Careless Driving, if you have retained an experienced and qualified legal representative.
Knowing how to get a positive result can be the key to preparing, presenting & achieving a successful defence against a charge of Careless Driving, or appealing a conviction.
At Lighthouse Legal Services, Brian Morris is considered the Best Advocate for Careless Driving Trials, and Appeals. His defence arguments and successful Trial decisions in Traffic Court have previously led to the Court creating case law for Careless Driving cases throughout Ontario.
Those case law decisions are binding on the lower Courts to follow in the appropriate circumstances.
At Lighthouse Legal Services
We know the laws, procedures, and rules of the Court
We know how to develop the best possible strategies to achieve success
We know what questions to ask, & how to ask those questions
We have Case Law expertise, and will thoroughly research all major rulings that relate to Careless Driving, and the case law that relates to Provincial Offences Trials
We strive to capably represent & protect your Charter of Rights