Section 130 of the HTA sets out careless driving as follows:
130. Every person is guilty of the offence of driving carelessly who drives a vehicle or street car on a highway without due care and attention or without reasonable consideration for other persons using the highway…
Careless driving is considered to be one of the more serious charges in the HTA. The officer has discretion to lay charges under Part I or Part III. The officer would likely opt for Part III charges if there is an ancient or serious injury, if the officer wants to require a court appearance, or if the offence takes place in a community safety zone.
Defendants charged under Part I will face a set fine of $400 plus 6 demerit points. Most drivers will be more concerned about the points than the fine because the number of points for this offence is significant, especially for insurance purposes. Defendants charged under Part III will be required to attend court and face a fine in the range of $400 to $2000, at the Justice’s discretion. A conviction under Part III also brings 6 demerit points, plus the possibility of up to 6 months in jail and a driver’s license suspension of up to two years.
Careless Driving is one of the most serious offences found in the Highway Traffic Act in addition to being one of the most litigated. Almost identical provisions are found in other provincial traffic statutes. Defendants convicted of careless driving receive six demerit points, however, the wording of the section is wide, and many defendants, rather than face a trial on such a charge, opt to plead guilty to a less serious offence. This can result in expensive fines and/or a jail term of up to 6 month, in addition to increased insurance premiums.