Blog Careless Driving Charges In Ontario : New Road Safety Laws 2022

Jan 6, 2021

Ontario careless driving charges, points, fines and impact on insurance

woman applying mascara behind the wheel

Even though it’s a common traffic violation, being charged with careless driving is not a situation you want to find yourself in. Careless driving is a serious offence that can result in a ticket, fine, or worse, depending on the result of your behaviour behind the wheel. It can be combined with other incidents such as distracted driving and driving impaired.

In this blog, you'll understand the different charges and how it can impact your Ontario car insurance.

What is careless driving?

Careless driving can be somewhat confusing due to the nature of the law. The charge is open for interpretation by the police, and there are many situations where careless driving qualifies as an offence. It is a charge or ticket given out by police when they deem a driver was not using care and failed to pay attention and drive safely properly.

Even though the law is somewhat open for interpretation, there are acts that are commonly considered to be careless driving. Here are some examples :

  • Failing to maintain a safe distance from other vehicles, or road rage
  • Failing to check mirrors when reversing or changing directions
  • Making risky or unsafe passing
  • Running a red light or stop sign
  • Excessive speeding street racing or stunt driving
  • Accidents involving pedestrians and cyclists
  • A crash caused because of a inconsiderate action – such as texting and driving or applying make up
  • Any other situation where proper care is NOT taken on the road

Section 130 of the Ontario Highway Traffic Act defines the act of careless driving : 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 fines and penalties In Ontario 2022

Starting January 1, 2022, drivers who receive a licence suspension for poor driving behaviours, including careless driving, will see monetary fines starting at $250 for their first suspension.

Here is a breakdown of the possible driving penalties you could receive if you are given a the charge in Ontario :

  • You’ll be fined $250, $350, and $450 for first, second, and third or subsequent suspensions within a five-year period
  • 6 demerit points issued
  • 30 day license suspension for novice drivers
  • Fine is double in construction and community safety zones
  • Serious offences could receive a possible two-year license suspension
  • Serious offences could receive a possible six months in jail
  • You will see increases 100% upon conviction
  • Possible loss of employment, especially if driving is part of your job

Is careless driving a criminal offence?

man on phone while driving

Careless driving is NOT considered a criminal offence, and you will not receive a criminal record if you are convicted of careless driving in Ontario. Even though it is a non-criminal charge, you will be subjected to fines, driver’s license suspension, and jail time, depending on the severity of the offence. You will receive a criminal record, however, if you are convicted of dangerous driving.

What is the difference between careless driving and dangerous driving?

Many drivers assume that careless and dangerous driving are very similar. However, they are quite different. Here is a definition of dangerous driving as presented in the Criminal Code of Canada. If you compare the two, you’ll notice :

  • Jurisdiction : Careless driving is found in the Highway Traffic Act – a provincial statute – whereas dangerous driving is found in the Criminal Code of Canada.
  • Penalties : The penalties for dangerous driving are more severe – if you are found guilty of dangerous driving, you will receive a criminal conviction.
  • Application : Careless driving charges are only applicable on roadways. You cannot be charged for it at a parking lot accident, or private roads or driveways.

Whether you have been charged with careless or dangerous driving, consult your legal counsel for more information.

Types of careless driving charges in Ontario

A careless driving charge in Ontario is applicable to many situations. You can be charged with it if an accident meets the following :

  • With an accident
  • Without an accident
  • Causing death or injury

Regardless of the situation, your charges will still fall within the careless driving penalties. Just because there is a fatality doesn’t necessarily mean it is a criminal offence. It’s how the incident occurred and what led up to it, explains Sgt. Scott Parker of the COPP’s Traffic Operations Division.

If the police believe there was more in play, or there was malicious intent, you could receive a charge for criminal negligence or dangerous driving, both with stiffer penalties and the potential for a criminal conviction.

What are the types of careless driving tickets in Ontario?

male driver looking down on phone

Careless driving fines and penalties vary in Ontario based on the severity of the situation leading to you being charged. Here is some information on the type of fines and tickets you could receive.

  1. Careless driving with a fine : You receive a ticket with a fine amount and 6 demerit points. Paying the fine is your admission of guilt.
  2. Careless driving without a fine : Receiving a ticket with no fine occurs for more serious offences. You will receive a summons to appear in court. You can expect to receive a fine closer to the upper limits with the potential of a license suspension and even jail time for severe offences.

How does a careless driving ticket affect insurance?

If you receive a careless driving ticket, you could face serious insurance repercussions. It is considered one of the most serious tickets that affect insurance. Receiving a charge WILL impact insurance, a reason why many drivers are interested in fighting the ticket.

There are three main ways you could be impacted :

  • Increased costs for coverage : You could see up to a 100% increase in your monthly and yearly payments.
  • Loss of policy : Some insurers will cancel or not renew your coverage when it expires. You may also have issues finding others to offer you coverage, and if they do, expect costs to be very high compared to prior your careless driving conviction.
  • Renewal denied : When it comes to car insurance renewal, a careless driving charge is considered a bad driving conviction by many providers. They may not renew your policy and you may need specialty car insurance.

Careless Driving FAQs

One of the first things most drivers will be worried about when charged with careless driving is how many they will incur. If you are charged with careless driving and pay your fine or are summoned to court and convicted, you will receive 6 demerit points.

A careless driving charge will stay on your driving record for three years, the same as other driving convictions such as a speeding ticket in Ontario. Remember, they stay on your record from the date of the conviction.

Depending on if you have other charges or convictions, you could see increases starting at $50-$100 per month and upwards. However, the more claims and incidents can raise it to over 80%

Due to its somewhat open interpretation, careless driving charges can have some level of ambiguity, and it may make sense to fight it. For more information about how to fight a careless driving ticket, speak to a legal advisor about your situation and your legal options.

Having issues getting insurance after a careless driving charge?

If you have been charged with careless driving and are having issues getting Ontario car insurance, contact us. We’ll help you explore your options.