Section 249 of the Criminal Code of Canada covers a charge of Dangerous Driving.
A Dangerous Driving conviction can have a serious impact on your life. Call Daley Byers for a free consultation regarding your particular situation. We can help!
What the crown needs to prove – Elements of the offence
There are numerous components to the charge of Dangerous Driving.
- All circumstances must be considered including
- Nature of the place of occurrence;
- Condition of the place of occurrence;
- Use of the place of occurrence;
- The amount of traffic that is or might reasonably be expected to be present
- There must be a danger to the public who were present or who might have been expected to be present. (Note: A passenger in a car is considered a member of the public.)
- There must be intent to operate the vehicle in a way which, viewed objectively, constitutes a departure from the standard of care expected of a prudent driver in the circumstances.
Penalties if Convicted of Dangerous Driving
- Criminal record
- An automatic one-year licence suspension.
- Possibility of jail
- Substantive insurance rate increase for at least 5 years
Importance of the Right to Remain Silent
When a person is being investigated for a charge of Dangerous Driving it is important to exercise the right to remain silent. Often times where there exists aberrant driving or an accident, the best evidence against a person is their own statement made to the police. Every person has the right to remain silent.In most cases of Dangerous Driving this right should be exercised.
However, should a statement be made, all is not lost. The Supreme Court of Canada has held that where an accused person has provided a statement to the police pursuant to his obligations to report an accident under the Highway Traffic Act, the statement is inadmissible and a violation of s. 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. R. v. White,  2 S.C.R. 417
Furthermore, statements can be excluded for lack of rights to counsel, or if provided because of coercion, promise or threat.
At Daley, Byers we take every measure to defend these cases diligently. We will drive the route taken by our client. We use video and still pictures in the presentation of our defence. Witnesses are interviewed in advance of trial and prepared to present their evidence. No stone is left unturned.
Ken Byers, a founding partner, majored in physics prior to entering law school. This science background provides a significant advantage when attacking the police evidence relating to their observations.
Accident re-construction is often used by the Police to explain what happened and it is as much a guessing game as it is anything else. The police analyze the scene after the fact, take measurements and pictures, and then by applying various formulas attempt to re-create the occurrence. This evidence is often open to attack and we have won numerous cases by destroying the accident reconstruction evidence.
Reduction to a lesser offence
Various charges exist regarding safety with respect to the operation of a motor vehicle. There exists a continuum from the minor traffic offence to the more significant traffic violation of Careless Driving and finally to the criminal charge of Dangerous Driving.
In many cases there exists an overlap between what constitutes Careless Driving and what constitutes Dangerous Driving. The legal test for Careless Driving is “driving without due care and attention, or without reasonable attention for other persons using the highway.”
Clearly a normal prudent driver (the test for Dangerous Driving) would not operate the vehicle “without due care and attention or without reasonable attention for other person using the highway.” (the test for Careless Driving.)
In many instances, a well prepared presentation to the Crown Attorney can result in a charge of Dangerous Driving (Dangerous Operation) being reduced to a Traffic violation whether it is a minor traffic charge such as “improper lane change” or to the more serious traffic charge of Careless Driving.
At Daley, Byers we attack a Dangerous Driving charge in a 2 step process.
- Determine if the case can be won. If the answer is yes, we proceed to trial or attempt to negotiate the complete withdrawal of the charge sometimes in exchange for community service hours or the taking of a driving education course. If the Crown is not willing to negotiate we provide our client with a full assessment of the case and seek instructions to proceed to trial.
- If the case is difficult to win, we will, together with our client, prepare a presentation for the Crown, which may include letters of reference, a good driving abstract (if available), proof of employment or enrollment at an education facility, proof a completion of a driving education course or an undertaking to complete such a course and proof of completed community service hours. Using this material, we will negotiate with the Crown for a reduced charge under the Highway Traffic Act, to avoid a criminal record and the automatic suspension of driving licence.
The founding partners, Bruce Daley and Ken Byers each have over 32 years of experience in the Criminal Courts of Ontario. They are familiar with all of the Courts and their participants. This experience is invaluable when negotiating with the Crown.
Dangerous Driving causing Bodily Harm or Death
In addition to Dangerous Operation (Dangerous Driving) there are the charges of Dangerous Operation causing bodily harm s. 249 (3) Criminal Code of Canada , and Dangerous Operation cause death s.249(4) Criminal Code of Canada.
In these cases in addition to proving the elements of Dangerous Driving the Crown must also establish beyond reasonable doubt the causal connection to the injury or death.
The penalties of these upgraded charges are significantly greater than the charge of Dangerous Driving on its own. A jail term is the norm for a charge involving bodily harm; the more significant the injury the greater the jail term. A substantive jail is the norm when a death occurs.
Obviously the degree of recklessness is also taken into consideration on sentencing in all Dangerous Driving cases.
Dangerous Driving s. 249 Criminal Code
Section 249 of the Criminal Code of Canada covers the Dangerous Operation of motor vehicles, vessels(boats) and aircraft. (Note – subsection b of s. 249 refers to a vessel or any water skis, surf-board, water sled or other towed object on or over any of the internal waters of Canada.)
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 and on conviction is liable to a fine of not less than $400 and not more than $2,000 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than six months, or to both, and in addition his or her licence or permit may be suspended for a period of not more than two years.
Penalty for Careless Driving also includes:
- Six (6) demerit points issued by the Ministry of Transportation
- Substantive increase in insurance rates
- 30 day suspension for G1, G2, M1 or M2 licence holder