Have you been charged with Dangerous operation under s. 249 of the Criminal Code?
Section 249 makes driving a motor vehicle in a manner that is dangerous to the public, “having regard to all the circumstances” a criminal offence.
What is the difference between dangerous and careless driving?
Careless driving is a Highway Traffic Act offence. It is defined as driving without due care and attention or without reasonable consideration for other persons using the road. If convicted, you are looking at 6 demerit points that would stay on your record for 2 years from the date of the offence.
Dangerous driving is a Criminal Code offence. If convicted (or even discharged), you are looking at $1000 fine (which constitutes a criminal record), 12 months minimum absolute driving prohibition and dire insurance consequences. If you have no permanent status in Canada (e.g. a visa student), a conviction of Dangerous will automatically get you deported.
The distinction between driving without due care and driving dangerously is not obvious and different judges will not interpret it in the same way. This is why it is vitally important to get a competent criminal lawyer who has experience in defending these charges.
So how can you win a Dangerous Driving case?
Different scenarios call for different defences. It is important to remember that a momentary lapse of attention does not support even a Careless driving, let alone a Dangerous driving. So if you, for example, dropped your cigarette and that drew your attention away from the road for a split second resulting in an accident, you have a solid defence. Of course, sometimes the Crown tenders evidence of bad driving that has been going on for some period of time. These cases are much harder to win. The fate of such a case is likely to be sealed during cross examination of the Crown’s witnesses. It is therefore of utmost importance to get a lawyer who can do it skillfully. Dangerous driving is often combined with an Impaired Driving and Over 80 charge.