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Careless Driving, Distracted Driving and Dangerous Driving

All three of these offences relate to irresponsible driving on the road. Whether you are driving a car, truck or public transit vehicle, you are accountable for your actions while behind the wheel. While most people can probably pick out what actions they should avoid while driving, they may not always be able to classify what falls into each category.

As outlined in an article published by he Globe and Mail earlier this year, distracted driving generally targets those who use their cellular phones or another type of mobile device while driving. This excludes mounted phones or GPS systems. However, at the article describes, answering or ending a call on a mounted phone is okay, but trying to key in information, such as a text message or an address, should be done while you are pulled over or before you start driving.

Calling an emergency number, such as 911, is okay as well, although police officers advise that if you can, pull over first.

Careless driving is described as anything that could put the lives of other drivers or pedestrians at risk while behind the wheel. Many people may wonder if adjusting their radio stations, or sipping a coffee or eating a sandwich would constitute careless driving. The article generalizes that these actions could be considered careless driving if it causes an accident or injury to another person.

Take this example: you are looking down at your car radio to try and find a station to listen to. Suddenly, some pedestrian walks out in front of you, and you swerve onto a sidewalk to avoid hitting the pedestrian. Instead, you damage a lamppost as you swerve. It’s very possible this situation could result in a careless driving offence.

Essentially, drivers should not be taking their eyes off the road. Anything that causes a driver to do so for longer than a few seconds could constitute careless driving if an accident or dangerous manoeuvre ensues.

Distracted driving and careless driving are not technically considered criminal offences, as they fall under the Highway Traffic Act of Ontario. They are pseudo-criminal type of offences in the sense that they may carry some jail or imprisonment consequences, but are not officially part of the Criminal Code of Canada.

Dangerous driving is a criminal offence. This offence is when a driving manoeuvre results in bodily harm or a fatality. If the driver was under the influence of alcohol or a drug, he or she may also be criminally charged with impaired driving as well.

If you have questions surrounding dangerous or careless driving charges, it’s best to consult with a criminal defence lawyer. He or she will be able to assist you with identifying if you have been charged with a criminal offence, and what your options are for fighting the charges.

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