In Canada, driving without regard for the safety of the public could result in a criminal charge of dangerous driving. The penalties for a successful conviction of dangerous driving can include jail, fines, licence suspension, and a criminal record.
However, if you are charged with dangerous driving, there are defence options and a qualified criminal lawyer can help you determine which defence is appropriate for your situation.
Defences may include:
Dangerous driving is a criminal offence found under section 320.13(1) of the Criminal Code of Canada. This section looks to penalize anyone who operates a conveyance in a way that poses a danger to the public. A ‘conveyance’ includes motor vehicles, vessels, aircraft, and trains.
A successful conviction of dangerous driving requires a “marked departure” from normal driving behaviour, as per the Supreme Court of Canada in the case of R v Beatty (2008). A “marked departure” from normal driving behaviour requires more than just a momentary lapse of attention in an otherwise good driver. It requires that an individual operates a conveyance in a way that demonstrates a blatant disregard for the safety of the public. The term “dangerous” refers to any kind of driving that poses a risk to the public, even if those actions don’t result in an accident.
If you are charged with dangerous driving, an experienced criminal defence lawyer will be able to assist you in understanding your charges and what all your options are.
There is no one definition of what is, or is not, dangerous driving in Canada. Consequently, police officers have a lot of discretion in determining if someone is driving in a way that is markedly unreasonable given all conditions and circumstances. Circumstances which may increase the chances of your driving being considered ‘dangerous’ may include changes to the weather or traffic.
A dangerous driving conviction requires that the Crown prosecutor demonstrate that an accused has intended to drive in a dangerous manner, given the circumstances, and that a driver was actually driving in a way that was dangerous to the public. The prosecutor will compare the actions of an accused to how a reasonable driver would have acted under the same circumstances.
Section 320.13 of the Criminal Code of Canada contains three different types of dangerous driving:
As their names suggest, sections 320.13(2) and (3) are situations where dangerous driving has caused injuries to others or death.
If convicted of dangerous driving under section 320.13 of the Criminal Code, you could face penalties of:
There are many ways in which to defend a dangerous driving charge in Canada. However, it is important that you contact an experienced defence lawyer who can properly assess your case in order to determine the best approach.
Since a conviction for dangerous driving requires that a Crown prosecutor prove that a driver demonstrated a “marked departure” from what would be considered safe by a reasonable driver in the same situation, a momentary lapse of judgment is often not enough to convict someone. There is no expectation of perfection from drivers and thus most cases that are able to demonstrate only a momentary lapse in attention will be insufficient to ground a conviction for dangerous driving.
Another potential defence for dangerous driving arises if you have any sort of medical episode which caused your actions to become involuntary. If the Crown cannot show that you intended to drive in a way that could be considered unsafe to the public given all the circumstances, then a conviction for dangerous driving becomes far more difficult. These medical episodes can include blackouts, hallucinations, and seizures.
There exists no defence for dangerous driving if you are driving after voluntarily consuming drugs or alcohol. The voluntary consumption of drugs and/or alcohol under circumstances in which you knew or ought to have known that your ability to drive might be impaired is sufficient to support a conviction for dangerous driving.
However, if you have unknowingly consumed drugs or alcohol, then a defence may be available. This involuntary consumption could be enough to negate the intention requirement. For example, if someone drives home after unknowingly being drugged at a bar, then they may be acquitted because they were unaware of the potential side effects the drugs would have on their ability to drive.
Much of a dangerous driving conviction depends upon the specific circumstances of the case. In order to determine if there are any unique or exceptional circumstances of your dangerous driving charge that could aid in your defence, you should speak with an experienced defence lawyer.
If you have been charged with dangerous driving, it is in your best interest to speak to a defence lawyer to begin determining what your options are. The team at Pyzer Criminal Lawyers is experienced in dealing with dangerous driving matters and is prepared to fight for you. To speak with a member of our team, give us a call at 416-658-1818 or request a free case evaluation on our website, https://www.torontodefencelawyers.com/.