Ottawa Dangerous Driving Lawyers
Your ability to drive is intrinsically connected to your ability to attend school, secure and maintain employment, and enjoy the cultural and recreational resources in your community. A dangerous driving charge might result in the loss of privileges and imposition of penalties that make your life significantly harder.
Consider the impact of these penalties on your life:
- Loss of all driving privileges
- Demerit points added to your license which will enhance any moving violation penalties
- Increase in insurance premiums
- Criminal record
- Prison sentence
Therefore, any charge of dangerous driving—a criminal charge carrying with it the stigma of a criminal record—can gravely impact your life and livelihood. Such charges need to be vigorously defended. Call Auger Hollingsworth Ottawa dangerous driving defence lawyers now to protect your rights and ability to continue driving.
What is Dangerous Driving?
Dangerous driving encompasses a range of behaviours: excessive speed, abrupt and unsignaled lane changes, aggressive driving techniques, tailgating, driving over curbs, failure to obey road signs and traffic lights, street racing, careless and distracted driving, etc.
If someone is injured or died as a result of poor driving, penalties will be more strict and you will be vulnerable to civil suit to recover damages as well as criminal prosecution.
There are degrees of culpability that are based on the facts of each case:
- Careless driving under the Highway Traffic Act (this is not criminal)
- Dangerous driving causing bodily harm or death (this is criminal)
- Dangerous driving (this is criminal)
- Criminal negligence (this is criminal)
Difference Between Dangerous Driving and Careless Driving
The difference between dangerous driving, the more severe offence, and careless driving requires an examination of the facts surrounding the accident or encounter with the police. It is important to note that the damage caused is not evidence of dangerous driving. The inquiry must focus on the manner of driving itself, because accidents can occur from acts of careless or negligent driving that do not rise to a criminal standard. Mistakes or accidents are not always criminal. The judge will need to examine a range of facts to determine whether the greater or lesser charge is appropriate:
- Where did the driving offence take place—a highway, a residential neighbourhood, a road adjacent to a school or playground, a rural road, a city street, a pedestrian walkway
- The amount of traffic at the time of the offence
- The weather conditions at that time
- The physical condition of the vehicle
- Any relevant conditions that might affect the driver or the road conditions, such as children in the car, road repairs, double-parked cars, other activity on the street or sidewalks, or another accident
Penalties for Dangerous Driving
The penalties and sentences for dangerous driving offences can be complex and you should get the direct input of an experienced criminal lawyer to understand this area of the law. The Criminal Code itself only sets put maximum penalties. For example, a conviction for dangerous driving that caused bodily harm to another person can increase the prison term to up to 10 years. If the offence resulted in the death of another, the maximum prison term increases to 14 years. Repeat offenders pay a larger fine, lose their driver’s license for a longer period of time, and are sentenced to longer prison terms. The judge in each case needs to fashion a sentence that suits the specific circumstances of each case.
Defences for Dangerous Driving
In dangerous driving cases, the role of the defence is to introduce reasonable doubt as to the validity of the prosecution’s version of what happened. This requires an examination of the actions of the police during their initial confrontation and investigation. A savvy defence strategy entails a review of the circumstances of the arrest to ensure that your rights were respected throughout the process, as required by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Defence lawyers need to determine whether the police fully identified and interviewed all available witnesses and properly secured all of the evidence at the scene. Sometimes police misinterpret the scene, building a narrative on a review of only a portion of the evidence or preconceived notions of what might have happened.
Your defence requires a thorough examination of the traffic and road conditions, the weather, the state of the road, the condition of all the involved vehicles, and all circumstances surrounding the incident.
In addition, a defence strategy might present evidence that the accident was not the result of dangerous driving but of a momentary lapse of attention rather than an intentional pattern of dangerous driving. Mistakes are not all criminal. Another defence might be that the driver overall met the standard of care required to drive. There are also medical defences. Unexpected medical impairments—black-outs, hallucinations, or seizures—might become defences to a charge of dangerous driving. Such medical defences must be unexpected in order to effectively counter a criminal charge.
Contact our Dangerous Driving Lawyers Today
Choosing an Ottawa criminal defence lawyer can help preserve your rights and defences to criminal charges. At Auger Hollingsworth, we offer a free consultation session during which you can assess our lawyers and we can assess the strength of the prosecution’s claims. During this free consultation, we will:
- Review the criminal charges or the request for appearance or subpoena for documents, and any police reports and other documents.
- We will listen to your story and map out the areas for investigation, begin to compile a list of witnesses, and compose the various strategies the facts and law offer.
- We will provide you with an estimate of the cost of legal services.
- If we are unable to provide you with a defence, we will refer you to other counsel.
Call (613) 699-8192 today to schedule a free consultation with the knowledgeable Ottawa criminal defence lawyers at Auger Hollingsworth.