There are many distractions for drivers, including: mobile phones, navigation and entertainment systems, pets, passengers and more! Distractions like these can lead to drivers receiving a ticket for careless driving. It can happen to any driver, regardless of how well-intentioned they are. The cost of a distracted driving traffic ticket can be significant.
All drivers must avoid careless driving for their safety, the safety of their passengers, and the safety of others on the road.
To learn more about careless driving tickets and their effects, keep reading.
What is careless driving?
In most Canadian provinces, you will find careless driving defined generally as: driving without due care and attention or without reasonable consideration for other persons using the highway. Careless driving is different from dangerous driving. Dangerous driving is driving in a manner that poses harm to the public, even when traffic, weather conditions, and the use of the place can be reasonably expected.
To avoid being a careless driver, be sure to know what actions police officers classify as careless behaviour, for example:
- Failing to check your mirror before reversing or entering traffic.
- Failing to maintain a safe distance from other vehicles.
- Excessive speeding
- Incidents involving cyclists or pedestrians.
- Distraction using mobile devices.
- Running a red light or stop sign — this includes the so-called “rolling stop,” in which a driver doesn’t come to a complete stop.
- Any event that reflects a lack of adequate care.
The consequences of conviction for careless driving
Many negative outcomes can come from careless driving. Not only could you receive a ticket and a fine, but eventually your insurance company will adjust your rates based on your driving record. That’s an avoidable extra expense! When your policy renews you may see your rate change based on the penalty.
The penalties for careless driving are severe, and a conviction for this offence will affect your right to drive and insurance rates for three years or more. A person typically needs to wait for approximately five years before being eligible for a violation-free discount with their insurance provider. Careless driving can even affect persons applying for jobs where a driver’s licence is required.
Overall, careless driving convictions are very serious. In Ontario, you can receive:
- a penalty of six demerit points on your licence,
- a possible imprisonment for up to six months, and
- a suspended licence for up to two years.
In Alberta, you can receive six demerit points, a fine minimum of $400 and maximum of $2000, as well as a possible license suspension and/or jail sentence up to six months. It’s no joke!
How does a careless driving ticket affect my car insurance?
As previously mentioned, your insurance policy may be up for review once a year. When this occurs, your driving record is pulled to see if there are any changes such as speeding or careless driving tickets. This information is important for evaluating why type of driver you are, and careless driving tickets can have a costly impact on your insurance premium.
Some of the impacts careless driving tickets have on your insurance are:
You may think that once you pay the fine for your carless driving ticket that you no longer need to worry. However, the fine is not the only cost that you will face. Although it may take awhile, your insurance company will adjust your rates accordingly. The insurance premium varies depending on the violation you face, such as:
- Distracted driving
- Illegal passing
- Not stopping at a stop sign
- Using a cell phone while driving
- Driving without valid insurance
- Not wearing a seatbelt
What if my car insurance company won’t cover me?
If you receive multiple careless driving tickets or commit other offences such as driving under the influence, your insurance company may not renew your policy. Serious convictions or multiple traffic tickets make it likely that other insurers will also refuse to cover you. This makes finding and affording insurance difficult, but you need insurance to drive a car legally in Canada! So what can you do?
Your insurance broker may be able to help you find coverage with a “non-standard” insurer. Non-standard personal automobile insurers provide insurance solutions for drivers who are unable to get insurance through regular insurance companies because they are deemed too high a risk. Non-standard insurers will provide limited coverage and rates are generally higher, based on your risk level.
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Careless driving tickets FAQs
Is careless driving a criminal charge?
Careless driving is not a criminal offence in Canada, however, it is an offence under some provincial laws, for example, the Ontario Highway Traffic Act.
How much does a careless driving ticket cost?
Depending on both the severity, circumstance and location of where you received your ticket, fines can range from $400 to $2000.
Is it worth fighting a careless driving ticket?
If you believe the ticket you received is unfair, you are entitled to fight it. While waiting for a trial date, the ticket does not go onto your insurance and demerit points are kept off your record. You may use the waiting time to review your legal options. If the officer or witnesses fail to appear for the court date, the charges may be dropped.