Careless driving tickets

12 minute read Published on Dec 18, 2023 by BrokerLink Communications

Happy family driving in their car

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.

Needless to say, the cost of a careless driving 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.

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. Tailgating or driving too closely to the car in front, leaving insufficient stopping distance.
  • Excessive speeding in a vehicle or street car.
  • 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.

The consequences of a conviction for careless driving

Many adverse 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.

Careless driving penalties 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 severe. In Ontario, you can receive a penalty of six demerit points on your licence, imprisonment for up to six months or a suspended licence for up to two years.

In Alberta, you can receive six demerit points, a fine minimum of $400 and a maximum of $2000, and a possible licence suspension and/or jail sentence of up to six months. These are serious consequences.

What is the difference between careless driving and dangerous driving?

According to provincial and territorial traffic legislation as well as the Criminal Code, driving recklessly and driving dangerously are two different crimes in Canada. The degree of carelessness and possible danger associated with a driver's actions distinguishes them. Below is a quick summary of how the two differ from one another:

Careless Driving

Careless driving is typically considered a provincial or territorial offence and is governed by their respective traffic laws. It involves driving without due care and attention or without reasonable thought for other motorists on the road.

This can involve behaviours such as not giving drivers the right-of-way, following too closely behind other vehicles, or neglecting to signal your intent when making a turn or other actions. Depending on the severity of the infraction, careless driving usually results in punishment by fines, demerit points on your licence, and even a suspension of your licence as well. It is generally seen as a less serious offence than dangerous driving.

Although it is essentially a traffic infraction and not a criminal offence, the driver may face serious consequences. For example, it can make it harder to renew your licence, and it can be a reason why your premium increases.

Dangerous driving

According to the Canadian Criminal Code, driving dangerously is illegal and is regarded as a more serious and severe infraction than driving carelessly. When someone drives dangerously, they significantly depart from the level of caution that a normal person would use under the same conditions. This might involve driving behaviours such as aggressive driving, street racing, excessive speeding, or driving while intoxicated.

Penalties for driving recklessly include fines, jail time, and a serious criminal record if you are found guilty. Since it's a criminal offence, the penalties are harsher. Driving dangerously is frequently linked to behaviours that put other people's safety at significant risk and have the potential to cause fatalities or severe injuries.

How does a careless driving ticket affect my car insurance?

As previously mentioned, your insurance policy is 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 what 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 car insurance are:

You may think that once you pay the fine for your careless driving ticket, you no longer need to worry. However, the fine is not the only cost that you will face. Although it may take a while, your insurance company will adjust your rates accordingly to that of other high-risk drivers. The insurance premium varies depending on the violation you face, such as:

  • Distracted driving
  • Illegal passing
  • Driving an unregistered vehicle
  • 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, and it can take longer to get car insurance. 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 types of auto 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.

Are parking tickets considered careless driving?

In Canada, parking tickets are not regarded as proof of careless driving. Parking infractions and careless driving are two different and distinct crimes.

When a car is moving, careless driving usually refers to actions that put other people or the vehicle in danger, like speeding, driving aggressively, or driving while distracted. It puts other drivers' safety in danger and typically carries harsher fines.

Parking in a no-parking zone, staying past the allotted time in a metered parking place, or parking in a specified area without a valid permit are examples of violations linked to where and how you park your car. Unlike careless driving, which involves driving the car in a risky or hazardous manner, these infractions usually result in monetary penalties that you will need to pay.

Unpaid parking citations do not lead to a revoked driver's licence like speeding tickets do. However, you might not be able to renew your license or your licence plates, even if your licence isn't suspended for failing to pay a parking charge. Generally, you have 15 days to contest the parking violation or pay the fine.

Does running a red light constitute careless driving?

Yes, running a red light is considered a careless driving offence. One kind of traffic control camera is a red light camera. It takes a picture of a car that has driven through a red light and approached an intersection. In order to help law enforcement officers enforce traffic regulations, cars that run red lights immediately have photos taken of them. When a car reaches the point of intersection once a traffic light has gone red, the camera is often activated.

So, what happens when you get red light camera tickets? Because they are viewed as a hazardous infraction, the registered owner of vehicles captured on video is issued a ticket by the Ministry of Transportation. The tickets provide a picture of the violation and the time and date it occurred. Here is a closer look at what the possible punishments are for running a red light:

  • Demerit points
  • A large fine
  • An offence that appears on your driving record
  • Insurance premiums rise

What if careless driving causes bodily harm?

According to section 130(3) of the Highway Traffic Act, if you are found guilty of reckless driving causing bodily harm, death, or serious injury to another person, you will be held accountable for the following:

  • Six demerit points
  • A fine ranging from $2,000 to a maximum of $50,000
  • A minimum of two years in prison
  • A licence suspension of one month for novice drivers; A maximum of five years for all motorists
  • A notable increase in insurance costs

How many demerit points for careless driving in Ontario?

A conviction for reckless driving in Ontario carries six penalty points to your driver's licence. A system called merit points is used for tracking and penalizing drivers for several types of traffic infractions. If you receive too many demerit points, you may have your licence suspended in addition to paying higher insurance rates. Under Ontario's traffic laws, careless driving is a significant penalty, and the six demerit points that come with it reflect how serious the infraction is. To keep your driving record clean, you must drive sensibly and refrain from earning penalty points.

How can I check how many demerit points I have?

To check how many careless driving demerit points you have, you'll need to contact the provincial or territorial agency responsible for maintaining driving records. Since the demerit point systems can vary by province or territory, the process may differ slightly depending on where you are located. Here are the general steps to check your demerit points:

1. Get in touch with the agency

Look up the official website or contact details of the province or territory that is in charge of driving licensing and records.

2. Get a copy of your driving record

In general, you can obtain a copy of your driving history, which will contain your demerit point total. This can be done by mail, in person at a nearby office, or online. For exact instructions, verify with the agency as the steps and any related costs may differ.

3. Give your information

In order to see your driving record, you will probably need to give personal information such as your name, date of birth, driver's licence number, and any other necessary facts.

4. Examine your record

After obtaining your driving record, you can check the number of demerit points you have accrued by looking over your record and seeing what date they occurred, along with the circumstances of the event.

As you can see, requesting your driving record is fairly easy. Just remember that the process will be different from province to province. So, how many demerit points do you have?

Demerit points for G1 licence holders

In Ontario, G1 drivers can still be given demerit points if they are caught breaking the law while driving, and they will show up on their driving record, even though G1 driving restrictions are in place. So, what does this mean? Well, after receiving their G2, this may have an impact on the driver's premium. An individual whose license is suspended may eventually get too many demerit points. Later, they will need to appear at a meeting to defend their license eligibility.

Furthermore, any points you receive will be kept on file and on your license for a period of two years. These points will still be deducted from your score if you pass the G2 exam within that two-year period. You may also need to pay a higher insurance rate when you get your G2 license.

How long do demerit points last?

How long do demerit points last ? is a common question many drivers who have been caught reckless driving may have. Ultimately, it depends on where in Canada you committed the offence. For example, in Ontario, demerit points can last anywhere between 2 to 6 years on your driving record, depending on how serious the offence is.

Be a responsible driver with BrokerLink

At BrokerLink, we understand the importance of being a responsible driver, which is why we are committed to providing motorists across Canada with resources that can help them update their driving safety comprehension. With safe driving comes the ability to not only save on your car insurance with a safe driver discount, but it also helps get you to where you need to go seamlessly.

Whether you're a new driver or consider yourself a seasoned professional, here is a closer look at some safe driving tips you may consider helpful:

Plan your trip in advance

Make sure you know where you’re going before getting behind the wheel. Planning your trip in advance can aid in reducing your chances of looking at your phone and potentially causing an accident.

Charge your phone entirely

Make sure your phone is charged fully just in case you experience an emergency situation. Carry a phone charger or battery bank with you just in case. Most newer model vehicles have USB ports or wireless charging spots.

Keep your windows clear

Make sure that every car window is visible. Try not to pile bags too high to prevent blind areas.

Check your fluid and tire pressure levels

Check to see that the fluid and tire pressure levels on your car are at acceptable levels.

Fill your gas tank frequently

If you find yourself driving in a new location or somewhere where you may end up trapped in traffic, keep your tank full of gas, just in case.

Don't Drink and Drive

Never drink and drive. If you're going out, make sure you have a ride set up beforehand or opt to take a cab or Uber and leave your vehicle at home.

Don't drive while tired or exhausted

If you are feeling very sleepy while driving, ask a friend to take over, call for a cab, or find a place to stop until you are feeling more awake.

Avoid distractions while driving

Do not read, make phone calls, reapply makeup, or send texts while operating a motor vehicle. To avoid temptation, think about stashing these kinds of things away from your reach.

Because we know there are all types of drivers on the road, we also have a motorcycle safety guide available for those who prefer handlebars instead of a wheel.

Contact BrokerLink

If you would like to learn more about careless driving and how it can impact your insurance, get in touch with one of our brokers at any time. You can reach us over the phone, through email, or by visiting one of our numerous locations across Canada.

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Careless driving ticket FAQs

What is the penalty for careless driving in Ontario?

Depending on the particulars of the incident, careless driving changes in Ontario can result in a variety of punishments, but normally speaking, they involve fines between $400 and $2,000. Six demerit points are also added to your driving record after a conviction for careless driving, which may raise your insurance costs, similar to how accidents affect your insurance. In more serious situations, especially if your conduct caused harm or death, you can be subject to a criminal record, licence suspension, and even jail time.

How long does careless driving stay on record in Ontario?

Being convicted for careless driving in Ontario normally remains on your record for three years after the offence—not the conviction date. But it can affect your insurance costs over a longer time frame—often up to six years. If you rack up too many demerit points, you could be subject to more severe punishments, such as having your licence suspended. To reduce the negative effects of a careless driving charge on your record and insurance rates, it's essential that you drive carefully and obtain legal counsel if you are facing such a charge.

Can you fight a careless driving ticket in Ontario?

In Ontario, you can dispute a ticket for careless driving. You would normally need to file for a hearing and make your case in person in order to accomplish this. Obtaining any supporting documents, images, witness statements, or additional relevant records is crucial for your defence. If you want to increase your chances of a successful defence, you might also think about getting legal counsel or representation. Be ready to defend your position and provide evidence that you weren't driving carelessly as the ticket claims. The quality of your defence and the judge's evaluation of the evidence will determine the result.

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.

Is careless driving a criminal offence?

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.

If you have any questions, contact one of our local branches.