Driving that ranges from bad to dangerous can be prosecuted as “careless driving” under the Motor Vehicle Act or as “dangerous operation of a motor vehicle” under the Criminal Code, depending on the severity of the driving. The difference between the two is critical, as a criminal conviction constitutes an automatic breach of insurance coverage and results in a denial of insurance benefits if any damage has resulted from the driving.
Motor Vehicle Act – Careless Driving
The offence of careless driving is set out under Section 144 of the Motor Vehicle Act:
144 (1) A person must not drive a motor vehicle on a highway
(a) without due care and attention,
(b) without reasonable consideration for other persons using the highway, or
(c) at a speed that is excessive relative to the road, traffic, visibility or weather conditions.
(2) A person who contravenes subsection (1) (a) or (b) is liable on conviction to a fine of not less than $100 and, subject to this minimum fine, section 4 of the Offence Act applies.
The maximum penalty is a 6 month jail sentence or a $2,000 fine or both.
Criminal Code – Dangerous Operation of a Motor Vehicle
Dangerous operation of a motor vehicle contrary to Section 249(1)(a) of the Criminal Code is a serious offence:
249. (1) Every one commits an offence who operates
(a) a motor vehicle in a manner that is dangerous to the public, having regard to all the circumstances, including the nature, condition and use of the place at which the motor vehicle is being operated and the amount of traffic that at the time is or might reasonably be expected to be at that place;