I Have Been Charged With Dangerous Driving – What Happens Next?
Dangerous Driving Defined
Dangerous driving is defined in Section 320.13(1) of Canada’s Criminal Code and occurs when a person operates a motor vehicle in a manner that is dangerous to the public. In other words, a dangerous driving charge typically arises where a driver demonstrates a reckless disregard for public safety and endangers the lives of others. As with all serious criminal offences, there are varying degrees of dangerous driving (from least to most severe):
Section 320.13(1): Dangerous driving in or near a public place, such as a public highway, road, street, avenue, parkway, parking lot, driveway, square, or school grounds. A public place is any place to which the public has access.
A dangerous driving charge does not require people to have been near the dangerous operation of a motor vehicle. You can be charged with dangerous driving simply by operating a motor vehicle in a dangerous manner in a public place; creating potential harm to the public can support a charge of dangerous driving.
To be convicted of dangerous driving, the Crown Attorney must prove the following elements of the offence beyond a reasonable doubt:
- You were operating a motor vehicle at the time of the offence;
- You operated the motor vehicle in a manner that was, or could reasonably be expected to be, dangerous to the public;
- The lives or safety of the public were or may have been put in danger as a result of your driving; and
- You failed to exercise the same care in operating your vehicle that a reasonable person would exercise in similar circumstances.
Section 320.13(2): Dangerous driving causing bodily harm. “Bodily harm” means any hurt or injury to a person that interferes with the health or comfort of the person and that is “more than merely transient or trifling in nature”. This means that the injury must be serious and have lasting effects; and
Section 320.13(3): Dangerous driving causing death.
To be convicted of dangerous driving causing bodily harm and/or dangerous driving causing death, the Crown Attorney must only prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the dangerous driving caused or contributed to bodily harm or death. It is not necessary for the Crown Attorney to prove that you intended to cause bodily harm or death.
A charge of dangerous driving under Section 320.13(1) of the Criminal Code is a “hybrid offence” which means that that the Crown Attorney can determine whether to prosecute the charge by way of summary conviction (minor offence) or indictment (serious offence). If you are convicted of dangerous driving under Section 320.13(1), the penalties include:
- Summary Conviction: Imprisonment term of up to 2 years; or
- Indictment: Imprisonment term of up to 10 years.
Section 320.13(1), dangerous driving causing bodily harm, is also a hybrid offence.
Section 320.2 of the Criminal Code (Punishment in case of bodily harm) lists the following potential penalties:
- Minimum Punishment (Summary Conviction or Indictable): (a) First Offence – Fine of $1,000.00; (b) Second Offence – Imprisonment term of 30 days; and (c) For Each Subsequent Offence – Imprisonment term of 120 days; and
- Summary Conviction: Maximum imprisonment term of 2 years less a day; or
- Indictable: Maximum imprisonment term of 14 years.
If you are convicted of dangerous driving causing death under Section 320.13(3), Section 320.21 of the Criminal Code (Punishment in case of death) states that the potential penalties include life imprisonment and a minimum punishment of: (a) First Offence – Fine of $1,000.00; (b) Second Offence – Imprisonment term of 30 days; and (c) For Each Subsequent Offence – Imprisonment term of 120 days.
Section 320.22: Aggravating Factors for Sentencing – Dangerous Driving Causing Death
To determine sentencing for a dangerous driving causing death conviction, the Court will consider the following aggravating factors (reasons to impose harsher penalties):
- Whether the dangerous driving caused bodily harm or death to more than one person;
- Whether you were driving in a street race at the time the dangerous driving occurred;
- If a person under the age of 16 was a passenger in your vehicle;
- Whether you were being paid to operate the motor vehicle;
- Your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at the time of committing the offence;
- Whether you were operating a large motor vehicle; and
- If you were permitted to operate a motor vehicle.
The criminal justice system is a complicated and intimidating landscape; particularly, when your liberty is in jeopardy. Jeff Mazin knows the lay of the land and is here to help you navigate your way to the best possible outcome. If you have a question or need assistance, reach out and book a free consultation.