The Canadian Criminal Offence of Dangerous Driving comes in different shades. There is dangerous driving; dangerous driving causing bodily harm; dangerous driving causing death. Regardless of the shade, this offence is distinct from offences such as careless driving and not just a mere negligence matter which may find one defending a personal injury case. This offence calls for a “Marked Departure” from the norm not mere carelessness. What is a “Marked Departure” is a key decision the Court will have to resolve. What is clear is that one can not reason backwards from the consequences of the driving to conclude it is a “Marked Departure”. The analysis requires a more extensive analysis and a key focus is on the nature of the driving itself. An important concern in this area is public safety.
A person charged with Dangerous driving offences can in addition to defending the criminal case , find him or herself as a defendant in a civil case for damages. Depending on the seriousness of the case , a penitentiary sentence is not out of the order. Sometimes these charges are coupled with other charges, for example failing to remain at the scene of an accident which can compound matters. Apart from jail time, driving prohibitions add further restrictions on freedom.
Dangerous Driving can commence in many different ways. Someone could have stolen a car , gotten caught and a police chase ensues. Someone could have a drug addiction and should not have taken the wheel in the first place. Someone could have had a heated argument with one’s spouse and filled with anger and not thinking clearly jumped into a car and driven in a manner that attracts the long arm of the law.
Dangerous driving is not limited to cars. Defendants have been successfully convicted in motorcycle accidents where a marked departure is present and the motorcycle may have collided with a car and then went off on its own seriously injuring a pedestrian on a nearby walkway.
Driving is a privilege and not a right. When we lose our sense of self-control, reason, caution and jump into a vehicle , depending on the circumstances, the wheels could be set in motion with multi adverse consequences to the driver and the public.*
William Poulos, Barrister
* This blog is not a substitute for legal advice. Should you require legal advice, a lawyer should be consulted to advise on the specific circumstances of your case.