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Ontario Highway Traffic Act

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careless driving charge - need advice
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 03, 2010 6:44 pm 
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Location: niagara on
I was charged with careless driving last night. I am hoping anyone here can give me advice . Right now I am upset, angry, stiff and sore and don't know if I should just go right into my long drawn out account of what happened or just give a basic outline and answer questions anyone may have. I feel I have been charged unfairly (although I am sure most people feel the same when charged). Again, thanks in advance to anyone who answers.
Alison


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 03, 2010 6:49 pm 
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 03, 2010 9:25 pm 
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Location: niagara on
I approached a stop sign at a "T" intersection in a 50km zone with the intention of turning left. It is a rural location, 5:30pm, it was snowing very lightly and I did not consider the roads slippery.
I was actually doing less than 50km because I tend to roll to a stop sign a little bit (I know not good) when I pressed the brake it went straight to the floor, the pedal was loose. I tried again with the same result. I went through the stop sign without stopping, turned left and drove straight into the ditch on the right hand side of the road I turned onto. It didn't even occur to me to use the emergency brake (my fault). There were witnesses who happened to be standing around and a few cars stopped.
I called the CAA and they asked if the police had been called. Somone in the group said yes and the CAA operator said in that case I have to call back when I get a police report. Fair enough.
The police officer arrived an hour and ten minutes later. He took my statement and witnesses statements and then said I wasn't being honest, in his opinion I was driving too fast for the road conditions. At least 5 people told the officer that there was no squealing or slamming on brakes and I was not driving too fast (in their opinion). He still said I was not being truthful. He proceeded to say with sarcasm "oh look, here comes a car to the intersection, he's stopping no problem, oh look here comes another one and he's stopping too. There is definitely a stop sign and no one else seems to be having a problem stopping". An older gentlemen who witnessed and stayed with me the whole time shook his head at the officer and stepped away. The homeowner whose house it happened in front of stayed with me the whole time and as the officer walked away from that conversation she said "wow, what is his problem he is a %$#@. I want to add that I was not rude in any way to this officer. I was very scared, quiet, calm, and answered questions politely.
He told me and the witnesses that Niagara has the the most accidents in the province and because of that, everytime an officer is called to a car accident someone is charged and because I was the only one in the vehicle, I would be charged. The homeowner said she had never heard that before and it was a statement he repeated 3 more times before it was over. He said I was being charged $490 and losing 4 demerit points. I asked how I could prove my innocence and he said that I could pay to have the brakes examined but that might not prove anything. He went back to his car and said to wait because the tow truck was on its way.
45 minutes later a wrecker and flat bed showed up. The wrecker pulled the car from the ditch onto a level surface. The officer asked one of the tow drivers and my husband (who arrived as our house was only three doors down) to witness him getting in the car, putting it in neutral and applying the brake. He came back to where I was standing with the homeowner and said when he applied the brake it did stop the car but the pedal was loose and went all the way to the floor so I would still be charged but "to be fair to me" he would write in his report that the pedal did go all the way down which in his opinion shouldn't happen. He handed me the ticket.
The tow drivers approached me and said I was to pay them $200. I said no, I had coverage and they said it was called in by the officer as a cash call and therefore was not covered. I called the CAA and was basically told that I was not covered because of the way the call was "proccessed". She said I would have to leave a message on her supervisors voice mail and deal with him in the morning but I would not be getting reimbursed. My husband drove the 15 miles to a bank machine and came back with the $200. He asked for a receipt and the driver said "sorry, $200 is the cash price, receipts extra". My husband said "so I have to drive back to town for more money to get a receipt?" and they said they had other calls and couldn't wait around. They then moved my car to my driveway which was about less than 200 yards from the accident site and left.
This morning I was impatiently waiting for a call back from the CAA and so I called them. The operator kept putting me on hold and coming back saying she couldn't find any evidence of my second call to them when I left the message on the supervisors voicemail. She kept looking but never found it. She said she would have a supervisor call me within 24 to 48 hours but there was basically nothing wrong with the service I received. I said that I wanted to be reimbursed and she said I would have to get the tow company to reimburse me. I said it looked really bad on the CAA's part that a driver would tell a customer they had to pay extra for a receipt and she said once the driver arrives to your car, any complaint is between you and the tow truck driver and the CAA is not responsible for the tow truck drivers actions.
My husband called the insurance agent and was told they would no longer be insuring me and his rate will increase regardless and stay that way for 3 years. If I was found not guilty his rate would still increase. We have two vehicles, hubby is the main driver and I am listed as an occasional. We both have no prior accidents. It was an older van with basic coverage.
I would like to fight this with a traffic fighter expert because they seem to be quite successful, but the thing that bothers me is that if the charge is dropped everyone in that courtroom will be looking at me thinking that I beat the charge by paying for the expert not because I am innocent. I know that shouldn't bother me but it does.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 03, 2010 9:54 pm 
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Careless driving is one of the most serious charges under the Highway Traffic Act, but it is also one of the hardest to prove. In order for them to get a conviction, they have to prove that you were driving in a manner that was a "departure from the standard of care of a reasonable and prudent driver." This is not so easily done. The consequences for your case could include a large fine, licence suspension, and 6 demerit points - not 4. Any time a driver is charged with careless driving in a collision or crash, a common practice, sadly, is that the insurance company terminates his or her coverage. If you are found not guilty you should be able to get coverage again without too many issues. Some other insurance companies will cover you even with the charge, and may offer to lower it when you are found not guilty, or may take the "innocent until proven guilty" approach. They're all different.

Get a mechanic to inspect the brakes and pedal, and write some sort of report. Insist on it. Heck, you're going to have to get the brakes serviced anyway, why not get more evidence to help your case? That, combined with the officer stepping on the brake and saying that it went all the way to the floor, should be sufficient to prove that your brakes may have inadvertently failed. Needless to say, there's a big difference between stopping a vehicle going 2-3 km/h and one going about 50. The witnesses should also help when the case goes to court. Their statements, your testimony, plus a certificate from a mechanic that the brakes failed or were at least partially defective, would crush the charge in court. The Crown may even withdraw it before the trial. Whatever you do, though, don't pay the ticket!

It may be upsetting, but from an impartial perspective, I'd say you really don't have much to worry about. That said, due to the serious nature of the charge, I'd still suggest a paralegal or traffic lawyer - shop around and see who is offers the best service and expertise. If you want, there's a form at the bottom of this page to fill out for a no-obligation quote. It is also possible to fight it yourself, although more risky and difficult. Keep us posted...

A bit long-winded but I hope that helps...

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 04, 2010 9:57 am 
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Quote:
It may be upsetting, but from an impartial perspective, I'd say you really don't have much to worry about. That said, due to the serious nature of the charge, I'd still suggest a paralegal or traffic lawyer - shop around and see who is offers the best service and expertise. If you want, there's a form at the bottom of this page to fill out for a no-obligation quote. It is also possible to fight it yourself, although more risky and difficult. Keep us posted...


X2. The officer's "opinion" has nothing to do with the facts.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 04, 2010 10:17 am 
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Joined: Thu Sep 25, 2008 5:28 pm
Posts: 162
Location: Mississauga
You should definitely get your vehicle inspected (and get a mechanic's report). If you satisfy the court that this accident happened due to a mechanical failure - you have a good chance.

P.S. Careless Driving carries 6 demerit points (not 4).


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