I'm looking for advice on a careless driving charge that I was given. I was taking my driving test and near the end of the exam I was driving near an intersection when the light turned yellow. Not wanting to fail the test because I ran a yellow, I put on the brakes. A few seconds later a car ran into me.
The damage was relatively light for both vehicles but the instructor berated me for stopping at a yellow and the officer gave me a careless driving ticket (~$490 and the points deduction and insurance increase). Because of the extreme penalties attached to this charge, I'm a little shell-shocked and looking for advice on whether I can successfully fight this in court given that I was run into because the driver behind me ASSUMED I was going through the light. Now the officer did explain that cars are expected to go through a yellow light when 'past the point of no return' but I did not want to push my luck during a driver's exam.
Can anyone shed some light on my situation? I do not believe I was being reckless, and the accident happened because I was being too careful and the person behind me was not prepared to stop at the light.
Couple of questions: Were you able to stop before the stop line? And you were rear-ended, correct? I can't say why you were charged with careless driving if you got rear-ended and you just did a simple straight-ahead stop before the stop line. However, if you hammered the brakes, locked the tires and skidded past the stop line, then careless driving may be an appropriate charge.
What I'd recommend is that you consult with a paralegal for advice. Careless driving is a very serious charge and, unless you are reasonably confident with court proceedings, I'd suggest getting help.
http://www.OntarioTicket.com OR http://www.OHTA.ca
Thanks for the quick reply. I stopped a little bit past the line but I didn't force the brakes to the point where they screeched. Normally I would have just gone through the yellow but I was with the evaluator for the driving exam and I felt it was better to be safe than sorry (although in this case safe turned out to be quite a bit sorrier).
Any advice would be appreciated here because it feels very unfair that I'm being given a big ticket for stopping when the person behind me, who SHOULD have left enough space to stop if I had to (as one ought to do whenever driving in traffic) got off without any ticket whatsoever. Is there a chance I can get the ticket downgraded to something less severe?
So long as everything you are saying is the truth you were definitely wrongfully charged.
The only way you should have been charged is if you were like 1 to 3 car lengths from the white solid line when that light first changed to yellow.
If you were 4 or more car lengths away from the white solid line and then you braked and only went slightly past the white solid line then you have a great case in court.
Can you elaborate on speed?
Did the other driver receive any charges?
The driver should at the very least get following too closely although careless would be a better fit.
Were you aware you were being tailgated by another driver? (that is your responsibility as well) and if you knew you were being tailgated you definitely should have sped up to make the yellow light rather than slam on the brakes regardless of who is in the wrong or the right. That is just defensive driving awareness, probably something you just recently learned if you took drivers training.
If you go to court and explain the truth and try and convince your examiner to come as a witness you should have the charges dismissed.
The only thing that makes me weary of your story is that the examiner told you that you should have went through the yellow which sadly tells me you were probably past the point of safe stopping distance which means it was a careless act to slam on the brakes BUT the other driver should STILL be charged as well because they were clearly careless too.
What probably happened was the driver behind you realized the light was flashing about to change, so the driver sped up and got even closer to your vehicle so he or she could also make it through before the red light.
It seems bizare to me that he got charged for this. I thought you have to be in control of your car at all times. If a guy in front of you slams on his breaks and comes to a complete stop you should be at a safe enough distance to do the same and not be in a collision with him. So the OP sees a yellow light, and stops and its his fault he gets rearended? WTF? Meanwhile we see stories of people here that get a fail to stop-amber light tickets.
This should be beatable in court. Please keep us posted with updates. I would like to know how this turns out.
Yea if what the OP says is the true story than this charge is easily beatable.
The only thing that makes me weary of the truth of this story is the evaluator suggesting that it was your mistake meaning I get the opinion that you slammed on the brakes like 1 or 2 car lengths from the white line... which in that case was a very bad idea...
Thank you everyone for the replies.
To clarify the situation, I agree that I SHOULD have gone through the yellow and if the driving evaluator hadn't been beside me, I would have. But I STILL managed to stop on the line (my tires were on the line) without skidding or causing the tires to lock.
The most perplexing part about this is that on the police report, the driver that rear-ended me stated he was going ~40km/hr, which (A) was well below the speed limit and (B) should have given him plenty of time to stop without hitting me. How the police decided to assign the fault completely on me boggles my mind.
I've talked to a driving instructor who has taught me before and he says the charge is completely beatable and that I should go to court, which I intend to do. He also happens to be familiar with the man who was evaluating my driving and he believes that the man is trying to make the situation seem worse than it is to claim insurance benefits. I cannot personally say whether that is true or not, but the evaluator did (A) tell me to move the car from the scene without taking photos, (B) left me alone at the scene and walked away, and (C) alleged he hurt himself when nobody else in either car was even remotely harmed. Even the cops had a hard time believing he was injured but that's the circumstances we had to deal with.
Honestly this whole situation is just a nightmare. If I was given a smaller ticket and wasn't given complete blame, I could stomach it. But this seems completely skewed against me when the only thing I did wrong was stop at a yellow (and even that I managed to do without going into the intersection and without skidding).
Does anybody have any advice on whether I should talk with the prosecutor and try to have the ticket reduced or whether I should take it to the JP and try to have it thrown out altogether? Even the cops suggested I take the ticket to court, which seemed strange to me.
Can you judge how many car lengths away from the thick white solid line you were when the light turned yellow?
The driver that rear-ended you should most definitely have got charged.
In his mind he knew the light was going to change ASSUMED you were going to run the yellow so he sped up so he could run it too and then failed miserably.
The other ironic part is if you were to have gone through the yellow technically there is a charge for that. So in all honesty I can't think of what you actually did wrong.
I have a feeling the fact that you are a new driver lead to a lot of assumptions in the investigation which is disappointing.
If you take this to court you will win.
To be honest I think the crown will look at this charge when you go to first attendance and it will be dropped.
Ask for disclosure as well, that should be an entertaining read...
Good luck and keep us posted..
In my opinion you did the right thing. Going through an amber light is specifficaly prohibited by s. 144.15 of the HTA. If you could stop safely than you HAD to stop on amber light otherwise you would be charged with Amber Light Fail to Stop.
In any event, Careless is a bit of a stretch in this one.
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