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Careless driving (HTA 131) deal down: lessons I learned
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 10:25 pm 
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Careless driving (HTA 131) deal down: lessons I learned
Careless Driving (6 demerit points) seems to be a “favourite” charge among police officers. It is certainly serious enough to get your attention and any plead down to say 2 or 3 points seems a gift. Here is a case where quick action and systemic delay got a very favourable result.
In January 2009 I flipped my new Toyota Corolla while south bound on the Don Valley Parkway. During a moment of inatentativeness my left wheel hit the roadside snow accumulation and pulled left. I overcorrected and wound up in the ditch upside-down on the right side of the DVP. On reflection I believe I was unconscious for a few moments. I crawled out through a broken window. Though I did not realize it at the time I had struck another car on the bumper. No one was seriously hurt. My car was destroyed. The police and ambulance arrived and I was examined. The police encouraged me to skip the trip to the hospital and stay for the extended interrogation in the back seat of the cruiser. “Let the paramedics go about their business” said the officer. My first mistake. My next mistake was talking to the police and giving a statement. To quote my lawyer”No one ever improved their situation by talking to police at the scene” This was my first accident and first traffic ticket in ten years of driving. For my candor I was rewarded with a “Careless driving” ticket $325 and 6 points. At the time I didn’t know it but potentially HTA 131 carries a maximum $ 2,000 fine, 6 months in jail and a 2 year license suspension. The officer did suggest that I “fight the ticket”. Duh, ya think?!
I retained a lawyer. We asked for disclosure and in fact filed it with the demand for an early trial two days after the charge. He followed up with four written requests for disclosure which eventually arrived in September. But still no Notice of Trial. As it turned out no Notice was ever received. Late in September a phone call to the prosecutor’s office yielded the information that the trial was scheduled only a week away for the first week in October. A hastily scheduled attendance produced an adjournment to the second week of January 2010. The delay was entirely the fault of the Crown (the officer was a “no show”) my lawyer had already asked (In writing) for an adjournment needing time to prepare the defence and schedule his attendance. This was a Joint request by the Crown and Defendant. But arguably it was inevitable on the part of the Crown because of the officer no show and failure to provide timely advice of the trial. In any case “We are not relinquishing our 11b rights”.
At this point we were 8 months and a few days along. The criteria for a successful 11b motion is a delay, not attributable to the defence of between 8 – 12 months (R v Askov and R. v. Morin), depending on the complexity of the matter. We were just over the “minimum delay goal line”. Arguably the adjournment to January 2010 was a joint request but more the fault of “systemic delay” by the Crown (no witness and no trial notice) than delay by the Defendant. Twelve months would put me solidly into “dismissal territory”; Eight months and a couple of weeks, less so.
My lawyer prepared an 11b Motion. It must be filed no less than 15 days before trial and is a very large and detailed filing. It involves transcripts of all previous trial proceedings, precedent cases, R. v. Stinchcombe (1991) , R. v. Askov , R. v Morin, etc. including relevant sections of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms itself, your own affidavit and a lot of preparation for effective at trial argument. This is not a job for an amateur! This was a serious quasi criminal charge.
The day of the trial and the weeks before were very anxious for me. I took Gravol just before the trial. I did not want to barf on the Prosecutor’s shoes! My lawyer had told me flatly that because of what I said in the police car during the interrogation he could not win the case if it went to trial. The 11b might get the charge stayed if the Crown and more importantly the JP had more than the average legal training, could appreciate the various legal arguments and wouldn’t just dismiss the motion because they “don’t like them”. Unfortunately our trial JP was of the latter variety. Because of the 11b motion the Crown office had sent a “special prosecutor” to handle my trial. We assumed this was because the regular prosecutor was the typical Crown in traffic court, a clerk with legal training, rather than a lawyer. My solicitor estimated the time to argue the 11b Motion at around 2 hours. He believed this Motion and the detailed argument at trial would give us some negotiating power. Turns out he was right.
While we waited for the special prosecutor to arrive and the “legal clerk” Crown handled other traffic charges my lawyer spoke directly to the Police officer (who was in attendance this time). They discussed what charge the officer would be content with. Most Defendants speak to the Crown. Why not go directly to the source? It turns out that he would be content with a HTA charge with no points. No points was his idea. Good news. At first the prosecutor had other ideas. “We don’t plead down Careless to no points.” My lawyer said “Well then let’s see how the 11b motion goes”. I guess the prospect of two hours of legal wrangling that would put a serious dent in the remaining court time convinced her to agree with the officer. They had to search but found:
HTA 151 Non-authorized use of shoulder prohibited sect (5) No person shall drive on the paved shoulder of any part of the King’s Highway except in accordance with this section and a regulation made under it. 2005, c. 26, Sched. A, s. 24.
Insurance wise although this is still a HTA conviction it is a minor one and carries no demerit points.
LESSONS LEARNED:
Always, always, always fight the ticket!
Never, never, never, tell your story to the investigating police officer if it is serious and you think you will be charged. Your Charter rights permit you to do this. Don’t complain. Don’t explain. That said always appear to cooperate with police, just tell them nothing about what you think happened.
Always apply for disclosure and demand an early trial date.
Never minimize the effectiveness of an 11b Motion. Systemic delay is always a possibility.
Always be prepared to negotiate. A significantly lesser charge in hand is worth more than an only possible acquittal of a serious conviction. Approach the charging officer if he is there; get him on board, then talk to the Crown. You might be surprised.

And finally; yes I did spring for a lawyer rather than a paralegal. This was about as serious a charge as it gets outside of Criminal Court. Not a time for half measures. I spent over $2,500 and that was a discounted rate. It was equal to about one year’s 100% insurance surcharge that would have stayed on my policy for minimum 3- 5 years. That is cheap even at twice the price. I hope this helps. Drive carefully. Keep quiet.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 11:16 pm 
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Good job. I would consiter that a sucess.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 14, 2010 10:08 am 
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Quote: " During a moment of inatentativeness"
Careless driving is defined in the HTA as "driving without due care and attention". I believe you answered your own question. Yes, deals can always be made, too bad it cost you $2500 dollars, a paralegal would have made the same deal faster for alot less money.

Lucky you weren't killed.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 29, 2010 11:48 am 
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In collision investigations the law (section 199 of the HTA) requires you to provide the information to the officer so he/she can complete the report. That includes telling the officer what happened. You do not have to give a verbatim or written statement, point form will do. The Supreme Court has ruled that the evidence you give is compelled by law and not voluntary and there for not admissible. If the officer reads you a caution or hands you a piece of paper that has a caution statement on it, tell him/her that the statement is to comply with the law and is not voluntary. If he/she asks for a written statement, refuse. Read R. vs White case law.

My experience with paralegals is they try for a plea to a lessor charge. They are there for the quick in and out of court payment.

You pleaded to a charge that does not apply to the Don Valley. It is a city of Toronto roadway, not a Kings highway. Those are owned and maintained by the Province, such as 400 series. But it is better than Careless. I'm still a believer that allowing the previous case laws to protect you in careless driving charges.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 29, 2010 11:57 am 
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Woody wrote:
Quote: " During a moment of inatentativeness"
Careless driving is defined in the HTA as "driving without due care and attention".


There is plenty of case law that says that a "moment of inattentiveness" does not constitute careless driving. I don't have any citations handy, but for people who are considering this as a defence, it may be worth doing the research in that area.

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 29, 2010 4:24 pm 
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pvotrainer wrote:
You pleaded to a charge that does not apply to the Don Valley. It is a city of Toronto roadway, not a Kings highway. Those are owned and maintained by the Province, such as 400 series..


I'm not from tha GTR...where does the 404 end? Thought it was one and the same hwy?

HTA - Controlled Access Highways
1. All of the King’s Highways known as Nos. 400, 401, 402, 403, 404, 405, 406, 407, 409, 410, 416, 417, 427 and the Queen Elizabeth Way

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 29, 2010 5:34 pm 
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The 404 starts/ends at the 401. The DVP starts/ends at the south side of the 401.

Reopening the case is possible since you were"advised" (hopefully) to plea to a charge that is not applicable. Of course that eans the trial again nd taking a chance a finding of guilt for careless. To fight this you need to do some research on a knowledgable parralegal or lawyer, knowledgeable in the HTA


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 29, 2010 5:48 pm 
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Its interesting that you used a lawyer instead of a paralegal to help you with this case.

Glad you were not hurt in your accident! It must have been scary!

Thanks for posting.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 30, 2010 1:20 pm 
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pvotrainer wrote:
The 404 starts/ends at the 401. The DVP starts/ends at the south side of the 401.

thanks, learned something new today 8)

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