My wife got charged with careless driving in a recent accident - ran over the curb hit a concrete base of the lamp post, when attempting to change lanes in busy traffic and lost control of the vehicle while looking in the blind spot. I've asked for early resolution meeting - how should I prepare myself to get the charges removed totally? Here's why I think the charges be removed completely - please correct any details i should omit, or add other things I should consider adding:
- she was slowly cruising on the lane that had an obstruction coming up, and wanted to change to the next lane
- she had the indicator on for quite a long time, but no one gave her way. she had to look at the mirror and blind spot multiple times
- heavy traffic conditions - 9 am on the busy King St approaching downtown hamilton.
- she was feeling little nauseous and all she remembers was the pole coming in front after her attention shifted from the blind spot to the front, and was too late hitting the break.
the police said they had no choice but to give a ticket as per standard practice. I've requested early resolution date, and possibly going to fight the case - as I don't see what was careless in my wife's driving. In my opinion, she was more careful.
Would like to hear thoughts from some of the experts here. Appreciate all the help.
The prosecutor may just offer you a plea deal right away, knowing that careless drinving is actually hard for them to prove. Or the prosecutor might just say they have no intention of offering you a plea deal and will be pursuing the full charge of careless driving.
From insurance perspective, I beleive Careless is a SERIOUS offence which is the worst possible thing you can ever have against your insurance (100% increase). If the prosecutor offers you a plea deal down to something that is considered only a MAJOR offence you may want to take that because this not nearly as bad as a SERIOUS one. Prosecutor will not know what is SERIOUS or MAJOR though so you will need to call your insurance company and ask them for a list of MINOR, MAJOR and SERIOUS offences so you know if what they offer is a good deal or not.
1. Does the prosecutor study the case (police notes, etc.) before early resolution? or do they put a blind offer? also, can I request discovery before the early resolution date?
2. I will be calling my insurance company (TD Meloche Monnex) to confirm - but does anyone have experience if first accident forgiveness also forgives the ticket that came with it? or are they considered two separate events? i.e. 1) at-fault accident claim and 2) traffic ticket
Thanks in advance
My understanding is that accident forgiveness is just that - for the accident only but I am not completely sure about that so very willing to be corrected.
Each insurance company is different, so you have to ask about all that forgiveness stuff. You had an accident and a claim so that may be what is forgiven. The conviction on the ticket itself may not be forgiven though and that will cause a HUGE increase.
We were also able to get disclosure where upon it has:
my wife's statement - was driving in leftmost lane - wanted to change to the right lane, checked mirror, signalled, checked blindspot, while checking blindspot to see it was safe i braked to go right, didnt notice I braked, but didn't completely brake (I know this sounds confusing, but this is exactly what officer wrote in the disclosed notes). I don't know what happened and hit the pole.
Bystander witness statement- she was going west, changing lanes, put her signal on and I heard a bang. Saw her hit lamppost and ran over to help her.
At the early resolution meeting:
Explained what happend, and the procecutor said she could drop it from careless to failed to stay in lane with 3 demerits. If we go to trial all she had to prove is would a reasonable person make an unsafe departure from the lane (causing to go over the curb and hit the pole). At first my wife wanted to accept it but felt otherwise and decided to go with the trial option. The procecutor said it could lead to careless charge and upto $1000 in fines.
Is this true? Or is it scare tactics? I don't think there is any evidence to suggest careless driving. Officer only came after the accident, witness statement suggests my wife had signalled and driving carefully. Also, the worst that can be charged is failing to stay in lanes. But she had to change because there was a parked car in the front (leftmost lane of one way road) What are your opinion about the worst case scenario here?
Also, as per advise of the folks in this thread, I called insurance company to find out what would be considered as minor. The agent said he would not know as they system would calculate that, but could tell me that the number of demerit does make the difference in the increase in insurance.
Careless is a BIG ticket on your insurance and if she's new to driving her rate will be very large. It's your choice whether you feel like gambling on an all or nothing defence when, again my opinion, there isn't much defence there.
Demerits mean nothing from an insurance standpoint so do not take a plea based on demerit points only. However as a G2, 3 demerits is NOT a suspension yet. Since she was a G2 when the accident happened, then if you get 4 or more demerits (even if she is now a full G) she will still get the suspension. The other thing you should check, is whether your insurance company considers "failed to stay in marked lane" as a MINOR, MAJOR or SERIOUS charge.
Careless is SERIOUS and you definitely want to avoid that if at all possible.
If failed to stay in marked lane is also SERIOUS from insurance standpoint, then you may want to consider getting a lawyer to fight the careless charge and not take the plea. Careless is a very very serious charge so you do not want to mess it up if you go to trial. Although personally my opinion is that you would not have a very good chance of winning, unless the witness does not show up. Maybe a really good lawyer could get her off, but it does not look good. So you would be relying a 50/50 chance of the witness not showing up.
If failed to stay in marked lane is only a MINOR or a MAJOR from insurance standpoint, then you may want to consider taking the plea deal to avoid the careless charge. This would (i) avoid the suspension because it is only 3 points and (ii) avoid huge insurance increase. I only recommend taking the plea deal IF the charge you are pleading to is only a MINOR or MAJOR for insurance purposes. My opinion is that it is probably a MINOR, but only your insurance company can confirm this for you. So most likely (after checking with your insurance company) I would probably think you will be way better off to take the plea deal and go to trial for the careless charge.
The procecutor didn't advise how long the plea deal is available for. Can I go back before the trial to accept the offered plea deal. Or is it usually a in the spot kind of offer ?
So, if you DO want to take the deal, then you better write the prosecutor's office immediately and tell them you want to plead to the offer they made. Your wife can then plead guilty at her trial date and they won't have to call in any witnesses. The longer you wait the less likely the offer will be given. I was actually surprised they made you an offer at all!
You should call the prosecutors officer and try to speak with prosecutor directly to say you would be willing to accept the offer, or at least leave them a message. You could also fax something to them as well to say you are willing to accept it. You will still have to show up for the trial date anyways, so if you dont hear back, then hopefully they will be in a good mood and still offer it to you.