What is dangerous driving?

By Last Updated: March 16, 2022

Businessman using his cellphone while drivingWhat is Dangerous Driving?

Dangerous driving is a charge that you can receive when you are caught operating a motor vehicle, a sea-going vessel, aircraft or railway equipment in a manner that is considered to be dangerous to the public. In order to convict you of dangerous driving, the Crown Prosecutor will need to prove each of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. You were operating a motor vehicle, a seagoing vessel, aircraft or railway equipment;
  2. The manner in which you were operating the vehicle demonstrated a significant or marked departure from the standard of a reasonable and prudent person; and,
  3. The manner in which you were driving was dangerous to the public.  

To determine whether the driving was dangerous to the public, the court will consider all of the circumstances in which the offence took place. This includes the amount of traffic present at the time, and the nature, condition and use of the place where the vehicle was being operated. If the manner in which you were driving is found to be objectively dangerous in the circumstances, you will be convicted of this offence. It is important to know that the Crown does not need to prove that a person was actually put in danger for you to be convicted of this offence. Rather, the mere risk that someone could have been hurt or put in danger can be enough for you to be convicted of dangerous driving.

In order for you to be found guilty, the Crown must also prove that you had the mental intent to commit the offence. As such, they will have to demonstrate that you recognized or ought to have recognized that your driving could have put the public in danger, but you chose to drive in that manner anyway.

The Punishment for Dangerous Driving in Canada

In Canada, dangerous driving is a hybrid offence which means that the Crown can chose to prosecute you summarily or by way of indictment. If the Crown chooses to prosecute you summarily, you can face up to a maximum of 6 months in jail. If the Crown proceeds by way of indictment, you may face up to 5 years in prison. If your dangerous driving resulted in the death or bodily harm of another individual, the penalty you will face will be much higher. If you are convicted of dangerous driving causing bodily harm, you will be convicted of an indictable offence that carries a maximum penalty is 10 years in prison. If you are convicted of dangerous driving causing bodily harm, and the bodily harm occurred while you were street racing, you will face a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison. If you are convicted of dangerous driving causing death, you will be found guilty of an indictable offence and liable for up to 14 years in prison.

Alongside a conviction for dangerous driving, you can also expect that you will receive a fine and a driving prohibition. The fines can go up to $5000, and the driving prohibition can run as long as 3 years.

About The Author

Michael Oykhman

Managing Partner

Michael Oykhman is a senior lawyer and founder of Oykhman Criminal Defence, a full-service criminal law firm with central law offices across Western Canada and Ontario.

My professional experience consists of countless court appearances and thousands of successful defences and satisfied clients. Over the last 10 years, I have worked to build a law office where all the lawyers share our collective experience, resources, and passion to help people. Our team approach to legal representation is client–rather than only law–centered. We look for opportunities to add value to our clients through strategic thinking and creative solutions.

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