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Dangerous Driving

Dangerous Driving 2020-07-27T21:14:12+00:00

Your Guide to Dangerous Driving Charges by Dangerous Driving Lawyers in Calgary

What is Dangerous Driving?

Dangerous driving is one of several criminal driving charges that can be filed against drivers in Calgary. Dangerous driving is different from charges under the Traffic Safety Act of Alberta (e.g. careless driving) because with a criminal driving charge, the Calgary Police Service will take your photograph and fingerprints and you will have a police file. A conviction for dangerous driving may result in a criminal record, whereas convictions under the Traffic Safety Act will only appear on your Driver’s Abstract.

Recent statistics suggest that criminal driving is on the decline in the city, however the Calgary Police Service remains on guard. The Alberta justice system is staunchly committed to reducing the number of accidents on the roads and takes incidents of dangerous driving very seriously.

The relevant provisions for dangerous driving in the Canadian Criminal Code are:

Dangerous Driving Offence in Calgary

In order to convict you of dangerous driving, the Crown must prove the following elements of the offence beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • You were operating a motor vehicle, seagoing vessel, aircraft or railway equipment;
  • The manner in which you operated the vehicle was dangerous to the public, considering the condition, nature or use of the place in question; and
  • The conduct was a marked departure from the standard of care exercised by a reasonably prudent driver. The Crown need not prove that you intended to drive dangerously, meaning that the threshold of proof is lower, making it easier to convict.

The occurrence of an injury or fatality is not enough to make or break a dangerous driving charge. If no one was harmed in the incident, a dangerous driving charge may still be filed if the Prosecutor can prove that members of the public were endangered by your actions. Conversely, a motor vehicle accident is not enough, in itself, to prove dangerous driving.

Investigation of Dangerous Driving Charges in Calgary

A dangerous driving investigation is usually initiated at a routine police stop, the scene of an accident, after a driver is pulled over or pursued, or following a report or complaint from an alleged witness or victim.

In their investigation, the police will likely consult surveillance camera footage as well as written statements from the alleged complainant and witnesses. If they believe you are the perpetrator, they will arrest you, whether at the scene of an accident or later.

The Calgary Police Service takes driving offences seriously. They are equipped with a large team, 1900 law enforcement officers maintain traffic safety in the city. If you are arrested, police will take you to a Police District Office for processing.

Bail Process and Conditions for Dangerous Driving Charges in Calgary

How do I get myself or a loved one out on bail for dangerous driving charges in Calgary?

For most dangerous driving charges, the police will release you with paperwork to attend court and obtain fingerprinting, and a formal bail hearing will not be necessary.

Where more serious circumstances are involved, such as with repeat offenders or where an accident resulted in the death of another person, a formal bail hearing may be necessary to secure your release.

For a bail hearing, you will be transferred from the district office to the Spyhill Services Centre. The bail hearing must be held within 24 hours, a period that starts from the moment of arrest or detention rather than the time when you are brought to the Centre. Although for many years the Centre was located downtown Calgary, it is now situated in the deep North West of Calgary, which makes getting home after being released far more difficult for many people. The exact address of the Centre is as follows:

Spyhill Services Centre
12500 85th Street, N.W.
Tel: 403-428-3400

Loved ones are not able to contact you while you are detained. The police will not release any information to friends or family due to privacy laws. Your lawyer is the only person allowed to contact you. Once the police have verified your lawyer’s details, they will pass on information about your whereabouts, if requested.

Because of these difficulties while you are held in custody, it is best to appoint a competent defence lawyer as soon as possible to manage the legal processes and communicate with loved ones. After an arrest, the police must provide you with the opportunity to call a lawyer in private and, if that happens, stop questioning you.

Once you retain one of our experienced criminal defence lawyers, we will begin working to secure your release on bail.  We will immediately do the following:

  1. Call in to the Spyhill Services Centre in Calgary and speak to you.
  2. Contact the Prosecutor assigned to the bail hearing to start negotiating your release.
  3. Order and secure a copy of the police information package that details the allegations against you in advance of the bail hearing. This allows the lawyer to make meaningful representations to the court about why you should be released on bail.
  4. Conduct either an in-person or teleconference bail hearing to secure your release.

When you attend your bail hearing, the Judge will consider the following factors:

  • Is detention necessary to secure your attendance in court?
  • Is detention necessary to protect the public from a substantial risk of re-offence?
  • Is detention necessary in all the circumstances to maintain confidence in the administration of justice?

Although it is unlikely that you will be denied bail for this type of charge, tight restrictions may nevertheless be applied to your release, including a driving prohibition.

Rest assured, we will work to not only secure your release but also to ensure the least restrictive set of bail conditions (including the minimum cash deposit).

In order for our lawyers to secure less stringent conditions, the Judge will need to be satisfied that you will attend court as required and that you pose no significant risk of harm to the public.

Our lawyers are often successful at persuading the Crown Prosecutor in charge of bail to let our clients out. If we can’t convince the Prosecutor, we can conduct a formal bail hearing and work to convince the Court. Even if you are ultimately detained, we can appeal that decision on very short notice through a bail review, which is conducted at the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta.

Where can I pay for bail for dangerous driving charges in Calgary?

If you or a loved one are charged with dangerous driving in Calgary and granted bail, you may be required to provide a cash deposit to secure release. The cash deposit can be paid at any bail hearing office (courthouse) in Alberta. If you live in Edmonton, you can pay bail there for someone detained in Calgary.

Bail hearing offices in Calgary are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The contact details of the bail hearing office at the Calgary Courts Centre are as follows:

Calgary Courts Centre
601 5th Street SW
Tel: 403-297-4444

You can also make a bail payment at the Calgary Remand Centre prior to 8:30 pm. The contact details for the Calgary Remand Centre are as follows:

Calgary Remand Centre
12200 85 Street NW
Tel: 403-695-2100

To pay your own bail, you can make a payment after your hearing, assuming you have sufficient funds with you to do so.

How do I change my release conditions for dangerous driving charges in Calgary?

Release on bail with dangerous driving charges may require either a surety, cash or a no-cash deposit.

Beyond that, you may face tight restrictions, including conditions to refrain from:

  • Being behind the wheel of a motor vehicle,
  • Staying out beyond a certain time (i.e. curfew),
  • Breaking any laws,
  • Using drugs or alcohol,
  • Possessing weapons,
  • Visiting certain places, and/or
  • Travelling.

The Judge can also impose additional conditions such as:

  • Residing where approved,
  • Reporting to probation,
  • Attending counselling, and/or
  • Maintaining or seeking employment.

A variety of factors will be considered when determining your precise restrictions, including:

  • Your criminal history,
  • Your physical and mental condition,
  • The nature of the alleged dangerous driving offence,
  • The likelihood that you will flee, and
  • Your history of drug/alcohol usage.

If you have already been released, at least for the short term, it is critical that you make arrangements to abide by your conditions until they can be changed. Breaching the terms of your release can result in further charges or a revocation of your bail, as well as a forfeiture of any cash paid to secure your release. It is important to take these conditions seriously.

Once the matter is in court, we can work with the Crown prosecutor to alter your conditions. This includes either adding exceptions to some of the conditions or eliminating them altogether.

If your court date is far away and you cannot wait until then, we can arrange to have the matter dealt with sooner. Our first priority is always to stabilize your release conditions. That way, you will not feel pressured to plead guilty because of the restrictive terms of your release. Once the conditions are manageable and minimally intrusive to your daily routine, we can focus 100% of our attention on defending the case.

Penalties for Dangerous Driving Charges in Calgary

Punishments for a conviction for dangerous driving depend on a range of factors, and can include both criminal penalties imposed by the Calgary court system and a driving suspension imposed by the Alberta Transportation Safety Board.

Dangerous driving is treated as a hybrid offence in Canada. This means that the Crown can choose to prosecute you summarily or by way of indictment. Your punishment will vary depending on how the Crown chooses to proceed.

For a dangerous driving charge, either alone or accompanied by other offences:

  • Summary offence: Maximum of two years less a day imprisonment;
  • Indictment: Maximum of 10 years imprisonment.

Where dangerous driving causes bodily harm the penalties increase:

  • Summary offence: Maximum of two years less a day imprisonment;
  • Indictment: Maximum of 14 years imprisonment.
  • First offence: Minimum penalty of $1,000 fine;
  • Second offence: Minimum penalty of 30-day imprisonment; and
  • Each subsequent offence: Minimum penalty of 120-day imprisonment.

Dangerous driving causing death is a strictly indictable offence, with a maximum punishment of life imprisonment, and:

  • First offence: Minimum penalty of $1,000 fine;
  • Second offence: Minimum penalty of 30-day imprisonment; and
  • Each subsequent offence: Minimum penalty of 120-day imprisonment.

Some aggravating factors that will increase the likelihood of a harsher punishment are:

  • Where the offence caused bodily harm or death to more than one person;
  • Where the offender was racing at least one other person;
  • Where there was a passenger under the age of 16 in the vehicle;
  • Where the offender was being paid for operating the vehicle;
  • Where the offender was impaired while operating the vehicle;
  • Where the offender was operating a large motor vehicle; and
  • Where the offender was not permitted to be operating the vehicle.

In addition to the immediate penalties resulting from a conviction for dangerous driving, it can have wide-ranging negative consequences on your future. You may have difficulties securing employment in the area of your choice, especially in roles that require driving. Furthermore, your insurance rates will almost certainly increase (contact your insurance agency for specifics). One of the most serious long-term consequences is the lifelong criminal record that results from a conviction, which can hinder immigration and travel.

Therefore, even if you intend on accepting responsibility for this type of offence, it is worthwhile to explore your options and consider all the potential penalties. Often, good representation can result in no criminal record. Furthermore, a community-based sentence may be obtained even where the Crown is seeking jail time.

Rest assured, our lawyers will work hard to defend you so that you are not saddled with the consequences that stem from a dangerous driving conviction. In fact, we can canvass a range of sentencing options with the Prosecutors that will either leave you with no criminal record or impose minimal restrictions on your liberty after sentencing. To learn more about potential non-criminal resolutions, please visit our Resolutions page, or read our FAQ on resolutions and other sentencing options.

Dangerous Driving Offence in Calgary

Defending Dangerous Driving Charges in Calgary

What are the best defences to dangerous driving charges in Calgary?

The defence that is best for you will depend on the circumstances of your offence. Generally, some of the best defences to dangerous driving are:

  • Violation of constitutional rights: The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms sets out your rights before and after your arrest. If the police fail to abide by these rights, it can aid your defence.
  • Momentary negligence: Holding a person criminally liable for dangerous driving is a very serious matter. For this reason, the Supreme Court of Canada has determined that a few seconds of negligent, accidental or unintentional driving is not sufficient to convict a person of this offence. If we can demonstrate momentary negligence, it can help you avoid a criminal conviction.
  • Medical impairment: Unexpected medical impairments, such as seizures, hallucinations, or blackouts, may provide a defence to a dangerous driving charge. Proving the onset of a sudden impairment will show that you had no control over your physical state or your actions. Note that this defence is not available if you chose not to take your prescribed medications for the condition you suffered from.

We will carefully review the entire police file, which may include expert reports from a traffic reconstructionist, witness statements, collision reports, photographs, and other documents pertaining to your case.

We will listen to your version of events, paying special attention to any evidence that bears on the following key issues:

  • Was your driving conduct truly dangerous?
  • What is the quality of the Crown’s evidence with respect to the amount of foot and vehicle traffic at the time of the alleged offence?
  • Will the Crown be calling an expert witness to help prove the case?
  • Even if your driving pattern was dangerous, can the Crown prove that you acted without the standard of care of a reasonably prudent driver?
  • Is there an innocent explanation for your driving pattern?
  • Can the Crown prove that you were the driver?

There are other successful defence strategies that our experienced defence lawyers can take against dangerous driving charges. Our team of lawyers will conduct a thorough review of the circumstances of your case, in order to decide what defences are available to you.

How can I help defend dangerous driving charges in Calgary?

If you have been charged with dangerous driving, the following actions can help your lawyer build a strong defence:

  • Make a statement about what happened;
  • Have passengers write down their observations of what happened;
  • Collect and maintain all documents and records about the event;
  • Gather any photographic evidence that you may have; and
  • Log any relevant texts, emails or phone calls.

As soon as you are released, start gathering any information that may be of use to your lawyer. What information is relevant will depend on the facts in your case. If you are uncertain what information may be relevant, you should contact one of our lawyers immediately to create a plan of action for gathering information.

If you are truly proactive about the matter, consider doing the following:

  • Secure proof of employment,
  • Secure reference letters,
  • Enroll in counselling (e.g. alcohol or drug rehabilitation),
  • Secure a record of prescriptions, and
  • Secure a record of any mental health conditions you suffer from.

These steps can be very helpful in building an effective defence (or convincing the prosecutor to drop the charges altogether).

What can a lawyer do to help me defend against dangerous driving charges in Calgary?

As we start preparing your defence by examining police actions and the evidence against you, there are certain defence strategies that can be used to aid your cause. Some of these include:

  • Assembling documents, photos, texts, etc. that contradict the allegation and support your version of events;
  • Identifying mistakes in the actions of the police, such as Charter breaches; and
  • Uncovering administrative/systemic errors, such as “Jordan delay,” non-disclosure, lost or destroyed evidence, etc.

Our experienced defence lawyers will use the most effective defence against the charges according to the precise circumstances of your case. Even if the charges proceed and you are found guilty, a good lawyer can significantly reduce the severity of the consequences for you.

What’s Next?

Most of the information above relates to simple dangerous driving charges, which can become increasingly complex and fact-specific depending on the circumstances of your case.

We have tried our best to provide a general outline of what you can expect if you find yourself in this situation, but this is just the tip of the iceberg.

To learn more about how we can help, please contact our team of Dangerous Driving Lawyers. We will conduct a thorough review of your situation and tailor a precise strategy that targets your successful defence.

Dangerous Driving FAQ 

  1. What is dangerous driving?
  2. What are the best defences to a dangerous driving charge?
  3. How can I get my dangerous driving charges dropped?

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