What Is Different About Careless Driving of a Snowmobile and Careless Driving of An Automobile?

Among Other Issues, Key Differences Between a Charge of Careless Driving of a Snowmobile and a Charge of Careless Driving of An Automobile Include the Penalties That Apply Upon a Conviction As Well As Places Where a Snowmobile May Be Driven and Give Rise to a Charge. Both Charges Share a Similar Definition of Carelessness.

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A Helpful Guide For How to Understand and Select a Strategy For Defending a Careless Driving of Snowmobile Charge

Yellow Snowmobile on Fresh Snow With Snow Covered Trees In Background Just like the driver of an automobile, a driver of a snowmobile may be charged with the offence of careless driving. The charge of careless driving of a snowmobile is similar in many respects to the charge of careless driving of an automobile; however, there are number of key differences.

The Law
How Is a Charge of Careless Driving of a Snowmobile Different Than a Charge of Careless Driving of An Automobile?

The law applicable to the careless driving of a snowmobile is somewhat similar to the law applicable to careless driving of an automobile; however, there are a few key differences which will affect the choice of defence strategies that are available when defending such a charge.  Specifically, the offence of careless driving of a snowmobile is prescribed within section 15 of the Motorized Snow Vehicles Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. M.44 while careless driving of an automobile is prescribed within section 130 of the Highway Traffic Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, whereas each of these statutes specifically state:

Careless Driving

15 Every person is guilty of the offence of driving carelessly who drives a motorized snow vehicle without due care and attention or without reasonable consideration for other persons.

Careless Driving

130 (1) Every person is guilty of the offence of driving carelessly who drives a vehicle or street car on a highway without due care and attention or without reasonable consideration for other persons using the highway.

Penalty

(2) On conviction under subsection (1), a person is liable to a fine of not less than $400 and not more than $2,000 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than six months, or to both, and in addition his or her driver’s licence or permit may be suspended for a period of not more than two years.

Careless Driving Causing Bodily Harm or Death

(3) Every person is guilty of the offence of driving carelessly who drives a vehicle or street car on a highway without due care and attention or without reasonable consideration for other persons using the highway and who thereby causes bodily harm or death to any person.

Penalty

(4) On conviction under subsection (3), a person is liable to a fine of not less than $2,000 and not more than $50,000 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than two years, or to both, and in addition his or her driver’s licence or permit may be suspended for a period of not more than five years.

Deemed Lack of Reasonable Consideration

(5) For the purposes of subsections (1) and (3), a person is deemed to drive without reasonable consideration for other persons using the highway if he or she drives in a manner that may limit his or her ability to prudently adjust to changing circumstances on the highway.

Sentencing — Aggravating Factor

(6) A court that imposes a sentence for an offence under subsection (3) shall consider as an aggravating factor evidence that bodily harm or death was caused to a person who, in the circumstances of the offence, was vulnerable to a lack of due care and attention or reasonable consideration by a driver, including by virtue of the fact that the person was a pedestrian or cyclist. 

What Are the Key Differences Between a Charge of Careless Driving of a Snowmobile Versus a Charge of Careless Driving of An Automobile?

As shown above, as is even obvious simply by a word count, there are many differences between a careless driving of a snowmobile charge and a careless driving of an automobile charge.  Key differences include, among other things:

  • The careless driving of a snowmobile charge may arise regardless of where a snowmobile was driven whereas the careless driving of an automobile charge requires that the automobile was driven upon a "highway";
  • The careless driving of a snowmobile charge is a single charge whereas the careless driving of an automobile charge is a dual charge involving careless driving in general and careless driving causing death or injury; and
  • The careless driving of a snowmobile charge involves penalties that are significantly different, being lesser, than the penalties that apply for the careless driving of an automobile charge; however, the penalties, and potential risks involved as well as possible liabilities, remain significant; and accordingly, always snowmobile responsibly.
Penalties
What Are the Key Differences Between the Penalties For Careless Driving of a Snowmobile Versus Careless Driving of An Automobile?

A conviction for careless driving of a snowmobile results in a maximum one thousand ($1,000) dollar fine whereas conviction for careless driving, in general, of an automobile is subject to a fine ranging between four hundred ($400) dollars and two thousand ($2,000) dollars while a conviction for careless drivinig of an automobile causing death or injury is subject to a fine ranging between two thousand ($2,000) dollars and fifty thousand ($50,000) dollars.  Conviction for careless driving of an automobile also comes with the risk of a license suspension as well as the possibility of imprisonment.  Specifically, the laws regarding penalties for careless driving of a snowmobile, careless driving of an automobile, and careless driving of an automobile causing death or injury, state:

25 Every person who contravenes any of the provisions of this Act or the regulations is guilty of an offence and on conviction where a fine for the contravention is not otherwise provided for herein is liable to a fine not exceeding $1,000.

Penalty

130 (2) On conviction under subsection (1), a person is liable to a fine of not less than $400 and not more than $2,000 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than six months, or to both, and in addition his or her driver’s licence or permit may be suspended for a period of not more than two years.

Penalty

130 (4) On conviction under subsection (3), a person is liable to a fine of not less than $2,000 and not more than $50,000 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than two years, or to both, and in addition his or her driver’s licence or permit may be suspended for a period of not more than five years.

It is interesting that careless driving of an automobile involves significantly harsher penalties and yet, whereas "highways", which includes public roadways of many types, are much more controlled and patrolled than places where snowmobiles are driven such as trails, fields, and even upon frozen lakes, among other places, especially whereas driving a snowmobile upon fields and lakes may occur without speed limits.  Accordingly, it may seem seem that the potential for driving carelessly is greater when driving a snowmobile than when driving an automobile and thus illogical that the potential penalties are significantly lesser.  The reasons why the government has refrained from implementing similarly harsh penalties for careless driving of a snowmobile is unknown.  However, with this said, the reasoning may simply be that where circumstances warrant, meaning where conduct is so drastic that a severe penalty is warranted, a charge of dangerous operation of a conveyance, which includes a snowmobile, would be made per section 320.13 of the Criminal Code, R.S.C. 1985, c. C-46 rather than the lesser charge of careless driving per section 15 of the Motorized Snow Vehicles Act.

Defence Strategy
How Can a Careless Driving of a Snowmobile Charge Be Defended?

Among other strategies, such as defending a case based upon the identity of driver, among other issues, a careless driving of a snowmobile charge requires the Prosecutor to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the person charged was driving a snowmobile, "without due care and attention or without reasonable consideration for other persons", which is a very broad and vague term legally speaking, actually being convicted of a careless driving charge often turns on the actual conduct that occurred.  Accordingly, what actually does constitute as carelessness rising to the level of "without due care and attention or without reasonable consideration for other persons" is a case specific issue as was stated within the case of York (Regional Municipality) v. Lam, 2017 ONCJ 290 while citing the precedent Court of Appeal decision of R. v. Beauchamp, 1952 CanLII 60 and wherein it was said:

[28]  In determining the requisite standard of care and skill required of a motorist facing a charge of careless driving, I look to the often cited Ontario Court of Appeal judgment, R. v. Beauchamp, 1952 CanLII 60 (ON CA), [1953] O.R. 422, in which the standard is not one of perfection.  Instead, Justice MacKay, writing for the Court, sets out the appropriate legal test as follows:

… It is whether it is proved beyond a reasonable doubt that this accused, in the light of existing circumstances of which he was aware or of which a driver exercising ordinary care should have been aware, failed to use the care and attention or to give to other persons using the highway the consideration that a driver of ordinary care would have used or given in the circumstances?   The use of the term “due care”, which means care owing in the circumstances, makes it quite clear that, while the legal standard of care remains the same in the sense that it is what the average careful man would have done in like circumstances, the factual standard is a constantly shifting one, depending on road, visibility, weather conditions, traffic conditions that exist or may reasonably be expected, and any other conditions that ordinary prudent drivers would take into consideration.  It is a question of fact, depending on the circumstances in each case.  [Emphasis added.]

Accordingly, arguing the legal definition of what constitutes as careless driving may be the basis for fighting a careless driving charge.  As per the Beauchamp case, what legally constitutes as careless driving is the failure to drive in a manner that would be expected of "ordinary prudent drivers".

Summary Comment

A careless driving of a snowmobile charge has many issues that mirror the careless driving of an automobile charge as well as many issues that are distinctly different.  Among the differences are the severity of penalty as well as the places upon which a snowmobile may be driven and yet give rise to a charge. 


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