Section 144: Driving Without Due Care and Attention

Section 144: Driving Without Due Care and Attention

Some of the most heavy duty traffic tickets we deal with are issued based on alleged violations of Section 144 of the Motor Vehicle Act. This section is divided into three sub-sections: driving without due care and attention, driving without reasonable consideration for others, and speeding in a manner that is excessive given the road conditions.

The majority of cases that we tend to deal with under this section involve the first sub-section: driving without due care and attention.

The minimum fine for a traffic violation under Section 144 is $100. However, most tickets issued by police will be around $368. The maximum fine is defined by the Offence Act and is $2000.

[pullquote]It is not uncommon for those who are convicted in court of one of these offences to be issued a driving prohibition from the judge or justice of the peace.[/pullquote]

The offences each carry 6 Driver Penalty Points. The Superintendent of Motor Vehicles takes these convictions very seriously. A conviction for one of these offences can trigger a lengthy prohibition from driving. It is not uncommon for those who are convicted in court of one of these offences to be issued a driving prohibition from the judge or justice of the peace.

For this reason, it is often helpful to have an experienced driving lawyer help you with your case. In our Vancouver and Richmond offices, we maintain a library of case law dealing with violations under this section of the Motor Vehicle Act. We have successfully handled hundreds of these types of tickets.

As a driver, you have a responsibility to ensure that you are exercising all the care and attention necessary to be a safe road user. Case law has stated that driving without due care and attention focuses on the manner in which a vehicle is operated. A driver who exercises even inadvertent negligence (R. v. Martens) will be convicted under this section. This contemplates driving that is improper or unsafe that does not meet the standard of dangerous driving, a criminal offence.

Many cases, including R. v. Martens and R. v. Lofdahl deal with charges of driving without due care and attention following accidents. Drivers must show due regard for the potential that a pedestrian may be using any marked or unmarked crosswalk. Inadvertently striking a pedestrian at a crosswalk may be sufficient to found a conviction under this section if the evidence shows that the driver did not have regard for whether a pedestrian may be crossing.

One of the most important cases dealing with driving without due care and attention is R. v. Shultz. This case deals with the fact that police cannot issue you a ticket for driving without due care and attention based on a “Fail” reading on an Approved Screening Device. The “Fail” result cannot be the basis for punishment or a penalty.

This case is important because police often issue these tickets on the basis of a “Fail” reading. That is insufficient. There must be something about the manner of driving that causes the officer to issue the ticket and the “Fail” reading can form no part of that assessment. We have been very successful as a result of this case in having many of these tickets cancelled in Court. It seems that police are still issuing these tickets to drivers who blow “Fail” and that many officers are unaware of this law.

If you are charged with driving without due care and attention and the evidence only establishes that you failed to give reasonable consideration to other drivers, you cannot be convicted of the other offence. The case law says that the sub-sections are separate offences entirely and not lesser included offences in the others. However, if you are issued a ticket for more than one of the three offences, you cannot be convicted of both. This is because of a legal rule called the “Kienapple principle” or the double-jeopardy rule which states that the same conduct cannot form the basis for two separate offences. Again, we have seen many occasions in which officers unaware of this rule have issued two serious tickets when they ought to only issue one.

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