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Dangerous Driving Causing Bodily Harm – Charge Withdrawn

Alberta Legal Criminal Defence recently represented a man charged with dangerous driving causing bodily harm.

This section of the Criminal Code states:

320.13 (1) Everyone commits an offence who operates a conveyance in a manner that, having regard to all of the circumstances, is dangerous to the public.

Careless Driving as an Operation Causing Bodily Harm

(2) Everyone commits an offence who operates a conveyance in a manner that, having regard to all of the circumstances, is dangerous to the public and, as a result, causes bodily harm to another person.

In this case, the prosecutor alleged our client caused an accident resulting in bodily harm as he sped within the city limits in a posted 50-kilometre-per-hour zone. Doorbell and other residential home cameras captured our client travelling faster than others on a city street in Calgary. The footage also captured the crash. Both vehicles were badly damaged and one of the occupants suffered injuries. This incident could have been contrasted with careless driving under the Highway Traffic Act, which is less severe and involves driving without due care or attention.

Our client maintained that his actions were a temporary loss of intention. While he recognized that his vehicle was travelling faster than others, his exact speed could not be proven.

Dismissed Charges

Speed alone in dangerous driving cases is controversial. The case law deciding if that is enough to prove the offence of dangerous driving goes both ways. Law enforcement typically will conduct accident reconstruction in crash cases. When this happens, a specifically trained officer (or team) will attend the crash sight, take multiple measurements and examine vehicles. They do this for a couple of reasons, one of which is to ensure that the vehicle did not sustain mechanical failure therefore causing the crash. When they can prove that there was no mechanical failure that fact will become a circumstance which allows the prosecution to argue that the judge should infer mens rea (typically recklessness). The lack of accident reconstruction in this case also meant that proving criminal negligence, a more severe charge with implications such as jail terms and license suspension, was significantly more challenging.

In this case, no such reconstruction was conducted. The prosecutor had an uphill battle to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that our client was doing anything other than travelling at a faster rate of speed as compared to the other drivers.

The charge was withdrawn, thanks in part to the efforts of convincing the Crown Attorney of the weak basis of the dangerous operation charge, marking the end of the criminal process for our client in the Ontario court.

Dangerous driving offences (if convicted) often carry a period of imprisonment and a driving prohibition as part of the sentence. The penalties are severe because the sentencing principles of denunciation and deterrence are the paramount considerations in cases like these. These principles require sentencing judges to impose harsh sentences in order to denounce this conduct and deter others from committing similar offences. A conviction would also result in a criminal record, with long-term implications that could affect various aspects of one's life. If a judge dismisses the charges, however, it can lead to the defendant avoiding a criminal record.

If you have been charged with a driving offence, contact any criminal lawyer at Alberta Legal who defend these criminal charges every single day.

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