The crown attorney withdrew the case. In a dangerous driving charge there must be more than just an accident or speed to prove the accused was driving dangerously.
Intent & Dangerous Driving
Must be More than Just an Accident.
Facts of the Case
On Saturday June 1, 2013 a police officer was doing radar enforcement on Highway 400.
The officer observed a jeep motor vehicle traveling at a high rate of speed and activated his radar unit within the police car. The officer obtained a speed of 150 km/h in the posted 100 km/h zone.
The officer pursued the vehicle, and tried to stop it by activating the emergency lights and siren on the police car. Despite being directly behind the vehicle, the vehicle failed to pull over for the officer.
The officer moved into the left lane and accelerated to the point he was parallel with the speeding vehicle. The vehicle continued, and increased it’s speed to 160km/h.
Not until the officer got slightly ahead and beside the vehicle did the female driver notice the police car. The officer then motioned with his hand for the driver to pull to the side of the road. The officer then slowed down and moved behind the Jeep.
As the Jeep started to slow down it drove off the road and into a 4 x 4 post. The vehicle came to a stop after hitting a large galvanized warning barrel head-on and came to a stop.
The officer ran up to the vehicle to see if the driver or any passengers were hurt. The lone female driver was not hurt. The officer spoke to the woman and determined that she had not consumed alcohol and did not appear to be under the influence of any drugs.
The officer believed the driver had committed the offence of Dangerous Driving contrary to the Criminal Code of Canada . The officer charged the woman and released her on a promise to appear in court.
Case Before the Court
Mr. Charitsis presented the case to the court. Mr. Charitsis told the court and presented case law stating that speed alone is not conclusive of the mens rea and actus reas of dangerous driving.
The Crown Attorney responded that the court could consider the driving beyond just the speed of the Jeep, but also the actions of the driver when the police officer activated his emergency lights to tried to get the Jeep to stop.
In particular, the Crown Attorney argued that the driver failed to stop for the police officer and by continuing to drive in the manner she did, that the driver put other drivers on the highway at risk, thereby the offence of Dangerous Driving could be made out a trial.
Charitsis explained to the court and judge that his client was driving on Highway 400 and had been in the left-hand passing lane. She was attempting to change lanes to the right-hand lane. She was solely focused on the ride hand side of her vehicle, when she was suddenly startled by the presence of a police cruiser with its red lights on her left.
At no point in time prior to this moment did she see the police officer’s vehicle, nor did she hear the police siren as her radio was on.
When she saw the police car, she immediately panicked, and it was her first instinct to stop and pull over. The driver abruptly slammed on her brakes and pulled off to the right shoulder, keeping her eyes on the police officer’s vehicle the whole time. Thus due to her inattention, she ended up striking the 4 x 4 post.
It was never her intention to flee from the police, but rather she was suddenly startled, (the accused was described as an inexperienced driver).
As a result, Charitsis argued that this was not driving that was a marked departure from the reasonable standard in this particular case, and was not Dangerous Driving. These arguments presented by defence lawyer Nicholas Charitsis, resulted in the Crown Attorneys office withdrawing criminal charge of dangerous driving.
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