Can I Go To Jail For A Driving Offense?

Last updated
January 27, 2024

There are a number of offences that can be committed whilst driving, most of which incur a fine or, in the instance of drunk driving or reckless driving, the loss of a licence and even imprisonment. As driving offence lawyers, we believe it’s crucial to understand the driving laws – and the punishments if these laws are violated. We have therefore created this list looking at some of the most common driving offences in Canada and the typical punishments charged if they are broken.

Careless driving

The offence of reckless driving is committed when an
individual drives without rational care or attention to other drivers or
pedestrians. It is considered an offence as per the Highway Traffic Act.


If you have been accused of careless driving, you will be
convicted if the facts show that you were driving without appropriate attention
and care. The penalty for careless driving is:

  • a possible 6-month jail term (or both a fine and
    jail term),
  • a fine of not more than $2,000 and not less than
  • licence suspension of up to two years, and
  • six demerit points.

If you have been charged with reckless driving, the
prosecutor will frequently be willing to plea bargain. A plea bargain is
referred to a deal that you make with the prosecutor to decrease the charge
against you, and in exchange, the accused would agree to plead guilty. For
instance, they might lessen a charge of careless driving to changing lanes
unsafely, following too narrowly, or failing to yield. You need to approach the
prosecutor to find out whether they are eager for a plea bargain.

Careless driving
resulting in bodily harm or death

A new careless driving offence has been supplemented to the
Highway Traffic Act, operative September 1, 2018. The new offence of careless
driving resulting in death or bodily harm is committed when a driver drives
without reasonable attention or care to other drivers and resulting in bodily
harm or death to any person.


If you have been accused of reckless driving, causing bodily
harm or death, the penalty is:

  • a fine of not more than $50,000 and not less than $2,000
  • a probable two-year jail term (or both a jail term and a fine),
  • license suspension for up to five years, and
  • 6 points of demerit.

Dangerous driving

Dangerous driving remains a criminal offence as per the
Criminal Code of Canada. Contrasting to a charge under the provincial Highway
Traffic Act, when upon criminally charging a person, their fingerprints and
photographs are obtained, and they will have a police file.

Dangerous driving should be seen as a hybrid offence. If found guilty on summary conviction (less serious), the maximum jail time is up to two years less a day; if found guilty on indictment (more serious), the accused could face imprisonment for up to 10 years. Apart from the other punishment, the Court may also command a license suspension.

The penalties increase if the dangerous driving caused
someone to get hurt or killed.

If you are charged with a driving offence, you should contact the expert legal help in Winnipeg for assistance.