Q: I was charged with careless driving after a crash. My attention was on my rearview mirror as another driver changed lanes close behind. When I looked forward again, traffic had stopped and I wasn’t able to stop in time.
On Pointts.com, they advise that “momentary inattention” doesn’t constitute careless driving. I feel this is exactly what happened.
I knew that if I attend court myself, the prosecutor will offer a plea to a lesser charge, but I visited the Newmarket Pointts office anyhow to see what they offered.
I spoke to a young lady (who wasn’t a former police officer). She was extremely positive that there were many avenues to fight the charge, such as challenging police/witness evidence, insufficient disclosure, momentary inattention etc.
I hired her, but directed in the contract that she fight it.
Just before the trial, I received a full-page email about how things weren’t so positive about defending this charge and a request for a more detailed statement about what happened.
On the trial date, the upbeat, confident person that sold me on hiring her was gone and instead all I heard was how bad things were. I felt pressured to take a plea, which I did (as did numerous other clients of hers in court).
Ultimately, she did no better than I could have myself without paying her $500 fee.
A: Stephen Parker of Pointts head office replies:
I’ve spoken to our paralegal in Newmarket that handled this matter, which was in court on Nov. 6, 2012.
The client was sent a copy of the full disclosure from the prosecution that was received by our office.
As of Nov. 1, the client still wanted a trial on the matter. Our agent had requested on numerous occasions that he provide his written version of events in order that he might be properly prepared for a trial. This wasn’t received by our office until around 3 p.m. the day before the trial and our paralegal was still in court.
His written version contradicted facts provided at the initial consultation. This was brought to his attention but was never satisfactorily resolved. On the trial date, he indicated to our paralegal that if the other driver didn’t show up but the two other witnesses did, he wished to go to trial. If the other driver (he ran into) did show, then he would plead to a reduced charge.
It was always indicated to him that we were ready for a trial, and it was his choice. Two witnesses didn’t show but the other driver did and the client opted to plead guilty to a reduced charge of his own volition.
The client was never pressured to plead guilty to anything. In fact, we prefer to conduct trials, particularly with Careless Driving charges. Clients however, frequently choose to plead guilty to a reduced charge, rather than risk their licence.
Got a beef? Send it to Eric Lai at firstname.lastname@example.org. Include year, make, model and kilometres of autos cited, plus your name, address and telephone number. Personal replies cannot be handled due to volume.
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