Section 249 of the Criminal Code makes it an offence to operate a motor vehicle in a manner that is dangerous to the public.What is a “motor vehicle”?The Criminal Code defines a motor vehicle as “a vehicle that is drawn, propelled or driven by any means other than muscular power.” This includes road vehicles, like cars, trucks, and motorcycles, as well as recreational vehicles like boats, snowmobiles, ATVs, and dirt bikes.This definition does not include railway equipment. However, section 249 also makes it an offence to operate railway equipment, an aircraft, or any object towed over water (such as water skis, surfboards, and water sleds) in a manner that is dangerous to the public.What does “dangerous” mean?Dangerous operation refers to use of a vehicle in a way that poses a threat to the public. There is no clear test to determine what is dangerous operation, but it must be a noticeable and significant departure from the way a reasonable person would operate a motor vehicle.To show dangerous operation, the lives or safety of others do not have to actually have been in immediate danger. It is enough to show that members of the public were present at the time of the offence, or that they could reasonably be expected to have been present at the time of the offence. However, all of the circumstances must be taken into consideration, including the nature, condition, and use of the place where the offence occurred.SentencesDangerous operation of a motor vehicle can lead to a maximum prison sentence of 5 years. If bodily harm is caused to another person, the sentence could be as high as 10 years. If death is caused to another person, the sentence could be as high as 14 years.Disclaimer: this article is for information purposes only and is not legal advice. For legal advice, contact Matt Gould now to discuss your case.