Failure to Keep Right

Q&A ImageQuestion: I got a ticket from an officer for "failure to keep right" after he showed up an hour after I had hydroplaned off of a ONE WAY to the right of the road. He gave me this ticket and he said he was being "nice" because he felt he could have gave me a speeding ticket (even thought he wasn't there) Do I have a case?

Don't get hung up on the fact that the officer wasn't there. Very few criminal charges involve an officer being there, yet criminals are convicted. It depends on what the evidence available and whether it supports a charge of failing to keep right or not.

image of keep right traffic sign

Requirement to Keep Right

150 (1) The driver of a vehicle must confine the course of the vehicle to the right hand half of the roadway if the roadway is of sufficient width and it is practicable to do so, except

(a) when overtaking and passing a vehicle proceeding in the same direction,

(b) when the right hand half of the roadway is closed to traffic while under construction or repair,

(c) on a highway designated and marked by signs for one way traffic,

(d) if necessary when operating snow removing equipment, or

(e) if

(i)   the movement of a vehicle, or combination of vehicles, is permitted by and is done in conformity with the terms of the oversize permit issued under the Commercial Transport Act, and

(ii)   the width of a vehicle, or combination of vehicles, or the width of a load on the vehicle makes the operation of the vehicle or combination of vehicles on the right hand half of the roadway unsafe.

So, unless it is impractical, you are required to stay on the roadway in the appropriate lane(s). It appears that you did not. You will have to show the court that the roadway was not wide enough or that something made it impractical to do so. A tree fallen across the roadway might be an example of something that would affect both width and practicability.

Careless driving prohibited

144  (1) A person must not drive a motor vehicle on a highway

(c) at a speed that is excessive relative to the road, traffic, visibility or weather conditions.


Hydroplaning depends on 4 things, depth of the water on the roadway, tire pressure, tread depth and speed. If the roadway and tires are in normal condition for the circumstances, then that leaves speed. The court could infer that hydroplaning off of the roadway was due to unsafe speed after taking into account road and tire condition. No radar / laser / pace by patrol car required.

Dealing With the Ticket

Since I did not investigate, it would be difficult for me to know about whether you do or don't have a case, but this is the rule the ticket was issued for not following and there are plenty of articles on the site advising how to deal with the ticket. I'll leave the rest for you to decide.

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If you did not stray over to the left half of the road, I don't see how a ticket for failing to keep right could stick.

The fact that the officer said he could have been less nice and given a ticket with harsher penalties is not relevant to whether or not you failed to keep to the right.

If the ticket fails in court, the question in my mind is whether the officer could now decide to write a ticket for something else e.g. speeding - an anyone enlighten us on that?

It's actually failing to confine the vehicle to the right hand half of the roadway. If you are not on the roadway, either to the left or to the right of the right hand half there is potential for a charge.

It is usually poor form to come back post trial with a ticket for another offence arising out of the same circumstances.

... there used to be a specific offence in the Motor Vehicle Act which would surely have been applicable, here - Driving too fast for Conditions, I believe it was.

Might be the weather conditions, the vehicle condition (including tires), the traffic condition, the visibility conditions, etc.  The penalty would be 3 Demerits, as with most speeding tickets.  And let's face it, if a driver hydroplanes, and the consequence is a crash, then he's guilty of this.

This type of 'accident' (I hate that term, it's a mistake, an error on the part of the driver) is so prevalent that the NHTSA have calculated over 50% of single-vehicle crashes could be eliminated by vehicle stability systems - which is why they'll soon be engineered into every new vehicle, if that hasn't already happened.