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Old 2007-10-26
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Default New Draconian Canadian Traffic Law Effective October 1st 2007

Become a Stunt Driver: Speed in Canada

by Craig Peterson

According to the sweeping new Highway Traffic Act and Ontario Province’s complementary Regulation 455/07, exceeding the speed limit by 30 mph, making a quick left turn, driving “without due care and consideration”, and a host of other nebulous offenses—including driving with a person in the trunk—constitute driving so dangerously that police officers are empowered to revoke licenses on the spot. The act became law October 1.

The driver is also hammered with a minimum $2,000 fine (up to $10,000) and as much as six months in jail if convicted. A one-week “administrative” license suspension and vehicle impounding are automatic. If you’re a visitor, including from the U.S., tough: your car stays in Ontario. Driving someone else’s car—-a parent’s, friend’s, even a rental or company vehicle—doesn’t matter; the government keeps the car.

RICO-type asset forfeiture is also being used occasionally by police to confiscate cars; it’s applied to “dangerous driving”. The reasoning: if you didn’t have the car, you wouldn’t be able to drive dangerously. Thus the car is enabling your bad behavior. Since it’s now a co-conspirator, the car gets confiscated and sold. (Regretfully there’s no provision for sending your ride to bad-car school, where it could receive counseling and learn socially acceptable behavior.)

The officer is empowered to make the determination whether an act constitutes “racing” and can confiscated your license and vehicle at his discretion.

According to the HTA “There is no appeal from, or right to be heard before, a vehicle detention, driver’s license suspension or vehicle impoundment under subsection (5), (6) or (7)...”

This is all before the case comes before a court. If you’re convicted of the charge, your license is suspended for up to 2 years. Upon a second conviction within a ten-year period, it can be suspended for up to 10 years and jail time (for the driver, not the car) is likely.

If the driver isn’t the owner, the owner can later sue the driver to recover the cost of the impoundment. But only after he pays an average of $700 to recover the car. The impound costs become a lien on the motor vehicle, which means that if they’re not paid promptly the vehicle becomes the property of the government

Feel like arguing? There’s a provision for that as well: “Every person who obstructs or interferes with the police officer is guilty of an offense and on conviction is liable to a fine of not less than $200 and not more than $6000 or to imprisonment for not more than six months...”

“We’re not interested in most drivers, even if they’re driving over the limit,” OPP spokesman Sgt. Cam Woolley said. “The intention is to give us the ability to take dangerous drivers off the road.”

Woolley said the Act is in reaction to some recent high-profile cases where street racers killed innocent civilians. But due to a backlog, it can take years for cases like this to come to court, so the courts are pressured to make plea deals and the public sometimes is outraged by the results. He cited the recent death of a cab driver killed by two street racers as an example.

Within the first 4 days after the Act became law Woolley said Ontario police had impounded 116 vehicles. Most were passenger cars driven by young men, including a number of modified imports set up for street racing. A few were driving SUVs and motorcycles. Most were pulled over for excessive speed.

One driver was stopped for running 194 kph (120 mph) in a 80 kph (50 mph) zone, another was clocked at 132 kph (82 mph) in a 50 kph (30 mph) zone.. Some were caught racing or performing “stunts”. Several were drinking; some were driving on suspended licenses.

“One guy had his Chrysler 300C Hemi for two days before we seized it,” Woolley said. “It’s going to be in the impound lot for longer than he’s owned it.”

Ontario local police stopped two U.S. drivers in Corvettes racing each other. Woolley said that by the time their court cases are heard, the impound charges will probably total more than the cars are worth. He expects that both Vettes will likely be taking up permanent residence in Canada.

SIDEBAR

Ontario “Stunt Driving” Defined

Ontario Regulation 45/07 defines a “stunt” as “driving a motor vehicle in a manner that indicates an intention to”

• “Make a left turn immediately upon a light turning green and before other traffic present can proceed through it” [which would see 99% of all Boston drivers lose their vehicles]

• “Drive a motor vehicle without due care and attention... that may endanger any person...”

• “Drive a motor vehicle at a rate of speed that is a marked departure from the lawful rate of speed.”

• “Outdistance or attempt to outdistance one or more other motor vehicles while driving at a rate of speed that is a marked departure from the lawful rate of speed...”

• “Repeatedly change lanes in close proximity to other vehicles so as to advance through the ordinary flow of traffic while driving at a rate of speed that is a marked departure from the lawful rate of speed.”

• “Lift some or all of [a vehicle’s] tires from the surface of the highway.”

• “Cause some or all of [a vehicle’s] tires to lose traction... while turning”

• “Spin [a vehicle] or cause it to circle, without maintaining control over it.”

Other acts considered to constitute stunt driving:

• Driving two or more motor vehicles side by side or in proximity to each other..” where one uses the oncoming lane for a period of time” that is longer than is reasonably required to pass another vehicle.”

• Driving a motor vehicle with a person in the trunk

• Driving a motor vehicle while the driver is not sitting in the driver’s seat

• Driving a motor vehicle in a manner that indicates an intention to prevent another vehicle from passing.”

• Stopping or slowing down “...in a manner that indicates the driver’s sole intention is to interfere with the movement of the other vehicle by cutting off its passage or to cause another vehicle to slow or stop...”

• Driving a motor vehicle “in a manner that indicates an intention to drive, without justification, as close as possible to another vehicle, pedestrian or fixed object on or near the highway”

That “marked departure from the lawful rate of speed” is deemed to be “a rate of speed that may limit the ability of a driver... to prudently adjust to changing circumstances on the highway.”

The HTA gives the government some wiggle room in the event that public outrage threatens their reelection, allowing the Lieutenant governor in Council to “make regulations exempting any class of persons or class or type of vehicles from any provision or requirement of this section or of any regulation made under this section...”

CP
-----

I would like to thank Craig for making this information available exclusively to the Speedtrap Hunter Community!


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