Stunt Driving in Ontario isn’t just about slick Vin Diesel moves in a 1970 Dodge Charger. The reality is a lot less exciting but no less important. Excessive speed or even just a quick acceleration could land you in hot water – or even behind bars. But what exactly constitutes “stunt driving in Ontario” and what penalties do speed demons face?
Defining Stunt Driving in Ontario
Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act provides a clear definition of what stunt driving means. While people often equate it with reckless high-speed chases or dramatic burnouts, the specifics are quite a bit broader. Stunt driving in Ontario means:
Excessive Speeding: In areas where the speed limit is less than 80km/h, driving 40km/h over the limit is stunt driving. In zones where the limit is 80km/h or more, exceeding the speed limit by 50km/h or more also lands you in this category.
Reckless Manoeuvers: Think you can spin your car in a dramatic Tokyo Drift or do tire burnouts without consequences? Think again. These and similar manoeuvers constitute stunt driving in Ontario.
Blocking Others: Preventing other vehicles from overtaking or not allowing pedestrians and cyclists their right of way is also classified as stunt driving.
These are just a few examples. The act goes into much more detail because Ontario is not messing around when it comes to road safety. Here’s the full extent of what the Ontario Highway Traffic Act says about it:
Definitions of Stunt Driving According to the Ontario Highway Traffic Act:
|Race/Contest||Activities where drivers engage in the following behaviours:|
|– Competing with another vehicle at speeds notably over the legal limit.|
|– Intent to chase another vehicle.|
|– Driving without due care, attention, or endangering others by:|
|– Exceeding the legal speed considerably.|
|– Racing to outpace other vehicles.|
|– Constant lane changes to bypass regular traffic.|
|Stunt||Activities where drivers engage in the following behaviours:|
|– Intention to lift tires off the ground, e.g., motorbike wheelie.|
|– Intent to skid tires while turning.|
|– Spinning or circling the vehicle without control.|
|– Driving side by side in oncoming traffic lanes for extended durations.|
|– Carrying a person in the trunk.|
|– Driving without being seated in the driver’s seat.|
|– Driving 40 km/h or more over the limit (if the limit is <80 km/h).|
|– Driving 50 km/h or more over the limit (if the limit is ≥80 km/h).|
|– Driving at or exceeding 150 km/h.|
|Driving carelessly by:|
|– Blocking another vehicle from passing.|
|– Unnecessarily slowing down or stopping to obstruct another vehicle.|
|– Intending to drive too close to other vehicles, pedestrians, or objects.|
|– Making aggressive left turns at signal-controlled intersections.|
Note: This table simplifies legal definitions to make them easier to understand. For exact wording and definitions, please refer to the Ontario Highway Traffic Act.
Why Is Stunt Driving a Concern in Ontario?
Recent statistics paint a startling picture. Between 2019 and 2020, Toronto saw a 200% rise in stunt driving cases. With fewer cars on the road, many took the empty streets as an open invitation to push their vehicles to the limit, leading to dangerous outcomes.
Penalties for Stunt Driving
Stunt driving Ontario laws are stringent and the penalties are severe. Here’s a quick rundown:
Immediate Action: If caught, expect an instant 30-day license suspension and a 14-day vehicle seizure.
Monetary Fines: Fines can range between $2,000 to $10,000. Remember, these are just the immediate legal fines. The ripple effects extend to other areas, like significantly higher car insurance premiums.
Demerit Points: Those convicted are slapped with 6 demerit points.
Jail Time: Yes, you read that right. Offenders can face up to six months in jail.
License Suspension: If convicted of stunt driving in court, your license can be suspended for anywhere between 1 to 3 years for the first offence. Subsequent offences see this duration rise even further, with the third offence leading to a possible lifetime suspension of your driver’s license.
Mandatory Driving Course: If convicted of stunt driving in Ontario, you are required to complete a Driver Improvement Course within 60 days of your conviction.
The MOMS Act & Stunt Driving
July 2021 marked a significant shift in how Ontario addresses stunt driving. The MOMS Act was introduced to make the penalties for stunt driving in Ontario much more severe. So what exactly is the MOMS Act?
The MOMS Act stands for Moving Ontarians More Safely. It serves as an attempt by the provincial government to address concerns about road safety, particularly in light of the rising incidents of high-risk driving behaviours on Ontario roads. Here are some key points and provisions of the MOMS Act in Ontario:
Stunt Driving and Street Racing: The Act introduces stricter penalties for those caught engaging in stunt driving or street racing. It has increased immediate penalties, longer vehicle impoundment periods, and extended driver’s license suspensions.
Vehicle Impoundment: The Act authorizes longer vehicle impoundments for those caught stunt driving.
Protect Vulnerable Road Users: It aims to enhance safety measures for pedestrians, highway workers, cyclists, and other vulnerable road users.
Addressing Unsafe Commercial Motor Vehicle Operators: The MOMS Act also targets unsafe commercial motor vehicle operations, with new measures to handle unfit carriers, including those who repeatedly violate transport regulations.
Tackling Motor Vehicle Collisions: There are improved processes to manage motor vehicle collisions, allowing police to clear crash scenes more efficiently, and reducing lane blockages and associated risks.
Can I Stunt Drive in a Parking Lot?
The short answer is no, but it’s black and white. The Ontario Highway Traffic Act (HTA) generally applies to public roads, highways, and other areas where the public has access by right or by invitation, express or implied.
Technically, a private parking lot, such as a shopping mall parking lot, is not a public road or highway. However, if that parking lot is accessible to the public (even if it’s private property), certain provisions of the HTA can still apply. This means you could potentially face charges related to careless driving or dangerous operation of a motor vehicle, up to and including stunt driving.
While the specific charge of “stunt driving” as defined by the HTA might be more challenging to lay in a private parking lot, it’s not entirely out of the question. If your actions endanger other people or property and the area is accessible to the public, there could be grounds for a stunt driving charge.
However, even if you avoid a stunt driving charge, property owners or managers can still have you charged with trespassing, especially if you’re causing a disturbance or potential damage.
Where Can I Go Stunt Driving in Ontario?
Stunt driving on public roads in Ontario is illegal and can result in severe penalties. However, if you’re interested in engaging in high-performance driving or stunt-like activities in a controlled and safe environment, there are several options:
Driving Schools & Track Days: There are a number of performance driving schools in Ontario that offer courses on advanced driving techniques, often taught by professional drivers. These courses are held in closed circuits or racetracks, ensuring safety for all participants.
Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (CTMP): Located in Bowmanville, this facility often hosts track days where drivers can learn advanced driving techniques.
Shannonville Motorsport Park: Located near Belleville, this track offers various driving courses and open lapping days.
Autocross (Solo): This is a timed competition where drivers navigate one at a time through a temporary course set up in a large parking lot or unused airstrip. Events are organized by local car clubs, and they emphasize safe, competitive driving.
Drifting Events: Drifting involves controlling a car that is sliding from side to side. Some tracks or organizations host drifting events where participants can practice and compete.
Rally Driving Schools: Rallying involves high-speed driving on off-road terrains. Some schools in Ontario offer rally driving courses where you can learn the basics in a controlled environment.
Off-road Parks: If you’re more interested in off-road stunts with a truck or SUV, there are off-road parks in Ontario where you can test your vehicle’s limits safely.
Charged With Stunt Driving, Now What?
Getting charged with stunt driving in Ontario can be an overwhelming experience, especially if it’s your first encounter with the law. Here’s a step-by-step guide on what to do immediately after receiving the charge:
Stay Calm & Cooperate: Once you’ve been pulled over, ensure you’re polite and cooperative with the police officer. Arguing or displaying aggression can escalate the situation and work against you. Breathe deeply and keep your emotions in check.
Understand the Charge: Make sure to ask the officer for a clear explanation regarding the charge, ensuring you understand the exact nature of the accusation. While the officer may not provide a full breakdown, they should at least provide a general overview of why you were pulled over and charged.
Gather Necessary Documentation: Upon being charged, the officer will typically provide you with specific documents. Ensure you collect all of them, including the ticket, any summons, and reports. Store them in a safe place as you will need them later.
Record & Details: As soon as possible after the incident, jot down every detail you recall about the event leading to your charge. This includes the location, time, weather conditions, traffic flow, and any potential witnesses. These details may prove essential if you decide to challenge the charge later.
Contact Your Insurance Provider: While it might be tempting to keep this information to yourself, it’s essential to notify your insurance provider about the charge. Failure to inform them could lead to problems in the event of a claim.
Avoid Discussing the Incident: Be cautious about discussing the details of the charge with anyone other than your lawyer, especially on social media. Comments made casually can be used against you later on.
Seek Legal Counsel: It’s highly recommended that you consult with a lawyer who specializes in traffic offences, even if you’re not looking to fight the charge. They can provide guidance on the implications of the charge, potential penalties, and your next steps.
Take Care of Your Vehicle: If your vehicle was impounded, ensure you understand the process and fees associated with retrieving it. Usually, vehicles involved in stunt driving cases in Ontario are impounded for a specific period of time, and you will be responsible for the associated costs.
Prepare for the Immediate Consequences: Recognize that, post-charge, you may face immediate consequences like license suspension. Arrange for alternative transportation if necessary and ensure that you comply with any imposed restrictions.
Reflect on Your Actions: While dealing with the legal aspects, it’s also vital to take some time to introspect. Consider enrolling in a defensive driving course or seeking resources to better understand road safety. This proactive approach not only helps in personal growth but might also be looked upon favourably during any legal proceedings.
How to Fight a Stunt Driving Charge
While the penalties are harsh, you do have the right to challenge the charge. Depending on the circumstances, it’s possible to have the charges reduced or even dropped altogether. Remember, there’s no guaranteed outcome when fighting a stunt driving charge. But here’s what you can do to significantly improve your chances of a favourable outcome:
Hire a Specialized Attorney: Begin by seeking out a traffic lawyer or paralegal with experience in stunt driving cases. They can provide insights into the strengths and weaknesses of your case, guide you through the legal process, and represent your interests in court.
Review the Evidence: Together with your attorney, thoroughly review all evidence against you. This includes the officer’s notes, any video footage, witness statements, and the specifics of how your speed was measured if speeding was the cause for the charge.
Challenge the Evidence: There might be flaws or inconsistencies in the evidence that can be leveraged in your defence. For example:
- Were the radar or laser devices used to measure your speed properly calibrated and maintained?
- Were there external factors, like weather or road conditions, that could have influenced the incident?
Consider Constitutional Challenges: If there were delays in bringing your case to trial or if your rights were violated during the arrest, such as not being informed of your rights, these could be grounds for having the charge dropped.
Negotiate with Prosecution: In some cases, the prosecution might be open to negotiation. Your attorney can discuss the possibility of a plea deal where you plead guilty to a lesser charge, resulting in a reduced penalty.
Gather Witness Statements: If there were witnesses who have a different account of what happened or can attest to extenuating circumstances, their testimonies can be valuable in building a defence.
Attend Driving School: While this doesn’t directly challenge the charge, showing the court that you’re proactive about safe driving can work in your favour. Some judges might consider the completion of a defensive driving course as a reason to reduce penalties.
Prepare for Court: If negotiations don’t result in a favourable outcome, you and your attorney should prepare to go to court. This means building a robust defence strategy, preparing testimonies, and gathering all supporting evidence.
In Court: During your court appearance, you or your attorney will present your defence and challenge the evidence against you.
Is Stunt Driving a Criminal Offense?
Despite the stiff penalties, stunt driving in Ontario is not typically classified as a criminal offence. Instead, it falls under the Ontario Highway Traffic Act. As such, stunt driving is primarily a provincial offence.
But that doesn’t mean it’s a minor charge. Stunt driving comes with severe penalties, including large fines, potential jail time, license suspension, and increased insurance rates. It’s a serious charge with potentially lasting consequences. Not to mention, the consequences could even be fatal if you hit someone or something.
Depending on the circumstances and severity of the action, other charges may be laid. In extreme cases, where a person’s actions while driving are seen as wanton or reckless disregard for the lives and safety of others, there might be charges under the Criminal Code of Canada, such as dangerous driving or criminal negligence causing death or bodily harm.
So while it’s not technically a criminal offense, stunt driving in Ontario should never be taken likely. If you get caught, the financial penalties are the best-case scenario. Do you really want to risk the worst-case scenario?
The Hidden Cost of Stunt Driving
Beyond legal penalties, stunt driving can have cascading effects. Towing, impound fees, legal representation costs, and a spike in your car insurance premiums of up to 300%! Plus, a stunt driving charge could even cause you to lose your job if it involves driving.
And since a stunt driving charge in Ontario can stay on your driving record forever, one or more convictions could make you entirely uninsurable. In that case, you could be forced to pay exorbitant premiums with insurance providers who specialize in very high-risk drivers. The average premium for high-risk car insurance ranges between $3,000 – $7,000 per year, and premiums could reach as high as $20,000 per year!
Stunt Driving is Never Worth the Risk
While the thrill might be tempting, the risks of stunt driving in Ontario far outweigh the momentary adrenaline rush. The province has made it clear: road safety is paramount. So, the next time you’re behind the wheel, remember the consequences. Choose to drive responsibly and ensure not just your safety but also those around you.
Remember, stunt driving isn’t just a term, it’s a dangerous act with real consequences. Avoid the temptation, stay safe, and keep Ontario’s roads safer for everyone.
FAQs About Stunt Driving in Ontario
Stunt driving in Ontario refers to specific aggressive & careless driving behaviours defined under the Ontario Highway Traffic Act. It can include actions like speeding excessively above the set speed limit, driving with the intention to lift some or all tires from the road surface, causing tires to lose traction while turning, and other dangerous maneuvers that can endanger the safety of the public.
No, stunt driving is not a criminal offence in Ontario. It falls under the Ontario Highway Traffic Act. However, the consequences are still severe, including license suspensions, large fines, potential impounding of the vehicle, and even jail time. Depending on the circumstances, other criminal charges related to driving could still be applied, like dangerous driving.
Stunt driving in terms of speed typically refers to driving at a rate that exceeds the speed limit by 40 km/hr or more. For example, going 90 km/hr in a 50 km/hr zone can get you charged with stunt driving.
While stunt driving itself isn’t a criminal offence, it comes with severe penalties. These can include fines, license suspension, vehicle impoundment, jail time of up to 6 months, and other penalties.
If you believe you were unjustly charged with stunt driving, you can contest the charge in court. It’s advisable to consult with a licensed paralegal or lawyer who specializes in traffic violations. They can guide you on potential defences, such as proving the speed measurement was inaccurate or that the driving behaviour was justified under specific circumstances.
The fines for stunt driving in Ontario can vary based on the severity of the offence and whether it’s a repeated offence. Fines start at $2,000, but they can go up significantly for repeated offences. Other costs also arise from increased insurance rates, impound fees, and potential legal representation fees. Always consult the most recent regulations or legal experts for the most current information.
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