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Dear Santa, Please Be Mindful Of The Highway Traffic Act

Dear Santa,

Thank you for all the wonderful gifts that you bring each year to excited children around the world.  The team at OTD Ticket Defenders Legal Services would like to wish you well as you prepare for this year’s travels on Christmas Eve.  However, we did have a few concerns to help ensure that you have a safe and jolly time on your global travels to avoid any legal problems.

MINIMUM NUMBER OF SLEIGH BELLS

Santa, were you aware that Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act (HTA) regulates the minimum number of sleigh bells that must be attached to a sleigh or sled pulled by animals?  It’s true!  Now, while very few people have actually seen your reindeer-drawn sleigh to know whether or not you have attached bells, this law is in effect in Ontario.  So please be mindful.  HTA section 77(1) states that:

77 (1) Every person travelling on a highway with a sleigh or sled drawn by a horse or other animal shall have at least two bells attached to the harness or to the sleigh or sled in such a manner as to give ample warning sound.  R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 77 (1).

Fortunately, the offence only carries a $5.00 court fine (a total-payable fine of $20.00 once you get the $10.00 victim fine surcharge and $5.00 court cost added in).  All the same, we don’t want to see you running afoul of the law and being slowed down in your deliveries!

SPEEDING / STUNT DRIVING

In Ontario, speeding offences are defined under HTA section 128.  Gizmodo’s article suggests that you must travel at approximately 650 miles per second (this would be approximately 3,765,865 km/h).  That’s REALLY fast!  In Ontario, most of our speed limits range between 50 km/h to 100 km/h.  This could put you anywhere between 3,765,815 to 3,765,765 km/h over the posted speed limit.  That could really get you into trouble with the OPP or various regional city police.

This could lead to a court fine of approximately 36.7 million dollars (CDN) plus approximately 9.2 million in a victim fine surcharge plus a $5.00 court cost!  That’s roughly 45.9 million dollars just for a single speeding ticket.  Ouch!  One of those alone would be REALLY expensive!  If you happen to get charged in a community safety zone, that fine could double up to 91.8 million dollars!  Yikes!  

Fortunately, the standard-issue laser or radar gun doesn’t have readings that high and I think most officers would be hard-pressed to give an accurate estimation of your rate of speed based on a visual estimation.  More than likely the police would simply charge you under section 172(1) of the Highway Traffic Act for Stunt Driving:

172 (1) No person shall drive a motor vehicle on a highway in a race or contest, while performing a stunt or on a bet or wager.  2007, c. 13, s. 21.

One of the definitions of ‘performing a stunt’ is to travel at 50 km/h or more over the speed limit.  Being at 3.7 million km/h certainly qualifies as Stunt Driving!  These charges carry enormous penalties.  Not only that, but the police could also tow and impound your sleigh, which would result in many sad and disappointed young boys and girls come Christmas morning.  However given the extremely high rate of speed at which you travel, the court penalties for Stunt Driving would actually work in your favour:

(2) Every person who contravenes subsection (1) is guilty of an offence and on conviction is liable to a fine of not less than $2,000 and not more than $10,000 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than six months, or to both, and in addition his or her driver’s licence may be suspended,

(a) on a first conviction under this section, for not more than two years; or

(b) on a subsequent conviction under this section, for not more than 10 years.  2007, c. 13, s. 21.

Worst-case, a $10,000 fine (plus the 25% victim fine surcharge) is certainly cheaper than being charged with a “speeding” ticket at 45.9 million dollars!  It would certainly have to be a very grinch-like Justice of the Peace to issue you any jail time, but you could get up to 6 months of imprisonment!  Let’s just hope that an officer at roadside would show some discretion and simply reduce your offence to a simple 0 demerit point speeding ticket at 15 km/h over the posted speed limit.  Although, it certainly raises the question of how on earth they would pull you over…. (?) 

In your defence, the speed of sound is approximately 1,225 km/h so you would not be able to hear the police officer’s siren should they be able to instantaneously active it.  However, with the speed of light being significantly faster than you at 1,079,252,848 km/h, you would be able to VERY briefly be aware of the officer’s emergency lights as you passed them.

SANTA’S SLEIGH AS AN “AIRCRAFT”

One strategy Santa, may be to just not travel along Ontario’s roadways.  However, you can still likely be considered an “aircraft” and be subject to some of the following laws under Highway Traffic Act section 187:

Removal of aircraft from highway after emergency landing

187 (1) Where an aircraft has made an emergency landing on a highway, the pilot in command thereof, if he or she is physically capable, shall, as soon after landing as is reasonably possible, remove or cause it to be removed from the roadway.  R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 187 (1).

Aircraft and movement along highway subject to Act

(2) Subject to subsection (3), no aircraft shall be driven or drawn along a highway unless the aircraft and the movement thereof comply with the provisions of this Act respecting vehicles and the movement thereof on a highway.  R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 187 (2).

Aircraft take-off from highway

(3) Where an aircraft has landed on a highway because of an emergency related to the operation of the aircraft, the aircraft may take off from the highway provided,

  1. a licensed commercial pilot, not being the owner of the aircraft, who is qualified to fly that class and category of aircraft, and the pilot in command of the aircraft are both satisfied that the aircraft is airworthy and that there are no physical obstructions on or over the highway which would make such take-off unsafe;
  2. the pilot in command of the aircraft is satisfied that weather conditions are satisfactory for the purpose and that the minimum requirements are met under the visual flight rules established by the regulations made under the Aeronautics Act (Canada) or, if the flight is to be continued under instrument flight rules, that adequate arrangements can be made for obtaining a clearance from an air traffic control unit prior to entering instrument flight weather conditions;
  3. traffic control is provided by the appropriate police force; and
  4. the police force consents to the take-off.  R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 187 (3).

These charges can carry a fine of up to $10,000 ($12,500 including the victim fine surcharge).  Although with Rudolph and the rest of your trusty reindeer pulling your sleigh, I doubt you’ll have to worry about any emergency landings on Christmas Eve.  However, it may be safest to keep to the sky and the rooftops of houses as you deliver your gifts.

“WRAPPING” UP

Don’t worry Santa!  If you do get charged by the police with any of the above offences, we would of course happily offer to represent you for free.  How could we not offer to help you out for all the kindness, generosity, and merriness that you have shared over so many years?  We’ll be leaving cookies and milk out for you Christmas Eve and will be wishing you safe travels!

For the rest of Ontario’s drivers who may make it onto the ‘naughty list’ of the police this holiday season by speeding, not attaching enough bells to their sleighs, or improperly landing their aircraft or taking off from public roadways….we’re here for you too!  Drive safely and enjoy your friends and family during the holidays.  But if you do run into trouble with the police, make sure to contact our office as soon as possible so that we can assist you with the basic information that you will need in making some very important legal decisions that could have a large impact on your life for years to come.

We offer a no-cost, no-obligation consultation to help you.  We can confidentially review most matters in 10 to 15 minutes over the telephone with you.  Knowing your rights, legal options, and what penalties you’re facing can help avoid costly legal missteps.  Our friendly staff can be reached via the toll-free number 1-844-647-6869, by text at 226-240-2480, or by email at info@otdlegal.ca.  You can also submit an online consultation request any time of the day or night and one of our staff will contact you during regular business hours to help you.

Posted under Speeding, Stunt Driving, Traffic Ticket Defence

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