Driving along the road you happen to briefly notice a ‘road closed’ barrier off to the side of the road and other traffic proceeding ahead of you. Nothing seems amiss so you continue driving only to be stopped by a Police Officer and given a ticket for ‘Drive On Closed Highway.’ What penalties are you facing and what can you do?
Drive On Closed Highway falls under Highway Traffic Act (HTA) section 134(3):
“Driving on closed highway prohibited
(3) Where signs or traffic control devices have been posted or placed under subsection (2), no person shall drive or operate a vehicle on the closed highway or part thereof in intentional disobedience of the signs or traffic control devices. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 134 (3).”
As the wording of the offence indicates, this offence is issued in situations where the accused drives on a road that has been marked as closed by signs or traffic control devices. Of important note in the definition of the offence, the driver must have been in ‘intentional disobedience’ of the closed roadway signs or traffic control device. Depending upon the details of your specific case, this may play an important role in the defence of your ticket.
If a plea of guilty is made by paying the fine on the ticket, or if the defendant is found guilty at trial, a record of conviction will be palced against the driving history. This record of conviction remains visible to the court regardless of how long it has been on the driving history. For third parties such as an employer or an insurance company, the conviction would generally be visible for three years from the final conviction date.
HTA s.134(3) carries a 3 demerit point penalty. Demerit points are added together within 2 years of original offence date in determining whether a warning, interview, or suspension will be issued against the driver’s licence by the MTO.
A conviction for Drive On Closed Highway, whether on its own or in conjunction with other past, present, or future charges, may result in an increase to insurance costs. Specific information regarding impact to insurance can generally most accurately be sought through your licenced insurance broker.
WHAT CAN BE DONE?
The first important thing to understand is that if you pay the ticket: you have just entered a plea of guilt to the offence and will receive a record of conviction along with the other penalties as noted above.
So long as your matter has been properly filed with the court, the offence will not show on your driving record while your case is before the court. Once a court date has been set for your matter we can serve notice to the Prosecutor’s Office for a disclosure of the evidence that will be used against you at trial. Once that evidence has been received and reviewed, resolution meeting will be set with the Prosecutor to discuss their case to determine the legal merits of their case.
Ideally at a resolution meeting a significant defect can be found in their case to reach an agreement to simply have the charge withdrawn at the next court date. If no such legal argument exists, the next step will be to determine whether the most advantageous direction is to proceed to trial or to determine if a plea deal to a lesser offence can be reached that will mitigate the penalties sufficiently.
If the best method of contesting the offence is to proceed to trial, your attendance may or may not be required at that hearing. Generally that decision will be based on whether your testimony and subsequent cross-examination would provide more net benefit to the defence or to the Prosecutor.
The penalties for a conviction under section 134(3) of the Highway Traffic Act carries significant penalties. If you have been charged for Drive On Closed Highway, it is important to know your rights and to seek out the information you need to make an informed decision on how to best protect your licencing and financial interests. We provide a no-cost, no-obligation initial consultation for Highway Traffic Act and Compulsory Automobile Insurance Act matters in Ontario. Our friendly staff are here to assist you and may be reached via our website, by email at email@example.com, or via our toll-free number 1-844-647-6869.