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Driving without a clear view? What you need to know!

Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act covers a staggeringly large number of topics regarding vehicles and how they can be lawfully driven.  It is important to always remember that Ontario’s Ministry of transportation says:

“Driving is a privilege – not a right”

Following the law is important.  If you don’t follow the laws regarding vehicles and how they can be driven, you risk having your licence suspended or even cancelled outright.  That could be a huge problem given how important driving is to most people in Ontario.

This week we’re going to be taking a look at some of what the Highway Traffic Act has to say about having a clear view while driving your vehicle.  Not only is this important to your safety and the safety of other drivers, pedestrians, and property, but it’s also the law.

The best way to protect yourself from breaking the law is to know what the law is and how it applies to you.  Inadvertently breaking the law due to not knowing it, is generally a weak defence at best if you have to appear before the court.  Once a police officer has issued you a ticket or summons, you are charged and there’s no going back.  You’ll have to gather information to start making some important decisions that may end up impacting your life for years into the future.  Do you fight it?  Do you enter a plea of guilt and accept the consequences?  What are the consequences from the court and to your licence, demerit points, CVOR points, and insurance if you do enter a plea of guilt or are found guilty at court?

If you have a question that you’d like to ask that we haven’t answered, we’d love to hear from you.  You can submit a blog question and we’ll either answer it in a future blog post or send you an answer directly.  If you have a question, it’s very likely that other people have the same question and could be helped by reading the answer to it as well.  If you have already been charged by the police, you will need more immediate assistance and answers to your questions.  If this is your current situation, you can submit an online consultation request and one of our friendly staff will contact you to assist you.  Hopefully, this week’s look at your legal obligations under Ontario’s Highway Traffic act regarding maintaining a clear view while driving will help avoid you coming into conflict with the law.

Let’s take a look!

What Are My Legal Requirements For Seeing Out Of My Front And Side Windows?

In Ontario, one of the laws regarding being able to clearly see out of your front and side windows falls under Highway Traffic Act section 74(1)(a):

Windows to afford clear view

74 (1) No person shall drive a motor vehicle upon a highway,

  • unless the windshield and the windows on either side of the compartment containing the steering wheel are in such a condition as to afford the driver a clear view to the front and side of the motor vehicle; […]

Definitions

Highway Traffic Act section 1(1):

highway” includes a common and public highway, street, avenue, parkway, driveway, square, place, bridge, viaduct or trestle, any part of which is intended for or used by the general public for the passage of vehicles and includes the area between the lateral property lines thereof; (“voie publique”)

motor vehicle” includes an automobile, a motorcycle, a motor assisted bicycle unless otherwise indicated in this Act, and any other vehicle propelled or driven otherwise than by muscular power, but does not include a street car or other motor vehicle running only upon rails, a power-assisted bicycle, a motorized snow vehicle, a traction engine, a farm tractor, a self-propelled implement of husbandry or a road-building machine; (“véhicule automobile”)

 

This law applies to the following:

  • The front windshield of your vehicle
  • The windows to either side of where the steering wheel is located

The requirement for you, as the driver of that vehicle, is that you must ensure that you have a clear view through those windows.  Failing to do so can result in your being stopped and charged by the police.

What Are My Legal Requirements For Seeing Out Of My Rear Window?

The legal requirements for maintaining a clear view through your vehicle’s rear window is stated under Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act section 74(1)(b) as follows:

Windows to afford clear view

74 (1) No person shall drive a motor vehicle upon a highway,

[…]

(b) unless the rear window is in such a condition as to afford the driver a clear view to the rear of the motor vehicle.  R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 74 (1).

The legal requirements under this specific section of law apply only to the rear window of the vehicle.  As the driver of the vehicle, you are required to maintain a “clear view to the rear” of your vehicle.  If you do not have a clear view to the rear of your vehicle, you could be stopped and charged by the police under this section of the Highway Traffic Act.

Is There Any Legal Exemption To Not Being Able To See Out Of My Rear Window?

Yes.  Fortunately it is also an exemption that applies to the vast majority of vehicles on Ontario’s roadways.  This is certainly good news for Ontarians that enjoy packing their vehicle’s interior to the roof for camping or other events.  This exemption falls under Highway Traffic Act section74(2) as follows:

Application of clause. (1) (b)

(2) Clause (1) (b) does not apply to a motor vehicle that is equipped with a mirror or mirrors securely attached to the motor vehicle and placed in such a position and maintained in such a condition as to afford the driver, otherwise than through the rear window, a clearly-reflected view of the roadway in the rear or of any vehicle approaching from the rear.  R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 74 (2).

The exemption for not being able to see through your rear window requires that:

  • A mirror or mirrors be attached to your vehicle
  • That those mirrors be placed and maintained to reflect the roadway behind you
  • That the reflection of the mirror(s) permit you to see the road and any vehicles behind you

If your rear window is blocked and you cannot properly see the road or vehicles behind you in your mirrors, you’re at risk for being charged by the police under this section of the Highway Traffic Act.

What Penalties Would I Need To Worry About?

Generally most court convictions under the Highway Traffic Act can result in some or all of the following penalties:

  • A court fine
  • A record of conviction to your driving history
  • Demerit Points
  • CVOR Points (for commercial motor vehicle drivers)
  • A licence suspension
  • Imprisonment
  • An increase to insurance rates
  • An interruption to your personal, family, or work obligations if your licence is suspended

A conviction for an offence under one of the subsections of Highway Traffic Act section 74 would result in the following set fine:

 

Offence HTA Section Set Fine
No clear view to front 74(1)(a) $85.00
No clear view to sides 74(1)(a) $85.00
No clear view to rear 74(1)(b) $85.00


This set fine would also be subject to an additional $5.00 court cost and the victim fine surcharge.  This would result in a total payable fine of $110.00.  These offences would result in a record of conviction that would always be visible to the court, but would only be visible to your insurance company or employer for 3 years from your conviction date.  These offences do not result in a demerit point penalty, but would result in a 1 CVOR point penalty for commercial motor vehicle drivers or their employer.  The impact to your insurance rate would be dependent upon your driving history and how your specific insurance company calculates risk assessment and insurances costs.

The best way to avoid any of the above penalties is to fight your ticket or summons at court.  If you simply enter a plea of guilt to your offence(s) you will be convicted and will have to live with the consequences.  If you later find out that you were unaware of all of the consequences involved in your guilty plea, your legal options at that time will have become fewer and more expensive.  When it comes to legal matters, it is important to do things right the first time as you may not have a second chance.

What Can I Do If I’m Charged By The Police?

If you have been charged by the police, contact our office.  We can help you.  Our friendly staff assist people just like yourself every single day of the week on a wide variety of cases.  We can assist you with your charge(s) anywhere in Ontario and Quebec as well as some areas of the northern United States.  It never hurts to ask!  Generally it only takes 5 to 10 minutes on the phone to have most of your questions answered and to get some of the basic information that you will need to start making informed decisions.

Hiring a licenced and experienced paralegal is generally more cost effective than simply being convicted.  The first goal is to either have your charge(s) withdrawn or reduced through direct negotiation with the Prosecutor’s Office.  If an agreeable resolution cannot be reached, then having a capable paralegal that can provide your defence at trial will give you a fighting chance to win your case.  Fortunately, most cases can be resolved without our clients ever needing to attend court or file any legal documents.  We take care of that for you.  For many defendants unfamiliar with the court process or the law, that is a huge relief from stress.

Our friendly staff are here to help you.  We offer a no-cost, no-obligation initial consultation to go through your case history and details with you.  We can be reached via our toll-free number 1-844-647-6869, by email at info@otdlegal.ca, or by text at 226-240-2480.  You can also submit an online consultation request any time of day or night and one of our staff will contact you during regular business hours to assist you and answer your questions.

Posted under Demerit Points, Professional Truck Drivers, Traffic Ticket Defence

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