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How can I be charged with stunt driving?

Stunt Driving (also known as Racing or Race Motor Vehicle) charges have been active in Ontario since 2007. This offence carries some of the largest possible penalties under the Highway Traffic Act. Even before a defendant’s first court date they can be out thousands of dollars due to vehicle towing and impounding costs, the cost of alternate transportation during the mandatory 7 day licence suspension period, as well as lost income from employment if they are unable to attend work or are terminated.

The most common cause for a Stunt Driving charge that likely comes to mind is an excessive rate of speed or street racing. However, most people would likely be surprised that those are only a fraction of the possible grounds under which you could be charged. Given the severity of penalties involved, what do you need to know and how can you avoid being charged by the police?

Let’s take a look!

WHAT ARE THE PENALTIES FOR STUNT DRIVING / RACE MOTOR VEHICLE?

There are three main areas of penalty that occur with a conviction for Stunt Driving:  court penalties, licencing penalties, and insurance costs.

The court penalties for Stunt Driving can include the following:

  • A fine of not less than $2,000 and not more than $10,000 (plus a 25% victim fine surcharge)
  • Imprisonment for a term of not more than six months
  • A licence suspension up to 2 years for a first offence
  • A licence suspension up to 10 years for a subsequent offence

The MTO assigns a 6 demerit point penalty against drivers who are convicted of Stunt Driving.  At a minimum, this would result in a warning letter being sent to you regarding your licence.  Worst case, if you already have demerit points, you could either be required to attend a mandatory MTO meeting to review your licence or be facing a mandatory suspension of your licence. 

A Stunt Driving conviction would also result in the following escalated sanctions penalties for novice drivers (i.e.  G1, G2, M1, M2 licences):

  • 30-day licence suspension for the first occurrence
  • 90-day licence suspension for the second occurrence
  • Licence cancellation and a requirement to re-apply for a G1/M1 after the third occurrence. Any fees paid, credit received for time spent in the program or BDE credit would be forfeited when the licence is cancelled. Please note that in the case of a hybrid driver, only the novice-class licence is cancelled on the third occasion; their full-class licence is maintained.

A conviction for Stunt Driving is very serious.  If convicted, your insurer may cancel you from standard insurance coverage leaving you to seek out a high-risk insurance policy.  High risk insurance policies are very expensive and many drivers may simply find the cost unaffordable. Being uninsurable may prevent you from driving for a longer period of time compared to any actual court or MTO suspension to your driver’s licence.

HOW CAN I BE CHARGED WITH STUNT DRIVING?

So, we’ve established that a conviction for Stunt Driving carries some very scary consequences.  The question now becomes:  How can I best avoid being charged by the police?  The answer requires that we look at the legal definition of Stunt Driving / Racing.  The actual legal definition under Highway Traffic Act section 172(1) is actually not very helpful:

“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.”

This legal definition is silent on what actually defines a “race,” “contest,” or “stunt.”  To find these legal definitions it is necessary to dig into a separate piece of law under Ontario Regulation 455/07.  Under section 2(1) of this regulation, “race” or “contest” are defined to include any of the following:

  • Driving two or more motor vehicles at a rate of speed that is a marked departure from the lawful rate of speed and in a manner that indicates the drivers of the motor vehicles are engaged in a competition.
  • Driving a motor vehicle in a manner that indicates an intention to chase another motor vehicle.
  • Driving a motor vehicle without due care and attention, without reasonable consideration for other persons using the highway or in a manner that may endanger any person by:
    a)  driving a motor vehicle at a rate of speed that is a marked departure from the lawful rate of speed,
    b)  outdistancing or attempting 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, or
    c)  repeatedly changing 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.

The phrase, “marked departure from the lawful rate of speed” means a rate of speed that may limit the ability of a driver of a motor vehicle to prudently adjust to changing circumstances on the highway. 

Ontario Regulation 455/07 defines “stunt” as:

  • Driving a motor vehicle in a manner that indicates an intention to lift some or all of its tires from the surface of the highway, including driving a motorcycle with only one wheel in contact with the ground, but not including the use of lift axles on commercial motor vehicles.
  • Driving a motor vehicle in a manner that indicates an intention to cause some or all of its tires to lose traction with the surface of the highway while turning.
  • Driving a motor vehicle in a manner that indicates an intention to spin it or cause it to circle, without maintaining control over it.
  • Driving two or more motor vehicles side by side or in proximity to each other, where one of the motor vehicles occupies a lane of traffic or other portion of the highway intended for use by oncoming traffic for a period of time that is longer than is reasonably required to pass another motor vehicle.
  • Driving a motor vehicle with a person in the trunk of the motor vehicle.
  • Driving a motor vehicle while the driver is not sitting in the driver’s seat.
  • Driving a motor vehicle at a rate of speed that is 50 kilometres per hour or more over the speed limit.
  • Driving a motor vehicle without due care and attention, without reasonable consideration for other persons using the highway or in a manner that may endanger any person by:
    a)  driving a motor vehicle in a manner that indicates an intention to prevent another vehicle from passing,
    b)  stopping or slowing down a motor vehicle in a manner that indicates the driver’s sole intention in stopping or slowing down is to interfere with the movement of another vehicle by cutting off its passage on the highway or to cause another vehicle to stop or slow down in circumstances where the other vehicle would not ordinarily do so,
    c)  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, or
    d)  making a left turn where,
    i)  the driver is stopped at an intersection controlled by a traffic control signal system in response to a circular red indication;
    ii)  at least one vehicle facing the opposite direction is similarly stopped in response to a circular red indication; and
    iii)  the driver executes the left turn immediately before or after the system shows only a circular green indication in both directions and in a manner that indicates an intention to complete or attempt to complete the left turn before the vehicle facing the opposite direction is able to proceed straight through the intersection in response to the circular green indication facing that vehicle

HOW CAN I FIGHT A STUNT DRIVING OR RACING CHARGE?

If you’ve been charged by the police, contact our office as soon as possible.  For most Ontario drivers, this is the most serious offence that they will ever face in their life.

The police will have issued you a summons that will include the details of your offence and your mandatory First Appearance court date.  Generally, most Stunt Driving cases can take anywhere from 6 to 12 months at court before they are finally resolved.  In the coming weeks and months, a number of important legal decisions will have to be made and you will need to be informed on how to best protect your interests.  Having a licenced paralegal representing you will ensure that your defence is being argued properly and that you are making informed decisions.  In fact, most Stunt Driving defences can be argued without you ever needing to attend court.  This can be a huge relief to defendants who experience anxiety at the thought of standing in a court room to argue against a trained Crown Prosecutor.

OTD Legal is here to help you.  Our friendly staff can be reached via our toll-free number 1-844-647-6869, by email at info@otdlegal.ca, or text at 226-240-2480.  If it is more convenient, you can also make an online consultation requestany time of day or night and one of our staff will contact you to assist you.

Posted under Stunt Driving, Traffic Ticket Defence

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