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Proper Seat Belt Safety And Ontario Law

In Ontario, seat belts are mandatory when driving in your car or truck.  Seat belts are an important safety feature that can help minimize injuries and prevent death in the event of a vehicle collision or roll over.  Drivers, passengers, and children are all required by law to be buckled up while travelling along Ontario’s roadways.

What is the law surrounding seat belt use in Ontario?  What are the penalties?  What do you need to know?  How can you fight a seat belt ticket?

Let’s take a look! 

Seat Belt Use In Ontario

Seat belt law falls under Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act section 106.  All Canadian provinces and territories have laws requiring the use of seat belts: 

Province/Territory

Date of inception

Who is covered

Demerit points

 Alberta

July 1, 1987

Anyone in driver’s seat or passenger seat

0

 British Columbia

October 1, 1977

Age 16+ in all seats

0

 Manitoba

April 1, 1984

Age 16+ in all seats

2

 New Brunswick

November 1, 1983

Age 16+ in all seats

2

 Newfoundland and Labrador

July 1, 1982

Age 16+ in all seats

2

 Northwest Territories

July 1, 1988

Age 16+ in all seats

2

 Nova Scotia

January 1, 1985

Age 16+ in all seats

2

 Ontario

January 1, 1976

Age 16+ in all seats

2

 Prince Edward Island

July 1, 1987

Age 16+ in all seats

3

 Quebec

August 15, 1976

Age 16+ in all seats

3

 Saskatchewan

July 1, 1977

Age 16+ in all seats

3

 Yukon

July 1, 1991

Age 15+ in all seats

4

While mandatory seat belt use in Ontario didn’t come into effect until January 1, 1976, it wasn’t until 2006 that amendments to that law closed a few remaining loopholes.  The amendments to this law ensured “one person, one seat belt” where the number of passengers in a vehicle could no longer exceed the number of available seat belts.  For example, a single seat belt was now prohibited from being used by more than one person.  

The legal definition of a ‘seat belt assembly’ under Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act is:

“a device or assembly composed of straps, webbing or similar material that restrains the movement of a person in order to prevent or mitigate injury to the person and includes a pelvic restraint or a pelvic restraint and a torso restraint.  2006, c. 25, s. 1.”

Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act (HTA) breaks down seat belt law into multiple sections, each dealing with specific issues.  Let’s take a look…

Drive With Seat Belt Inoperative

“Drive With Seat Belt Inoperative” falls under HTA section 106(1) and is defined as follows:

106 (1) No person shall drive on a highway a motor vehicle in which a seat belt assembly required under the Motor Vehicle Safety Act(Canada) at the time that the vehicle was manufactured or imported into Canada has been removed, rendered partly or wholly inoperative, modified so as to reduce its effectiveness or is not operating properly through lack of maintenance.  2006, c. 25, s. 1.

Basically, if your vehicle requires a seat belt, that seat belt can not be removed, be made inoperative, be modified to make it less effective, or be allowed to operate improperly through lack of maintenance.

Driver – Fail To Properly Wear Seat Belt

“Driver – Fail To Properly Wear Seat Belt” falls under HTA section 106(2):

(2) Every person who drives on a highway a motor vehicle in which a seat belt assembly is provided for the driver shall wear the complete seat belt assembly as required by subsection (5).  2006, c. 25, s. 1.

Under this section of law, if you are the driver of a vehicle that has a seat belt provided for the driver’s seat, you must use that seat belt.

Passenger – Fail To Occupy Position With Seat Belt

“Passenger – Fail To Occupy Position With Seat Belt” falls under HTA section 106(3)(a):

(3) Every person who is at least 16 years old and is a passenger in a motor vehicle on a highway shall,

(a) occupy a seating position for which a seat belt assembly has been provided;

If you are a passenger in a vehicle that is 16 years of age or older, you must be seated in a location that is fitted with a seat belt.  This section does not require that you are wearing a seat belt, only that you are seated in a location fitted with a seat belt as a passenger.

Passenger – Fail To Properly Wear Seat Belt

“Passenger – Fail To Properly Wear Seat Belt” falls under HTA section 106(3)(b):

(3) Every person who is at least 16 years old and is a passenger in a motor vehicle on a highway shall,

(b) wear the complete seat belt assembly as required by subsection (5)

This is the specific law that requires a passenger to wear the complete seat belt assembly provided for them under the previous section.

Drive While Passenger Under 16 Fails To Occupy Position With Seat Belt

“Drive While Passenger Under 16 Fails To Occupy Position With Seat Belt” is defined by HTA section 106(4)(a)(i):

(4) No person shall drive on a highway a motor vehicle in which there is a passenger who is under 16 years old unless,

(a) that passenger,

(i) occupies a seating position for which a seat belt assembly has been provided

This law defines the driver’s responsibility to ensure that any passenger under the age of 16 is seated in a location where a  seat belt assembly is present for their use.  This section does not require the passenger to wear the seat belt, only that they are in a location where one is present.

Drive While Passenger Under 16 Fails To Properly Wear Seat Belt

 “Drive While Passenger Under 16 Fails To Properly Wear Seat Belt” falls under HTA section 106(4)(a)(ii):

(4) No person shall drive on a highway a motor vehicle in which there is a passenger who is under 16 years old unless,

(a) that passenger,

(ii) is wearing the complete seat belt assembly as required by subsection (5)

Unlike the previous section that enforces that the young passenger be in a location within the vehicle where a seat belt is provided, this section requires that the seat belt be properly worn by the young passenger.

Drive While Child Passenger Not Properly Secured 

“Drive While Child Passenger Not Properly Secured” is defined under HTA section 106(4)(b) as follows:

(4) No person shall drive on a highway a motor vehicle in which there is a passenger who is under 16 years old unless,

(b) that passenger is required by the regulations to be secured by a child seating system or child restraint system, and is so secured.  2006, c. 25, s. 1.

This section of law specifies that very young children who require a specific seating or restraint system must be properly secured.  This is the responsibility of the driver of the vehicle.

What Is The Proper Way To Wear A Seat Belt In Ontario?

Highway Traffic Act section 106(5) specifically lays out how a seat belt assembly must be properly worn:

  • the pelvic restraint is worn firmly against the body and across the hips;
  • the torso restraint, if there is one, is worn closely against the body and over the shoulder and across the chest;
  • the pelvic restraint, and the torso restraint, if there is one, are securely fastened; and
  • no more than one person is wearing the seat belt assembly at any one time. 

Are There Any Exemptions To Wearing A Seat Belt In Ontario?

Yes. Subsections (2) and (3) do not apply to a person:

(a) who is driving a motor vehicle in reverse;

(b) who holds a certificate signed by a legally qualified medical practitioner certifying that the person is,

(i) for the period stated in the certificate, unable for medical reasons to wear a seat belt assembly, or

(ii) because of the person’s size, build or other physical characteristic, unable to wear a seat belt assembly; or

(c) who is actually engaged in work which requires him or her to alight from and re-enter the motor vehicle at frequent intervals and the motor vehicle does not travel at a speed exceeding 40 kilometres per hour.  2006, c. 25, s. 1.

Subsection (4)(a) does not apply to a passenger if the passenger holds a certificate signed by a legally qualified medical practitioner certifying that the passenger is:

(a) for the period stated in the certificate, unable for medical reasons to wear a seat belt assembly; or

(b) because of the person’s size, build or other physical characteristic, unable to wear a seat belt assembly.  2006, c. 25, s. 1.

What Is The Fine For Not Wearing A Seat Belt In Ontario?

The fine for contravening Ontario’s seat belt laws depends on how you were charged by the police:

  • If you received a ticket, the ticket will list a specific fine of $200.00 plus a $35.00 victim fine surcharge and a $5.00 court cost.
  • If you received a summons, the fine will be determined at court and can range between $200 and $1,000.00 plus the victim fine surcharge.

How Many Demerit Points Do I Get For A Seat Belt Ticket In Ontario?

If you are convicted of a seat belt offence, that record of conviction is added to your driving history along with demerit points as follows:

HTA Section

Demerit Points

106(1)

0

106(2)

2

106(3)(a)

0

106(3)(b)

0

106(4)(a)(i)

2

106(4)(a)(ii)

2

106(4)(b)

2

How Many CVOR Points Do I Get For A Seat Belt Ticket In Ontario?

Commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers, such as transport truck drivers, also have to be careful of receiving CVOR points.  CVOR points impact the driver’s employer and can result in the driver losing their employment.

HTA Section

CVOR Points

106(1)

1

106(2)

1

106(3)(a)

0

106(3)(b)

0

106(4)(a)(i)

1

106(4)(a)(ii)

1

106(4)(b)

1

Can A Seat Belt Ticket Increase My Insurance?

Yes.  A conviction for a seat belt offence is always visible to the court, but will generally be visible to your insurance company for 3 years from its conviction date.  Upon becoming aware of the conviction, your insurance company may either increase your insurance rate or require you to seek out costly ‘high risk’ insurance.

How Can I Fight A Seat Belt Ticket?

The easiest and most effective way to fight a seat belt ticket is through a paralegal.  Paralegals are cost-effective and know the law.  Many defendants attempt to fight their own seat belt tickets at court by providing an explanation about why they were not wearing their seat belt and end up convicted. 

Most seat belt matters cost relatively little in legal work and can help avoid a costly conviction that can impact your life for years into the future.  In fact, many of these cases can be resolved without you ever needing to step foot in the court room.  Let your paralegal take the stress and anxiety out of the legal process for you.

If you have been charged by the police, our 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 and provide you with the basic information that you will need to make informed decisions.  Our friendly staff 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 the day or night and one of our staff will contact you during regular business hours to assist you.

Posted under Seat Belts, Traffic Ticket Defence

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