The Highway Traffic Act and Compulsory Automobile Insurance Act carry a wide range of offences carrying penalties that equally range from a small slap on the wrist to large fines, licence suspension, and even jail. Our team at OTD Ticket Defenders Legal Services frequently help clients with offences that fall along this spectrum of severity. So, what are some of the most serious offences that we assist our clients with?
Operate Motor Vehicle – No Insurance
contrary to Compulsory Automobile Insurance Act (CAIA) section 2(1)(a), is a very common serious offence issued in Ontario. When a fine is issued against a defendant, there are two components. The first component is the fine stated in the relevant section of law; the second is the victim fine surcharge (25 % of the base fine for Provincial Prosecution matters). A first conviction for driving without valid insurance carries a base fine ranging for $5,000.00 to $25,000.00 for a total payable fine ranging from $6,250.00 to $31,250.00. For a second or later offence, the range of fine doubles from a minimum total payable fine of $12,500.00 to a maximum total payable of $62,500.00. Upon conviction, the court may also issue a driver’s licence suspension up to one year. CAIA section 2(1)(b) lays out identical penalties for permitting an uninsured vehicle to be driven by another person.
False or invalid proof of insurance
Under CAIA section 13.1, the possessing, giving, selling, distributing, or providing to a police officer for inspection of a false or invalid proof of insurance carries even more severe penalties. Fines for a first conviction range from a minimum total payable fine of $12,500.00 to $62,500.00 and doubles to a range of $25,000.00 to $125,000.00 on a second or later offence. Such large fines can be a crippling financial burden to the average person and are generally far in excess of the cost of obtaining valid insurance for a vehicle.
Drive Under Suspension
Drive Under Suspension, contrary to Highway Traffic Act (HTA) section 53, is another very common serious offence that we assist clients with. On a first offence, a total payable fine ranges from a minimum of $1,250.00 up to a maximum of $6,250.00. On a second or later offence, the minimum total payable fine doubles to $2,500.00 and the maximum remains at $6,250.00. If the original cause for licence suspension is due to one of the various causes defined under HTA section 41 or 42, the total payable fine jumps to a range of $6,250.00 to $31,250.00 on a first offence and $12,500.00 to $62,500.00 on a second or later offence.
Upon conviction under HTA section 53, there is also a mandatory 6 month driver’s licence suspension that unfortunately can not be reduced or waived by the court. A conviction for driving with a suspended licence can also result in a period of imprisonment not to exceed more than six months. Generally, although not guaranteed, imprisonment is unlikely on a first conviction for driving with a suspended licence. However, subsequent convictions are much more likely to result in a term of imprisonment being issued (generally increasing in duration with each subsequent conviction).
Careless Driving, contrary to HTA section 130, is a very common offence issued to drivers who have been involved in a motor vehicle collision. This offence carries one of the largest possible demerit point penalties of six demerits (7 demerit points being the largest possible penalty). Depending upon how the offence has been issued against the defendant, Careless Driving fines may either result in a fixed fine or a total payable fine ranging up to a maximum of $2,500.00. Upon conviction, where the details of the offence warrant, a term of imprisonment up to six months may also be issued against the defendant. The defendant’s driver’s licence can also be suspended for up to a two year period by the court.
These are only a few of the very serious offences that we assist our clients with. If you have been charged with any of these offences or another serious offence, it is important to understand what penalties may be issued against you and what potential defences and outcomes are possible by having your defence provided at court. Where an outright defence can not be argued to have charge(s) withdrawn or dismissed, most remaining cases can generally be negotiated to reduce the number or nature of the charges and penalties. The benefits of hiring licenced and experienced legal representation in protecting your interests will generally exceed the costs of doing so.
Arguably one of the most serious offences under the Highway Traffic Act is Stunt Driving (alternately worded as Race Motor Vehicle). There is a broad range of circumstances where this charge can be issued against a defendant; the two most common circumstances are where either one or more vehicles are racing with each other on a roadway or where a single vehicle is traveling at 50 km/h or greater over the posted speed limit. The immediate consequence of being stopped by the police and charged with this offence is that your vehicle will be impounded and your licence will be suspended immediately at roadside. These immediate penalties are without your defence being presented in a court of law and can be applied against you whether you are in fact guilty or innocent.
Demerit Points for Stunt Driving
A conviction under HTA s. 172 for Stunt Driving results in a 6 demerit point penalty being applied against your driver’s licence. A 6 demerit point penalty is the second largest penalty that can be issued, with 7 demerit points being the maximum penalty. If your licence is a class 1 or class 2 licence (i.e. G1 or G2), any conviction resulting in 4 or greater demerit point penalty will result in ‘escalated sanctions’ being issued against your licence (either a licence suspension or licence revocation depending on your previous driving record).
The insurance repercussion for a conviction under HTA s.172 is that you will usually be removed from standard insurance coverage and be forced to seek out high risk insurance coverage. It is also possible that the driving history record of the roadside suspension alone may trigger insurance problems even if the offence itself is thrown out at court. Depending on your insurance company and driving history, high risk insurance will generally start at $5,000 to $7,000 per year until you can again qualify for standard insurance. The best and most accurate information regarding insurance repercussions can be found by specifically speaking with your insurance broker.
Fine for Stunt Driving
At court, a conviction can result in a total payable fine (the base fine plus the 25% victim fine surcharge) ranging from $2,500.00 up to $12,500.00. At the discretion of the court, a jail term of not more than six months may also be issued. On a first conviction for Stunt Driving, your licence may be suspended by the court (separate from any MTO licence suspension due to demerit points) for up to two years. A second conviction under HTA s.172 can result in a licence suspension up to ten years depending on how long ago your previous conviction occurred.
Even the minimum total payable fine of $2,500.00 can be a crippling financial burden for the average individual or family…let alone the increased costs to remain insured or the costs of having your licence suspended and no longer being able to drive for personal or employment purposes. However, in such cases it is possible to make an application to the court to argue undue financial hardship that can potentially reduce the fine to either the minimum fine or below the minimum fine depending upon your income and expense levels.
If you have been charged under Highway Traffic Act section 172 for Stunt Driving or Race Motor Vehicle, you may wish to immediately seek out legal assistance to determine what can be done minimize or eliminate the penalties that you are facing. Our OTD Ticket Defenders Legal Services team can generally review your case and provide basic information about your charges and the court process within as little as 10 to 15 minutes. We offer a no cost, no obligation review of matters by calling our toll-free number at 1-866-459-6645, via email firstname.lastname@example.org, through our website, or at any of our offices in person.