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Speeding Tops The List During OPP’s latest “Distracted Driving” Safety Blitz

Speeding Tops The List During OPP’s latest “Distracted Driving” Safety Blitz

Labour Day weekend is what many consider the last weekend of summer. The last long weekend to enjoy the summer weather before the colder fall weather arrives. Many take to the road on trips to their cottages or to visit with family. Look at any major highway on the Thursday or Friday of a long weekend and you will see a vast array of RV’s and trucks towing boats heading out for a long weekend adventure. With the added amount of vehicles on the highway it also leads to a larger police presence. 

The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) are responsible for patrolling our highways and regularly hold annual safety blitz’s in an effort to target a certain offence. For example, “Seat-belt Awareness Week” or “Distracted Driving Safety Blitz” are just two examples. The police do these blitzes throughout the year at different times and will actively advise the public leading up to the blitz. Despite the word “blitz”, these enforcement events are not “surprise attacks” by the police. They make well known they will be out in a larger force enforcing a certain charge. 

Recently, the OPP launched their annual “Distracted Driving Blitz” over this past Labour Day weekend. As the name of the blitz may indicate, it was a 4-day blitz dedicated to enforcing distracting driving or what is legally known as “Driving While Holding or Using A Handheld Communication Device”. The charge applies to anything found to be holding or using a hand-held communication device (e.g. a cellphone) while driving a vehicle. 

Although the OPP will be actively looking for offenders of distracted driving, they will not simply look past other offences they come across in their duties. Do not be mistaken that because an officer is looking for distracted drivers, that they will not pull you over for another offence such as not wearing your seat-belt or driving carelessly. 

The Ontario Provincial Police have released the results of the blitz and it is evident that the police did not only come across offenders for distracting driving during their enforcement. In fact, distracting driving was not the leading charge laid, or even the second highest charge laid. 

This past Labour Day weekend the OPP initiated over 8400 traffic stops. Those stops resulted in just over 8200 charges being laid! The majority of these charges were for Speeding, with more than 5,200 charges laid! Speeding was followed by: Failing to Wear a Seatbelt (250), Stunt Driving/Racing (157) and lastly, Distracted Driving (98). 

Each of these charges has a different penalty and impact on your driving record. If you have been charged with any of these offences, you will want to understand what exactly they mean. Let’s cover the need to know about each charge. 

WHAT IS SPEEDING?

Speeding charges in Ontario fall under section 128 of the Highway Traffic Act:

128 (1) No person shall drive a motor vehicle at a rate of speed greater than,

  1. 50 kilometres per hour on a highway within a local municipality or within a built-up area;
  2. despite clause (a), 80 kilometres per hour on a highway, not within a built-up area, that is within a local municipality that had the status of a township on December 31, 2002 and, but for the enactment of the Municipal Act, 2001, would have had the status of a township on January 1, 2003, if the municipality is prescribed by regulation;
  3. 80 kilometres per hour on a highway designated by the Lieutenant Governor in Council as a controlled-access highway under the Public Transportation and Highway Improvement Act, whether or not the highway is within a local municipality or built-up area;
  4. the rate of speed prescribed for motor vehicles on a highway in accordance with subsection (2), (5), (6), (6.1) or (7);
  5. the maximum rate of speed set under subsection (10) and posted in a construction zone designated under subsection (8) or (8.1); or
  6. the maximum rate of speed posted on a highway or portion of a highway pursuant to section 128.0.1. 2005, c. 26, Sched. A, s. 17 (1); 2006, c. 11, Sched. B, s. 6 (2); 2006, c. 32, Sched. D, s. 4 (1).
HOW MANY DEMERIT POINTS DO I GET FOR SPEEDING?

New Ontario drivers start out with a clean driving history and zero demerit points. If they are convicted of an offence, that record of conviction is entered against their driving history. Convictions can carry a demerit point penalty that ranges from 0 to 7 demerit points depending upon which section of the law they were convicted under. For Ontario drivers with a speeding offence, demerit point penalties are as follows:

Range of SpeedingDemerit Points
+1 to +150
+16 to +293
+30 to +494
+50 or greater6
HOW MANY CVOR POINTS DO I GET FOR SPEEDING?

Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) drivers, such as transport truck drivers, need to be especially careful of speeding offences. CVOR points escalate much more quickly than demerit points do: To provide context, a charge of speeding at 21 km/h or more over the posted speed limit carries the exact same CVOR point penalty as would an offence of Careless Driving for incidents such as colliding with a pedestrian or vehicle, or running your commercial motor vehicle into an object or off the roadway. A 5 CVOR point conviction (or a poor driving record) can result in the termination of your employment and difficulties in finding new employment.

Click here to find out more about speeding tickets in Ontario.

WHAT TYPES OF SEAT BELT CHARGES ARE THERE?

The Highway Traffic Act (HTA) deals with seat belt offences under section 106. There are seven main areas of seat belt law:

HTA SectionOffence Wording
106(1)Drive with Seat Belt Inoperative
106(2)Driver – Fail to Properly Wear Seat Belt
106(3)(a)Passenger – Fail to Occupy Position with Seat Belt
106(3)(b)Passenger – Fail to Properly Wear Seat Belt
106(4)(a)(i)Drive While Passenger Under 16 Fails to Occupy Position with Seat Belt
106(4)(a)(ii)Drive While Passenger Under 16 Fails to Properly Wear Seat Belt
106(4)(b)Drive While Child Passenger Not Properly Secured
HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO LEGALLY WEAR A SEAT BELT?

The proper, legal use of a seat belt is defined under section 106(5) Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act as follows:

A seat belt assembly shall be worn so that,

  1. the pelvic restraint is worn firmly against the body and across the hips;
  2. the torso restraint, if there is one, is worn closely against the body and over the shoulder and across the chest;
  3. the pelvic restraint, and the torso restraint, if there is one, are securely fastened; and
  4. no more than one person is wearing the seat belt assembly at any one time. 2006, c. 25, s. 1.
WHAT ARE THE PENALTIES FOR A SEAT BELT TICKET?

Generally, a conviction will result in three types of penalties: court penalties, licence penalties, and insurance costs.

When the court convicts a defendant and issues a fine, there are two components to that fine. The first is the fine prescribed by law for the specific offence, which in the case of seat belt tickets is a set fine of $200. On top of the set fine is a $5 court cost and the victim fine surcharge, which in these cases would be $35.00. This results in a total payable fine of $240.00:

Set FineCourt CostVFSTotal Fine
$200.00$5.00$35.00$240.00

In very exceptional cases, a seat belt conviction can exceed the $200.00 set fine and go up to a maximum of a $1,000.00 court fine for a total payable fine of $1,250.00.

For licencing penalties, regular drivers can face a demerit point penalty and commercial motor vehicle drivers (such as transport truck drivers) can also face a CVOR penalty as follows:

HTA SectionDemerit PointsCVOR POINTS
106(1)01
106(2)21
106(3)(a)00
106(3)(b)00
106(4)(a)(i)21
106(4)(a)(ii)21
106(4)(b)21

It is important to note that even when an offence carries no demerit point penalty, it will still show as a record of conviction on your driving record. Third parties such as an employer or insurance company will generally see convictions for 3 years from their conviction dates. Oftentimes the additional insurance costs of a conviction can quickly exceed the original fine issued by the court. Your insurance broker can help assist you in understanding the long-term costs due to an increase in your risk assessment and insurance rate.

Click here for more information on Seatbelt tickets in Ontario. 

WHAT IS STUNT DRIVING / RACE MOTOR VEHICLE?

Stunt Driving falls under section 172 of the Highway Traffic Act: “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 is an incredibly brief and broadly worded definition compared to the severity of the penalties that can be issued by the court. To find the actual definitions for what constitutes a “race,” “contest,” or “stunt,” it is necessary to turn to Ontario Regulation 455/07. “Race” or “contest” is defined as follows:

2. (1) For the purposes of section 172 of the Act, “race” and “contest” include any activity where one or more persons engage in any of the following driving behaviours:

  1. 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.
  2. Driving a motor vehicle in a manner that indicates an intention to chase another motor vehicle.
  3. 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,
    1. driving a motor vehicle at a rate of speed that is a marked departure from the lawful rate of speed,
    2. 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
    3. 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. O. Reg. 455/07, s. 2 (1).

2) In this section, “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. O. Reg. 455/07, s. 2 (2).

“Stunt” has a very extensive variety of definitions under Ontario Regulation 455/07:

3. For the purposes of section 172 of the Act, “stunt” includes any activity where one or more persons engage in any of the following driving behaviours:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Driving a motor vehicle in a manner that indicates an intention to spin it or cause it to circle, without maintaining control over it.
  4. 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.
  5. Driving a motor vehicle with a person in the trunk of the motor vehicle.
  6. Driving a motor vehicle while the driver is not sitting in the driver’s seat.
  7. Driving a motor vehicle at a rate of speed that is 50 kilometres per hour or more over the speed limit.
  8. 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,
    1. driving a motor vehicle in a manner that indicates an intention to prevent another vehicle from passing,
    2. 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,
    3. 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
    4. making a left turn where,
      1. the driver is stopped at an intersection controlled by a traffic control signal system in response to a circular red indication;
      2. at least one vehicle facing the opposite direction is similarly stopped in response to a circular red indication; and
      3. 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. O. Reg. 455/07, s. 3.

The most common grounds that we see our clients charged under are for either losing tire traction with the road (such as performing a ‘burn out’ or squealing the tires due to rapid acceleration) or travelling at 50 km/h or more over the posted speed limit.

WHAT ARE THE PENALTIES FOR STUNT DRIVING?

A conviction for Stunt Driving can result in court, licencing, and insurance penalties. 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 ranks Stunt Driving as a 6 demerit point offence. A convicted defendant will, at a minimum, receive an MTO warning letter regarding their licence. Depending upon your driving history and current demerit points, you could also be required to attend an MTO interview (that you must pay to attend) or face a mandatory suspension of your driver’s licence. Given the serious nature of Stunt Driving, a conviction may also result in no longer being insurable under a standard insurance policy. Being forced into high-risk insurance can result in thousands of dollars of additional insurances costs or not being insurable at all if the costs are unaffordable. Being charged with Stunt Driving incurs very serious consequences even before your first court date. Upon being charged, your vehicle will immediately be towed and impounded for seven days. Towing and impounding fees can range anywhere from a few hundred dollars to well over a thousand dollars. Your driver’s licence will also be immediately seized and suspended. This means additional transportation costs in meeting your day-to-day travel requirements. Worst case, if your employment specifically requires having a valid driver’s licence you could miss work time or face loss of employment.

Click USING A HAND-HELD DEVICE

As of January 1, 2019, these highway traffic offences carry a minimum fine of $500 and three demerit points. The tricky part with the regulation is that you don’t necessarily need to communicate over a hand-held device to break the law.

Driving while holding a mobile device violates the law. Even if it’s a smartwatch on your wrist, you’re not allowed to use it—independent of whether it’s connected to the internet or your phone. Call OTD Ticket Defenders Legal Services to help you navigate through this complicated regulation.

Click here for more information on Stunt Driving/Racing charges in Ontario.

HOW CAN I FIGHT MY TICKET?

If you are one of the unlucky 8,200 drivers that received a ticket this past long weekend, get in touch with us. Most of these proceedings don’t require your physical attendance. 

Call OTD Ticket Defenders Legal Services on our toll-free number: 1-866-821-8354. We offer free consultations with no strings attached. You can also email at info@otdlegal.ca or text us at 226-240-2480. You are also free to submit a consultation request online at any given time: Our staff will get in touch with you during regular business hours.

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