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Posted: March 08, 2018
By: Ron Harper

Ontario roadways have certainly seen their fair share of strange driver behaviour.  Virtually any day of the week will find news reports about excessive rates of speed, drivers going off the road, vehicles travelling on the wrong side of Highway 401, etc.  It is said that the law often lags behind changes to our society and technology, but the opposite can also be true that laws can become antiquated and remain on the books despite lacking any current relevancy.  Laws may also have come into effect to deal with incredibly rare circumstances where the average Ontarian wouldn't even begin to imagine the need for such laws.  Let's take a look at some of these strange and uncommon laws.

If you haven't read, "STRANGE AND UNCOMMON HIGHWAY TRAFFIC ACT CHARGES IN ONTARIO - PART 1" take a few minutes to read the first article in this series.

Ever had to land your airplane on a highway or take off from an Ontario highway?  No?  Well, section 187 of the Highway Traffic Act deals with that rare eventuality:

"187 (1) Where an aircraft has made an emergency landing on a highway, the pilot in command thereof, if he or she is physically capable, shall, as soon after landing as is reasonably possible, remove or cause it to be removed from the roadway.  R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 187 (1).

Aircraft and movement along highway subject to Act

(2) Subject to subsection (3), no aircraft shall be driven or drawn along a highway unless the aircraft and the movement thereof comply with the provisions of this Act respecting vehicles and the movement thereof on a highway.  R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 187 (2).

Aircraft take-off from highway

(3) Where an aircraft has landed on a highway because of an emergency related to the operation of the aircraft, the aircraft may take off from the highway provided,

(a) a licensed commercial pilot, not being the owner of the aircraft, who is qualified to fly that class and category of aircraft, and the pilot in command of the aircraft are both satisfied that the aircraft is airworthy and that there are no physical obstructions on or over the highway which would make such take-off unsafe;

(b) the pilot in command of the aircraft is satisfied that weather conditions are satisfactory for the purpose and that the minimum requirements are met under the visual flight rules established by the regulations made under the Aeronautics Act (Canada) or, if the flight is to be continued under instrument flight rules, that adequate arrangements can be made for obtaining a clearance from an air traffic control unit prior to entering instrument flight weather conditions;

(c) traffic control is provided by the appropriate police force; and

(d) the police force consents to the take-off.  R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 187 (3).


(4) Every person who contravenes this section is guilty of an offence and on conviction is liable to a fine of not more than $10,000.  R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 187 (4).

No liability where good faith

(5) No proceeding for damages shall be instituted against a police force, police officer or pilot, for an act or an omission done or omitted to be done by it, him or her in respect of the subject-matter of subsection (3) where the force, officer or pilot was acting in good faith.  R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 187 (5)."

It is legally permissible to land an airplane and subsequently take off from an Ontario highway due to an emergency so long as the various established criteria are met.  Failing to comply with the requirements of this section could result in a maximum fine of $10,000.00 plus the 25% victim fine surcharge ($12,500.00 in total).  Fortunately however, most Ontarians will not find themselves in this incredibly rare circumstance!

"Approaching ridden or driven horses, etc.

167 Every person having the control or charge of a motor vehicle or motor assisted bicycle on a highway, when approaching a horse or other animal that is drawing a vehicle or being driven, led or ridden, shall operate, manage and control the motor vehicle or motor assisted bicycle so as to exercise every reasonable precaution to prevent the frightening of the horse or other animal and to ensure the safety and protection of any person driving, leading or riding upon the horse or other animal or being in any vehicle drawn by the horse or other animal.  R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 167."

This should be common sense and safety...  Have you ever been driving along and seen someone riding their horse along the roadway and wondered what would happen if you suddenly honked your horn while passing?  Aside from potentially causing an accident and serious injury, HTA section 167 would result in a total payable fine of $110.00 for doing so ($150.00 if the event happened in a community safety zone).  Oddly, the offence carries a very lenient 0 demerit points for regular drivers but would carry a very heavy-handed 5 CVOR points for commercial motor vehicles.

Before heading to work in the morning as you hitch your horse up to your sleigh before braving the commute to work...have you ever stopped to ponder if you have enough sleigh bells?  No?  I'm not surprised...  However, Highway Traffic Act section 77(1) has something to say on the matter:

"Sleigh bells

77 (1) Every person travelling on a highway with a sleigh or sled drawn by a horse or other animal shall have at least two bells attached to the harness or to the sleigh or sled in such a manner as to give ample warning sound.  R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 77 (1).


(2) Every person who contravenes subsection (1) is guilty of an offence and on conviction is liable to a fine of not more than $5.  R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 77 (2)."

You are required to attach at least two bells to the harness in such a manner as to provide ample warning to others on the roadway.  Feeling dangerous or rebellious and don't want to comply with this law?  Well, if so, you're going to be facing a $5.00 fine ($20 once the victim fine surcharge is applied).  Undoubtedly this fine had more financial impact when it originally went on the books...

While it is fine to have a little light-hearted fun with some of the odder or more obscure sections of the Highway Traffic Act, there are certainly many very serious sections of law that can have enormous financial repercussions or cause loss of licencing, large increases to insurance costs, or even imprisonment.  It is always prudent to seek out information about what you have been charged with and the consequences of a conviction before deciding how to handle being charged by the police.

If you have been charged by the police, OTD Legal provides a no cost, no obligation review to provide you with the basic information that you will need to make an informed decision and can provide you with a flat-rate for legal work so that you can balance out the costs and benefits of protecting your interests at court.  Our office can be reached by email at info@otdlegal.ca or via toll-free telephone at 1-844-657-6869.


Posted under Traffic Ticket Defence