The holiday season should be one of celebration and fun! Enjoying the company of friends and family as well as the wonderful beauty of Canada and the winter season. The last thing that anyone wants during this festive season is to run afoul of the law and end up being charged by the police. Today we’ll take a look at two seasonal problems: obscured license plates and impaired driving for young and novice drivers. Let’s take a look at how to help keep your holidays happy!
OBSTRUCTED LICENCE PLATES
With the Winter weather that hits Ontario’s roadways, we have to deal with snow, slush, as well as the dirt from roadway sanders. We can also have fluctuating temperatures than can result in rain, freezing rain, or snow falls. How often have you driven during the winter time and seen the vehicle in front of you with their license plate unreadable? The license plate could be covered in road grime, snow, or ice…whatever the cause, an obscured license plate that is not fully readable can get you in trouble with the law.
In this circumstance, the police could charge you with “Number Plate To Be Kept Clean” under Highway Traffic Act (HTA) section 13(2):
(2) Every number plate shall be kept free from dirt and obstruction and shall be affixed so that the entire number plate, including the numbers, is plainly visible at all times, and the view of the number plate shall not be obscured or obstructed by spare tires, bumper bars, any part of the vehicle, any attachments to the vehicle or the load carried. 1994, c. 27, s. 138 (7).
License plate offences could also include adding some type of holiday decoration to your vehicle that covers some or all of the license plate. Do you have a set of stuffed elf or reindeer legs humorously hanging from your trunk? Have you attached a decorative license plate frame or cover to your car? If it covers some or all of your license plate, you could be charged with “Obstruction Prohibited” under any of the subsections listed under HTA section 13(3) as follows:
(3) The number plates shall not be obstructed by any device that prevents the entire number plates including the numbers from being accurately photographed using a photo-radar system. 1993, c. 31, s. 2 (5).
Note: On a day to be named by proclamation of the Lieutenant Governor, subsection 13 (3) of the Act is repealed and the following substituted: (See: 2017, c. 9, s. 3)
(3) The number plates shall not be obstructed by any device that prevents the entire number plates including the numbers from being accurately photographed using an automated speed enforcement system. 2017, c. 9, s. 3.
(3.0.1) The number plates shall not be obstructed by any device that prevents the entire number plates including the numbers from being accurately photographed using a red light camera system. 1998, c. 38, s. 2 (1).
(3.1) The number plates shall not be obstructed by any device or material that prevents the entire number plates including the numbers from being identified by an electronic toll system. 1996, c. 1, Sched. E, s. 2 (1).
While none of these charges carry demerit points, pleading guilty or being found guilty at court would result in a record of conviction against your driver’s license and could also result in an increase to your insurance costs. On top of that, you would also be receiving a total-payable fine of $110.00. Certainly not a very welcome expense during an already expensive time of year…!
YOUNG OR NOVICE DRIVERS AND ALCOHOL
Even an adult with a full license has to be incredibly careful about consuming alcohol or cannabis and then getting behind the wheel to drive. The consequences of an Impaired Driving or Over 80 criminal conviction should make anyone think twice. However, young or novice drivers have to be even more careful as they must legally have no alcohol or drugs in their system. Zero. Even if they consumed the night before and spent the night sleeping, their blood stream may still contain detectable levels from alcohol or cannabis consumption.
Section 44.1 (8) of the Highway Traffic Act defines novice and young drivers as follows:
- “novice driver” has the meaning prescribed by the regulations made under section 57.1 (“conducteur débutant”)
- “young driver” means a driver who is under 22 years old. (“jeune conducteur”)
Effectively, a novice driver would be a driver still in the MTO’s graduated licensing system (G1, G2, M1, M2, M2-L, or M2-M). If you are 21 years of age or less, you are classed as a young driver.
It is not uncommon during the holidays for Ontarians to enjoy a celebratory drink or two. Now with the legalization of Cannabis in Canada, this is another type of impairment that could occur. The law surrounding these two types of impairment are broken down by type of impairment and type of driver.
Novice drivers are prohibited from having any alcohol or drugs in their system under HTA sections 44.1(1) and 44.2(1) respectively:
44.1 (1) It is a condition of the driver’s license of every novice driver that his or her blood alcohol concentration level be zero while he or she is driving a motor vehicle on a highway. 2009, c. 5, s. 14.
44.2 (1) It is a condition of the driver’s license of every novice driver that there be no drug in his or her body, as indicated by approved drug screening equipment, while he or she is driving a motor vehicle on a highway. 2017, c. 26, Sched. 4, s. 5.
Young drivers are prohibited from having any alcohol or drugs in their system under HTA sections 44.1(2) and 44.2(2) respectively:
44.1 (2) It is a condition of the driver’s license of every young driver that his or her blood alcohol concentration level be zero while he or she is driving a motor vehicle on a highway. 2009, c. 5, s. 14.
44.2 (2) It is a condition of the driver’s license of every young driver that there be no drug in his or her body, as indicated by approved drug screening equipment, while he or she is driving a motor vehicle on a highway. 2017, c. 26, Sched. 4, s. 5.
The penalties for a conviction depend on whether you are a young driver or a novice driver. For a young driver (21 years of age or younger), the court penalties would be as follows:
is guilty of an offence and on conviction is liable to a fine of not less than $60 and not more than $500 and his or her driver’s license is thereupon suspended for 30 days
For a novice driver, the court penalties would be:
is guilty of an offence and on conviction is liable to a fine of not less than $60 and not more than $500
It is important to note that the court-imposed fine for either circumstance is also subject to an additional victim fine surcharge. In comparing the two sets of penalties, the noticeable difference is that young drivers are assigned a 30 day license suspension by the court whereas novice drivers are not. Why is that? The answer is that novice drivers are subject to escalated sanctions penalties by the MTO:
- For a first offence: your driver’s license is suspended for 30 days.
- For a second offence: your driver’s license is suspended for 90 days.
- For a third offence: you will lose your novice license. You will need to re-apply for your license and start all over, taking all tests and paying all fees. You will also lose any time discount you earned, any time you were credited, and any fees you have paid.
A conviction for driving with drugs or alcohol in your system as a novice or young driver may also result in an increase to your insurance rates being forced into ‘high risk’ insurance. If you are not able to afford highrisk insurance, you will not be able to legally drive until such time as you are able to qualify for affordable insurance once more.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I’M CHARGED BY THE POLICE?
If you are charged by the police, you should contact our office as soon as possible. You are going to need to gather the basic information that you will need to make informed decisions in protecting your legal, licensing, and financial interests. OTD Ticket Defenders Legal Services offers a no-cost, no-obligation initial consultation to assist you.
Do You Need To Defend Yourself Against An Ontario Traffic Ticket?
If you need to defend your driving rights against an Ontario traffic ticket you should contact us as soon as possible. We have skill and experience in helping drivers just like you respond to a variety of traffic tickets and provide free, confidential consultations to empower you to fight your charges. We help drivers throughout Ontario including Cambridge, Georgetown, London, Windsor and from our home office in Kitchener. Contact us online or call us directly at 1.844.647.6869 or text us a copy of your ticket to 226-240-2480.