Every year in December Ontarians gear up for the holiday season with increased travel on Canada’s wintery roads for holiday celebrations and to see family and friends. Correspondingly to the increased amount of travel, bad road conditions, and the excitement of the season, our team sees a elevated level of calls from people seeking help for Highway Traffic Act and Compulsory Automobile Insurance Act offences.
What can you do to help ensure a safe and fun holiday season this year?
Let’s take a look at the most common problems…
SPEEDING AND STUNT DRIVING
Speeding charges are the single most common offence that we assist clients with before the courts. In more serious cases where the rate of speed exceeds the posted speed limit by 50 km/h or more, a Stunt Driving charge will not only result in very serious court, licensing, and insurance penalties…but leave you at roadside with a suspended license and your vehicle towed and impounded.
Speeding offences are penalized for demerit points as follows:
(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).
Accordingly, court fines will increase the farther over the posted speed limit you go and insurance costs will be tied to how your specific insurance company calculates risk assessment. If you are a G1 or G2 driver, a conviction for 4 or more demerit points will result in additional escalated sanctions penalties such as license suspension or the outright cancelling of your license. Speeding charges under section 128 of the Highway Traffic Act that are 50 km/h or greater go to Provincial Crown prosecution and can receive up to a 30 day license suspension at court.
More commonly speeding charges at 50 km/h or more over the posted speed limit are charged under section 172 of the HTA as “Stunt Driving” or “Race Motor Vehicle.” These are incredibly serious charges. The immediate consequence is a suspension of your driver’s license and being left at roadside as your vehicle is towed and impounded. Towing and impounding costs can easily range between $400 to $1500 depending upon where you happen to be. The total-payable fine (court fine plus the 25% victim fine surcharge) issued at court will then range between $2,500.00 to $12,500.00 and can also come with jail time or a license suspension for up to 2 years (or up to 10 years if it is a second or later offence).
Best advice? Slow down. Enjoy the holidays. Enjoy the experience of travelling. Get to your destination without being stopped by the police.
ALCOHOL RELATED CHARGES
The holiday season generally brings with it celebrations and the consumption of alcohol. With the large amount of public awareness surrounding drinking and driving from the government or groups like MADD, almost everyone has heard of “Impaired Driving” or “Over 80” offences under the Criminal Code of Canada.
But. Are you aware that G1 or G2 drivers or drivers 21 years of age or younger must maintain a 0% blood-alcohol concentration (BAC)? That means you could go to a celebration at a friend’s home where you consume alcohol, act responsibly by staying the night, but still be charged for driving with a non-zero BAC offence on your way home the next morning. Even a small, residual amount of alcohol in your body could result in being charged and having your license suspended if you are convicted.
Best advice? Enjoy your holidays! However, if you drink…arrange for a sober designated driver or an alternate means of transportation such as a bus, taxi, Uber, etc.
The holiday season means busy roadways. It also means the onset of winter weather and bad road conditions. Driver’s can be distracted thinking about their plans. Roads can be slippery. It’s a horrible mix that can result in collisions, injuries, or even fatalities.
The most common charge issued by police in the event of a collision is Careless Driving under section 130 of the HTA. These charges carry 6 demerit points and can result in having to go onto a high-risk insurer such as Facility Insurance. If the offence is issued by way of a summons, the total-payable court fine could go as high as $2,500.00 and could even result in jail time or a suspension of driver’s license up to two years.
Best advice? Be mindful of bad road conditions, the activity of other nearby vehicles, and take your time to arrive at your destination safely.
The holidays are for enjoying friends, family, and the festive spirit of the season. However, despite our best efforts, sometimes unexpected problems can happen. Speeding, stunt driving, alcohol-related, and collision-related charges are only a few of the possible offences that can unexpectedly happen to even the best of us. With the increased travel and distractions of the holiday season, keep mindful of other driver’s on Ontario’s roads and drive safely.