Understanding Street Racing Laws in Ontario

Clients often inquire about street racing laws in Ontario, and it’s crucial to clarify the nuances associated with charges of street racing or stunt driving.

Synonymous Terms: Street Racing and Stunt Driving

  • In Ontario, the terms “street racing” and “stunt driving” are used interchangeably.
  • Both charges fall under the same section of the Highway Traffic Act, specifically section 172, despite the use of different labels on charging documents.

Section 172 of the Highway Traffic Act

  • Whether labeled as street racing or stunt driving, the legal foundation for both charges is Section 172, which outlines offenses related to racing on public roads.

Differentiating Street Racing from Stunt Driving

  • Street racing laws encompass scenarios where a vehicle exhibits behaviors associated with racing, such as squealing tires or rapid acceleration.
  • Two vehicles accelerating aggressively from a traffic light, even if they don’t exceed speed limits by a specific margin, can be considered street racing.

Element of Speed in Stunt Driving

  • While most cases involving street racing/stunt driving involve speeding, the specific charge does not hinge on exceeding a certain speed threshold.
  • The appearance of racing, even below the 40 or 50 kilometers over the limit threshold, can lead to charges under Section 172.

Objective Standard for Charges

  • The decision to charge an individual with street racing or stunt driving is based on an officer’s subjective judgment of the situation.
  • Even if no direct competition occurs, the appearance of racing is sufficient for charges.

 

Understanding these distinctions is crucial for individuals facing such charges, as they carry significant consequences. If you find yourself in such a situation, seeking legal advice is advisable. Learn more about the difference between dangerous driving and careless driving or watch our video on street racing laws in Ontario for additional insights.

Video Transcription:

A question that’s come up at OTD Legal from clients is, what are the street racing laws in Ontario? First of all, street racing and stunt driving are used synonymously. So if a client is saying, I was charged with racing. They’re, they’re still charged with the same section, which is under 172, the Highway Traffic Act.

They’re also the same client that could have been charged with stunt driving. So you will see on the information, either stunt driving or racing, but again, it’s under the same section, section 172. Now the laws with respect to the two are, are just slightly different. And they’re different in this regard. That is, you know, when a vehicle, a vehicle, for example, could appear to be racing just by squealing its tires and racing down the accelerating down the road, the objective standard would be, well, that particular vehicle from your perspective or a police officer’s perspective appeared to be racing.

So they could have been racing by themselves and if they saw that and an officer chose, they could charge you with racing just by seeing that. Another example would be two vehicles lining up at a traffic light, for example, and accelerating hard leaving that traffic light. They appear to be racing, and the law is that you are not allowed to do that.

Now what’s important to note is that those two vehicles, hypothetically, that have lined up and have taken off aggressively from that particular green light, they may not have accelerated to the point where they’re doing 40 or 50 kilometers over the limit, meaning they could be under that 40 or 50 kilometer margin, but they are still racing and they would still be charged under section 172, racing.

Most of these cases that involve stunt driving also called racing, you will find that it’s, there’s an element of speed. That speed is either gonna be 40 kilometers over the limit or 50 kilometers over the limit, but that is not the test for a specific charge of racing. So what I am saying is if you appear to be racing, you could in fact be charged.

 

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