Driving Offences

Ontario to Introduce Increased Penalties for Driving Offences

Written on behalf of Affleck & Barrison LLP

Following a spike in speeding, stunt driving and other traffic violations, Ontario recently introduced enacting the Moving Ontarians More Safely Act. This newly proposed legislation suggests increasing vehicle impoundment times and lengthening licence suspensions.

According to Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney, the new legislation, referred to as the MOMS Act, should be very clear to all drivers:

…driving is a privilege and those that threaten the safety of others have no place on our roads.

 Kinga Surma, Associate Minister of Transportation (GTA), stated:

The MOMS Act targets the worst actors on our roads by creating escalating suspensions for repeat offenders and setting a lower speed threshold for stunt driving charges on municipal roads. With this Act, we are taking concrete action to protect people and families on our roads.

 STREET RACING, STUNT DRIVING, AGGRESSIVE AND UNSAFE DRIVING

As we have previously blogged, stunt driving offences in Ontario have been increasing since 2015 and were especially high in 2020 as fewer motorists on the roads during the pandemic motivated more drivers to escalate their speeds.

Between March 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020, Toronto Police laid 796 stunt driving charges, which is an increase of 222% during the same period in the previous year.

Drivers aged between 16 and 25 years represented 42% of the drivers involved in collisions with a speed of more than 50 km/h over the posted limit between March and June of 2020.

According to the Solicitor General, Sylvia Jones:

Stunt driving and street racing are serious threats that have posed a greater risk to our communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. The increased penalties and sanctions proposed under the MOMS Act … will ensure police services across the province have the tools they need to combat high-risk driving on Ontario’s roads.

 The MOMS Act increases the roadside driver’s licence suspension and vehicle impoundment periods for drivers found street racing or stunt driving from seven days to a 30 day driver’s licence suspension and a 14 day vehicle impoundment.

For repeat street racing or stunt driving offenders, they will face escalating driver’s licence suspensions as follows:

  • A minimum of one to three year licence suspension for a first offence;
  • A minimum of three to ten years licence suspension for a second offence;
  • A lifetime driver’s suspension that may be reduced at a later date for a third offence; and
  • A lifetime driver’s licence suspension for a fourth offence.

The new legislation will also create a lower speed threshold for stunt driving charges. Drivers who are caught driving 40 km/h or more above the speed limit on roads with a posted speed limit of less than 80 km/h will be subjected to the new penalties.

Mayor John Tory stated in support of the MOMS Act:

Speeding and stunt driving have been longstanding issues in Toronto that have put the lives to pedestrians, cyclists and other drivers at risk. This new proposed legislation by the government will ensure we are holding those who partake in this illegal and dangerous activity accountable and are working together to keep our streets safe for everyone. I hope that the passing of the MOMS Act will be a needed wake-up call for drivers to follow the rules and to be aware of their actions on the road. We all have a role to play in protecting each other on our roads.

IMPROVEMENTS TO THE TOWING INDUSTRY

The MOMS Act also introduces a new piece of legislation entitled Towing and Storage Safety and Enforcement Act, which promises improvements to the towing industry to combat criminal activity and fraud. Currently, there is a patchwork system in place that regulates the towing industry that varies by municipality. This new legislation will create standards and requirements for the industry across Ontario.

The proposed legislation will require tow operators, tow truck drivers and vehicle storage operators to be certified. It will also set new standards for customer protection and roadside behaviours, including penalties for non-compliance.

Tow truck operators will be prohibited from stopping within 200 metres of motor vehicle accidents unless they are specially asked by individuals involved in the collision or a police officer to attend the scene.

If the new law is passed, it will require that towing and vehicle storage services obtain consent before providing services, it will provide requirements for estimates and invoices and rules regarding amounts for towing or vehicle storage services, and it will outline penalties for coercion and misrepresentation.

We will continue to report in this blog any developments in the legislation regarding dangerous driving and the new rules for the towing industry.

If you have been charged with a street racing or stunt driving charge or any other driving related offence, please contact the knowledgeable criminal defence lawyers at Affleck & Barrison LLP online or at 905-404-1947. Our skilled criminal defence lawyers have significant experience defending a wide range of criminal charges and protecting our client’s rights. We offer a free consultation and are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Trust our experienced criminal lawyers to handle your defence with diligence, strategy and expertise.