Due to the pandemic, there have been fewer vehicles on streets and highways across the province. Some drivers are taking advantage of the situation by using the open roads for the opportunity to engage in dangerous driving behaviours. According to Ontario Provincial Police, hundreds of drivers have been charged between the months of March and June with the offence of stunt driving in the GTA.
In Toronto, police have issued 443 racing and/or stunt driving tickets since the start of the pandemic in Ontario up until the end of June, which is a 357% increase compared to the same time period in 2019.
York Regional Police began “Project Dragnet” in July to crack down on organized street racing. This operation resulted in 13 arrests, 20 stunt driving charges and 116 offences related to illegal car equipment.
In Peel Region, there has been a 26% increase in stunt driving charges between the months of March and August compared to the same time period last year.
Although Durham Region Police have noted that most driving violations have decreased since the start of the pandemic in Ontario, stunt driving has escalated. Typically Durham Police issue only 10 stunt driving tickets a month, however, between April and May, Durham Police have been issuing up to 23 stunt driving tickets a month.
Last month a traffic officer from Durham Region Police Service charged three drivers with stunt driving:
- A 24-year-old was travelling 132 km/h in an 80 km/h traffic zone;
- A 40-year-old was travelling 140 km/h in an 80 km/h traffic zone; and
- A 19-year-old was travelling 116 km/h in a 60 km/h traffic zone.
WHAT IS STUNT DRIVING?
Stunt driving and racing are very serious offences and with them come very serious consequences, if you are convicted.
Stunt driving is an offence found under section 172 of the Ontario Highway Traffic Act:
No person shall drive a motor vehicle on a highway in a race or contest, while performing a stunt or on a bet or wager.
Stunt driving can include the following acts:
- Driving a motor vehicle 50 km/h or more over the posted speed limit;
- Driving a vehicle with an intention to lift some or all of the tires from the surface of the road;
- Driving a motor vehicle with the intention to cause one or more of the tires to lose traction with the surface of the road;
- Driving a vehicle with the intention of preventing another vehicle from passing you;
- Driving a vehicle with the intention to spine the vehicle without maintaining control of it;
- Driving a motor vehicle while there is a person in the trunk;
- Driving a motor vehicle while not sitting in the driver’s seat (i.e. a passenger momentarily taking control of the steering wheel for the driver);
- Driving without due care and consideration of others on the road, in a manner that might endanger someone by preventing them from passing, stopping or cutting someone off or slowing down.
THE CONSEQUENCES ASSOCIATED WITH STUNT DRIVING
Despite stunt driving being classified as a traffic offence opposed to a criminal offence, it is a various serious charge and it carries some significant penalties. These include a minimum $2,000 fine and the potential for a driver’s license suspension.
If you are charged with stunt driving, and even if you are not convicted of the offence, you are subject to an immediate 7 day administration roadside suspension of your driver’s license. Also, your vehicle will be seized and impounded for 7 days, regardless of who owns the vehicle. In order to get the vehicle back, you will be responsible for paying towing charges and storage fees for the 7 days.
If you are found guilty of the offence of stunt driving or racing, there is a fine of not less than $2,000 and no more than $10,000, or imprisonment for no more than six months, or both.
Anyone found guilty of stunt driving or racing can be subjected to a license suspension of up to two years on a first conviction, and up to 10 years for any subsequent convictions. Following the end of your driver’s license suspension, you must pay $281.00 to the Ministry of Transportation to reinstate your license.
Being charged with stunt driving also means that you will receive 6 demerit points.
Stunt driving will stay on your record for a total of three years from the conviction date (the date you are found guilty in court). However, the court can look at your driving record for the past ten years for this type of traffic charge.
An individual’s employment can be affected by a conviction of stunt driving. If an individual requires a vehicle their employment eligibility can be at risk.
Stunt driving or racing, as with other offences under the Highway Traffic Act, are strict liability offences. This means that the Crown prosecutor only needs to prove that the accused offender committed the prohibited act, not the intention behind the act. The accused offender must prove that he/she was driving with due diligence at the time of the offence.
If you have been charged with a 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.