Many drivers still have questions about the Demerit Point System in place in Ontario. So far, this series has taken a look at the application and categorization of demerit points. This fourth installment will hopefully magnify the topic of SPEED in regards to demerit points, charges and convictions.
In this installment, we will be looking specifically at speeding infractions and the controversial legislation that has been surrounding the charge of street racing and stunt driving in Ontario since 2007. Demerit points play a key role in the penalties of these charges however there are also much more immediate and serious consequences for excessive speeding in the province of Ontario. A more general overview of demerit point penalties was provided in our previous segments in this series. For more information on the demerit point system in Ontario click here.
Excessive speeding and street racing has been taking place ever since the creation of the automobile. The faster cars became, the faster their drivers wanted to go. Thrill-seekers, risk takers and even soccer moms running late seem to contribute heavily to the growing instance of speeding charges. Increasingly, the commercialization of speed and racing in particular has glorified a practice that has proven to be one of the most lethal causes of automobile/pedestrian deaths.
Currently, there are a few Ontario legislations cracking down on speeding, street racing, and stunt driving that have proven to be controversial and issues regarding legality, based on constitutional rights of Canadians, have been debated in the past years. Before we get into that, here is an overview of the potential penalties for these offenses.
Demerit Point Breakdown for Speeding
- 3 points for exceeding the speed limit by 16 to 29 km/h
- 4 points for exceeding the speed limit by 30 to 49 km/h
- 6 points for exceeding the speed limit by 50 km/h or more
Exceeding the speed limit by 50 km/h is also the point at which a charge of STREET RACING and/or STUNT DRIVING may be applied at the police officers discretion.
What it Means if You Are Charged with Street Racing or Stunt Driving
- On the spot, police shall issue a 7-day suspension of your driver’s license as well as have your car impounded for 7 days.
- Following a conviction, you will be required to pay a fine of anywhere from $2,000 to a maximum of $10,000 (making it the highest penalty in Canada)
- 6 demerit points
- Potential sentence of up 6 months in jail
- Once convicted, your driver’s license could be suspended for up to 2 years
- If convicted a second time within 10 years of the first conviction, the courts can also impose a driver’s license suspension of up to 10 YEARS
So, Where’s the Controversy?
Although the issues have since been resolved by the Ontario Court of Appeal, the controversy previously surrounding these laws was mixed up in semantics and issues of constitutional rights. The working definition of stunt driving/street racing in Ontario is not limited to but includes driving a motor vehicle exceeding the speed limit by 50km/h or more. Although attaining such a ticket is not a guaranteed charge of stunt driving/street racing, Ontario police officers have the right to use their discretion as to whether or not to charge someone with the more serious offenses, regardless of intent to speed and/or race.
A stunt driving charge also includes a fine and aforementioned demerit points, as does the speeding charge. However, being accused of stunt driving results in the potential for incarceration making a stunt driving conviction a much more serious outcome than speeding. The ways in which stunt driving has been interpreted previously, meant that once the evidence had been presented (the speed that the car was going), it seemingly could not be defended. Under to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, citizens have the right to defend themselves and as such it was argued that these legislations effectively stripped these rights from those that had been charged. These legislations condemned the accused as being guilty before they could be proven innocent. However, supporters of the legislations argued that this law itself does not require proof as to whether or not there is any criminal intent when speeding.
The Good News
No one can deny that speeding is a recognizably risky habit and when taken to extremes (50 km/hr or more over the speed limit) can mean added demerit points, fines, loss of motor vehicle, suspension of driver’s license, and possible jail time but also increases traffic accidents and road fatalities. With that said, it is extremely important to attempt to fight such speeding charges. Review the cases of Jane Raham and Alexandra Drutz to see how A GOOD DEFENSE CAN MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE.
Demerit points may be the tip of the iceberg in these cases but they are still an important factor in keeping your driving record as clean as can be and to avoid having to surrender your license. Once grossing 15+ demerit points you will lose your license. It will be suspended and have to be surrendered. This will be the topic for our next post, the fifth in this demerit point series.
Sound Off – Make sure to leave a reply on any or all of these queries.
Do you think that the demerit points for speeding is reasonable? Should it be fewer? Should they be increased?
Do you think that intent to speed needs to be considered as a factor in these laws? Or is speeding, speeding and doing so regardless of intent should be a direct conviction?
Have you ever been charged with a speeding offense? How has having a good defense affected the outcome? Were the demerit points lessened or possibly removed altogether?
To view the different bills and legislatures associated with speeding, street racing, and/or stunt driving in full, please visit these links that we have compiled for you:
Highway Traffic Act
ONTARIO REGULATION 455/07
RACES, CONTESTS AND STUNTS
Legislative Assembly of Ontario
Bill 122 2006
An Act to enhance safety on Ontario’s roads and to empower police officers to shut down street racing
Bill 203 – Safer Roads for a Safer Ontario Act
This legislation targets both street racers as well as drinking drivers