What is Stunt Driving in Ontario?
- Actions that may be considered to be Stunt Driving in Ontario include:
- Driving at a rate of speed that is 50km/hr over the speed limit, or more;
- Driving without due care and attention or without reasonable care for the safety of others on the road;
- Preventing another car from passing without reason;
- Stopping or slowing your car in a manner that interferes with the movement of the cars behind you (brake checking);
- Completing Donuts (circular motions with your car);
- Driving your car while not being seated in the driver’s seat;
- Driving with passengers in your trunk;
- Jumping a green light when turning left across the path of other vehicles.
What are the penalties for Stunt Driving in Ontario?
- Penalties for a first offence of Stunt Driving in Ontario include:
- A 7 day roadside Drivers’ License suspension and vehicle impoundment;
- A minimum fine of $2,000.00 up to $10,000.00 at the judge’s discretion;
- A Drivers’ License Suspension up to two years;
- Imprisonment up to six months;
- Six Demerit Points;
- A period of court imposed probation;
- Although not a court imposed penalty, a Stunt Driving conviction will make you essentially uninsurable in the regular market. Insurance premiums under the Facility Association will be many thousands of dollars per year for drivers with a Stunt Driving conviction, for a minimum duration of three years.
- Penalties for a second offence of Stunt Driving in Ontario include:
- All of the above, and the court may suspend the driver’s license for a period up to ten years;
- A second offence is a second Stunt Driving conviction that occurs within ten years of the first.
The legal definition of Race, Contest and Stunt Driving in Ontario:
Definition, “race” and “contest”:
2. (1) For the purposes of section 172 of the Act, “race” and “contest” include any activity where one or more persons engage in any of the following driving behaviours:
1. Driving two or more motor vehicles at a rate of speed that is a marked departure from the lawful rate of speed and in a manner that indicates the drivers of the motor vehicles are engaged in a competition.
2. Driving a motor vehicle in a manner that indicates an intention to chase another motor vehicle.
3. Driving a motor vehicle without due care and attention, without reasonable consideration for other persons using the highway or in a manner that may endanger any person by,
i. driving a motor vehicle at a rate of speed that is a marked departure from the lawful rate of speed,
ii. outdistancing or attempting to outdistance one or more other motor vehicles while driving at a rate of speed that is a marked departure from the lawful rate of speed, or
iii. repeatedly changing lanes in close proximity to other vehicles so as to advance through the ordinary flow of traffic while driving at a rate of speed that is a marked departure from the lawful rate of speed. O. Reg. 455/07, s. 2 (1).
(2) In this section,
“marked departure from the lawful rate of speed” means a rate of speed that may limit the ability of a driver of a motor vehicle to prudently adjust to changing circumstances on the highway. O. Reg. 455/07, s. 2 (2).
3. For the purposes of section 172 of the Act, “stunt” includes any activity where one or more persons engage in any of the following driving behaviours:
1. Driving a motor vehicle in a manner that indicates an intention to lift some or all of its tires from the surface of the highway, including driving a motorcycle with only one wheel in contact with the ground, but not including the use of lift axles on commercial motor vehicles.
2. Driving a motor vehicle in a manner that indicates an intention to cause some or all of its tires to lose traction with the surface of the highway while turning.
3. Driving a motor vehicle in a manner that indicates an intention to spin it or cause it to circle, without maintaining control over it.
4. Driving two or more motor vehicles side by side or in proximity to each other, where one of the motor vehicles occupies a lane of traffic or other portion of the highway intended for use by oncoming traffic for a period of time that is longer than is reasonably required to pass another motor vehicle.
5. Driving a motor vehicle with a person in the trunk of the motor vehicle.
6. Driving a motor vehicle while the driver is not sitting in the driver’s seat.
7. Driving a motor vehicle at a rate of speed that is 50 kilometres per hour or more over the speed limit.
8. Driving a motor vehicle without due care and attention, without reasonable consideration for other persons using the highway or in a manner that may endanger any person by,
i. driving a motor vehicle in a manner that indicates an intention to prevent another vehicle from passing,
ii. stopping or slowing down a motor vehicle in a manner that indicates the driver’s sole intention in stopping or slowing down is to interfere with the movement of another vehicle by cutting off its passage on the highway or to cause another vehicle to stop or slow down in circumstances where the other vehicle would not ordinarily do so,
iii. driving a motor vehicle in a manner that indicates an intention to drive, without justification, as close as possible to another vehicle, pedestrian or fixed object on or near the highway, or
iv. making a left turn where,
(A) the driver is stopped at an intersection controlled by a traffic control signal system in response to a circular red indication;
(B) at least one vehicle facing the opposite direction is similarly stopped in response to a circular red indication; and
(C) the driver executes the left turn immediately before or after the system shows only a circular green indication in both directions and in a manner that indicates an intention to complete or attempt to complete the left turn before the vehicle facing the opposite direction is able to proceed straight through the intersection in response to the circular green indication facing that vehicle. O. Reg. 455/07, s. 3.
4. (1) Despite section 2, “race” and “contest” do not include,
(a) a rally, navigational rally or similar event that is conducted,
(i) under the supervision of the Canadian Association of Rally Sport,
(ii) under the supervision of a club or association approved in writing by the Ministry, or
(iii) with the written approval of the road authority or road authorities having jurisdiction over the highway or highways used;
(b) motor vehicle owners engaged in a tour, scenic drive, treasure hunt or other similar motoring event in which the participants drive responsibly and in a manner that indicates an overall intention to comply with the provisions of the Act; or
(c) an event held on a closed course with the written approval of the road authority having jurisdiction over the highway, including any event lawfully using any of the trademarks “CART”, “Formula One”, “Indy”, “IndyCar”, “IRL” or “NASCAR”. O. Reg. 455/07, s. 4 (1).
(2) Despite sections 2 and 3, “race”, “contest” and “stunt” do not include any activity required for the lawful operation of motor vehicles described in subsections 62 (15.1) or 128 (13) of the Act, or the lawful operation of an emergency vehicle as defined in subsection 144 (1) of the Act. O. Reg. 455/07, s. 4 (2).
Ontario Stunt Driving Defences and Classification:
Stunt Driving is a Strict Liability Offence in accordance with the Supreme Court of Canada’s classification of regulatory offences in R. v. Sault Ste. Marie. Accordingly, the defences of Due Diligence and Reasonable Mistake of Fact are available to those accused with Stunt Driving / Racing in Ontario.
Ontario Stunt Driving CommentaryIf you are reading this, you may have been charged under Ontario’s dubious Stunt Driving or Racing law and suffered the indignity of having your drivers’ license and motor vehicle seized at the side of the road – well before being found guilty of anything in a court of law. The Constitutionality of Ontario’s Stunt Driving / Racing law was considered by the Ontario Court of Appeal but notably, the road side suspension and vehicle impoundment provisions were not considered in the analysis.
We hear unending stories of people and their children hundreds of miles from home being left to fend for themselves in a remote Tim Horton’s donut shop. Or being left by the police to negotiate transport with an unknown tow truck driver of questionable ilk to the nearest bus station.
Stunt Driving in Ontario is an offence created by the Ontario Highway Traffic Act. It is a quasi-criminal offence that is caught by the protections afforded by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Section 7 of the Charter protects, among other things, the ‘security of the person’ of Canadian citizens. That is, the right protects against significant government-inflicted harm or stress to the mental state of the individual.
Being stranded by your government in the midst of nowhere certainly meets that test, in our view. Nonetheless, the Ontario Court of Appeal specifically excluded suspension and seizure provisions of the Stunt Driving / Racing law from their analysis in R. v. Raham. Indeed, at paragraph 11 of the decision the court indicates “The respondent was required to surrender her license at the scene and her vehicle was impounded. The validity of these sanctions is not in issue in this case.”