We have been defending clients from Stunt-Driving/Racing charges since the creation of the most recent incarnation of the law in 2007. Just as a recap, the enabling provision is Section 172 of the Highway Traffic Act as defined by the Ontario Regulation (O Reg) 455/07 “Races, Contests and Stunts, O Reg 455/07”.
The purpose of this article is to discuss recent changes to the Stunt Driving / Racing laws in Ontario, as they pertain to speed-based offences.
Speed Based Racing / Stunt Offences
There are currently over 10 ways in which a person can commit a “stunt” and over 3 different ways in which a person can drive at a race or in a contest. This article is discussing only the ways in which a person may commit the offences of racing or stunt by virtue of speed alone (So we aren’t discussing here doing donuts, popping wheelies, or engaging in other defined conduct. However for a full description of conduct that falls into offences of this kind, you can see Sections 2 and 3 of the Regulation.
What Speed Is Considered a Stunt in the Province of Ontario?
The question “what speed is considered stunt driving in Ontario” has been complicated in recent years. It used to be only when you travelled 50km/h or more over the posted speed limit. So, for example:
- Going 90 in a 40 zone
- Going 150 in a 100 zone
- Going 130 in an 80 zone
But with the introduction of 110km/h speed limit zones in the province of Ontario, this led to a situation where the government did not want people driving up to 159km/h and it being treated as a minor speeding charge.
Similarly, there was a recent push to bring a lower threshold to speed zones where the speed limits are lower. This in a way, makes Ontario more similar to Quebec where there is a 60km/h threshold for “excessive speeding” in higher speed zones; a 50km/h threshold in medium zones, and a 40km/h threshold in lower speed zones.
These changes have resulted in the following definition of (speed-based) stunts in Ontario:
7. Driving a motor vehicle at a rate of speed that is 40 kilometres per hour or more over the speed limit, if the speed limit is less than 80 kilometres per hour.
7.0.1 Driving a motor vehicle at a rate of speed that is 50 kilometres per hour or more over the speed limit, if the speed limit is 80 kilometres per hour or more.
7.1 Driving a motor vehicle at a rate of speed that is 150 kilometres per hour or more.
Much More Severe Penalties
The fine for stunt driving has not changed however the suspension regime has changed from an optional (or discretionary) suspension to a mandatory suspension. The language changed from “the court may make an order suspending…” to “the court shall make an order suspending…”
The suspensions now mirror the suspensions for being found guilty of impaired driving with a 1 year suspension for a first offence; a 3 year suspension for a second offence; and a lifetime suspension (indefinite) for a third+ offence.
The roadside suspension has gone up from 7 days to 30 days (and this is automatic even before being found guilty of anything).
The Section as it Reads Now
Racing, stunts, etc., prohibited
172 (1) No person shall drive a motor vehicle on a highway in a race or contest, on a bet or wager or while performing a stunt. 2021, c. 26, Sched. 1, s. 15 (4).
(2) Every person who contravenes subsection (1) is guilty of an offence and on conviction is liable to a fine of not less than $2,000 and not more than $10,000 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than six months, or to both, and in addition, the court shall make an order suspending the person’s driver’s licence,
(a) on a first conviction under this section, for not less than one year and not more than three years;
(b) on a second conviction under this section, for not less than three years and not more than 10 years; or
(c) on a third or subsequent conviction under this section, indefinitely. 2021, c. 26, Sched. 1, s. 15 (4).
(3) An indefinite suspension imposed under clause (2) (c) that was not in relation to a fourth or subsequent conviction under this section may be reduced by the Registrar in the prescribed circumstances. 2021, c. 26, Sched. 1, s. 15 (4).
Determining subsequent conviction
(4) In determining whether a conviction is a subsequent conviction for the purposes of subsection (2), the only question to be considered is the sequence of convictions and no consideration shall be given to the sequence of commission of offences or whether any offence occurred before or after any conviction. 2021, c. 26, Sched. 1, s. 15 (4).
(5) A conviction that is more than 10 years after the previous conviction is deemed to be a first conviction for the purpose of subsection (2). 2021, c. 26, Sched. 1, s. 15 (4).
(6) Despite subsection (5), when the subsequent conviction is within 10 years after the previous conviction, all previous convictions that were not followed by a 10-year period without a conviction shall be taken into account for the purpose of subsection (2). 2021, c. 26, Sched. 1, s. 15 (4).