Fighting Stunt Driving
Stunt Driving is one of the more serious offences in the Highway Traffic Act, and is also one of the most frequently used. The charge is commonly issued when a driver exceeds the speed limit by a substantial amount, but there are a number of other reasons that this law can be applied. The offence can be referred to as “stunt driving”, “racing” or “excessive speeding”. The penalties are extremely significant, but if the case is handled properly, there is a lot that can be done to mitigate them.
What is Stunt Driving?
It is always important to look at the actual law. Section 172 (1) of the Highway Traffic Act, RSO 1990, c H.8 states: “A person is guilty of this offence when one is driving a motor vehicle while in a race, contest, or while performing a stunt on a bet or wager.” Naturally, the question then shifts to how exactly does the law intend the terms “race”, “contest” or “stunt” to be interpreted? Fortunately, there is a regulation where is laid out in detail.
What is the definition of Stunt Driving?
We suggest reviewing Ontario Regulation 455/07 where the terms “race”, “contest” and “stunt” are defined. Based on our experience, and these definitions, here are a few of the most common reasons that someone would be charged with this offence:
- Two or more vehicles are street racing or competing.
- The driver of one vehicle is chasing another vehicle.
- Attempting to quickly pull away from another vehicle.
- Repeatedly changing lanes to aggressively advance through traffic.
- Intentionally lifting a tire (or tires) from the road. e.g. A “wheelie” on a motorcycle.
- Intentionally causing tires to lose traction. e.g. A “burnout” or “squealing” tires as a light turns green.
- Intentionally causing a vehicle to spin. e.g. Fishtailing or drifting.
- Driving a motor vehicle with someone in the trunk.
- Driving a motor vehicle at a speed at is 40 kilometers per hour or more over the speed limit in a 70 kmph zone or lower.
- Driving a motor vehicle at a speed at is 50 kilometers per hour or more over the speed limit in a 80 kmph zone or higher.
- Trying to block someone from passing or re-entering the lane after a pass.
- Slowing down or stopping with the sole intention of interfering with another vehicle. e.g. “Brake checking” or aggressively cutting someone off.
- Driving as close as possible to another vehicle without reason. e.g. Tailgating.
- Turning left as a light changes from red to green at an intersection before oncoming vehicles who were waiting at the light are able to pass.
What is the penalty for Stunt Driving?
The penalty for Stunt Driving is as follows:
- Minimum Fine: $2000.00 + surcharge of 25%
- Maximum Fine: $10,000.00 + surcharge of 25%
- Demerit Points: 6
- An automatic 14-day vehicle impoundment and roadside 30-day licence suspension
- A court-ordered license suspension:
- For a first offence, a minimum of one to three years
- For a second offence, a minimum of three to ten years
- For a third offence, a lifetime suspension that may be reduced at a later date
- For a fourth offence, a lifetime suspension
- A jail sentence of up to 6 months
- Classified as a “serious” offence by most insurance companies
Will Stunt Driving affect my insurance rates?
Absolutely. Stunt Driving is considered as a “serious” offence by insurance companies. This generally means you will be classified as “high risk”. If you are convicted of Stunt Driving, your insurance will be affected for 3 years or more. Even a single conviction of Stunt Driving can cause your insurance rates to double, triple, or trigger a complete cancellation of your policy.
How can I fight a Stunt Driving ticket?
As with any charge you are accused of, the first thing to investigate is whether there are any avenues to have the ticket dismissed or withdrawn entirely. Only in situations where there is no reasonable option to eliminate the charge should you even consider a negotiated reduction instead. Given the severity of this offence, even a large reduction can still mean you are left with a serious conviction on your record.
As explained above, the charge has a variety of different reasons why it can be issued. The officer and prosecutor will need to decide which of the various criteria they wish to attempt to prove at court. In some cases, the prosecutor may not be able to do this. It is critical that you understand whether your particular case is “winnable” at trial and what your odds of success are. With so much on the line, you would not want to find out after the trial is over that your case was not as strong as you thought or that you missed a crucial argument that would have made a difference. It would be too late. This is why contacting Ticket Shield will ensure that you understand your options and the potential risks.
Similarly, if you end up deciding that a negotiated reduction (plea deal) is a better option for you, it is critical that you understand what you are agreeing to. Depending on the reason behind the charge, a number of different reductions may be possible. We have handled thousands of similar cases and can provide you with the experience and insight required to know if you are really getting the “best” the prosecutor is willing to offer.
What is a defence to Stunt Driving?
It depends on the reason you were charged, but if it was speed related, there are often avenues to consider which involve the method the officer used to determine your speed, whether their speed measuring equipment was properly tested and calibrated, and whether there are any external factors or “margin for error” issues with the reading.
If you were charged for being involved in an actual race, the prosecutor will need to prove this. Were other drivers also charged? Were there any admissions that you were racing? How exactly did they conclude that it was a street race or competition?
Perhaps you were you charged for causing your tires to lose traction or “drifting” around a corner. The prosecutor will need to convince the Judge or Justice of the Peace that there was some degree of intent. This can be very difficult to do when the standard of proof is “beyond a reasonable doubt”.
Ticket Shield has dealt with thousands of similar cases and would be pleased to offer you our insight and experience to properly defend against this serious charge. We take great pride in the fantastic results we frequently see with these cases.
Is Stunt Driving a criminal offence?
No. Stunt Driving is not a criminal offence since it is issued under the Highway Traffic Act, not the Criminal Code of Canada. This means that you will not be given a criminal record even if you are found guilty of the charge. That said, the penalties are still very significant and can involve a jail sentence, licence suspension or dramatically increased insurance rates. It can have serious implications for employment and your future.
Did the officer charge me with the wrong offence?
Many of our clients are confused about why their summons notice says they have been charged with “stunt driving” or “racing” when they were not performing any “stunts” or “racing” another vehicle. As explained above, in this particular application of the law, the definitions of these words is broad and they have multiple meanings. Even when you are charged due to speed, the summons notice will often state you were “performing a stunt” or “racing”. This is normal.
How do I get my licence back?
Stunt Driving includes an automatic 14-day licence suspension that begins immediately at roadside. To get your licence back, you will need to go to a Service Ontario (MTO) office once the suspension is over and pay a $281.00 reinstatement fee. They will issue a temporary licence and a replacement plastic licence will be mailed to you.
How do I get my vehicle out of impound?
Stunt Driving includes an automatic 14-day vehicle impoundment. To get your vehicle back, you will need to go to the impound lot once the 14 days are over and pay the required towing and impound fees. The cost of these fees fluctuates greatly depending on the tow company and can be quite unpredictable. If you feel like these fees are unreasonably high or exploitative, feel free to contact us for our thoughts on what your options are.
Unfortunately, there is no way to get around the vehicle impound, even if it is someone else’s vehicle or a rental. The one exception to this is if the vehicle has been proven to be stolen.
How will Ticket Shield help you fight your Stunt Driving charge?
Ticket Shield is able to defend you against Stunt Driving or Racing charges anywhere in Ontario. With most cases, the charge has been issued because the driver of a motor vehicle is found to be driving at a speed greater than 50 km per hour above the posted speed limit. We always aim to eliminate the charge entirely, but if that is not possible, we can normally negotiate a favorable outcome and avoid most of the very serious penalties. We understand that your insurance rates could double or triple, which will cost you thousands of dollars. This is something we hope to help you avoid.
Ticket Shield begins preparing your customized defence strategy as soon as we are hired. If you would like more detail about the process of hiring us, please check out our “How It Works” page. We know that you will be impressed with what we are able to do for you.
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