Stunt driving can be characterized in several ways. It can involve acts such as car surfing, popping wheelies on a motorcycle, driving while not in the driver’s seat and many others. Commonly though, it refers to speeding 50km/h over the posted limit and driving with excessive speed, which is a frequent charge.
The most practical way to fight a stunt driving charge is to hire a traffic court paralegal. With their experience, a defence built on the potential for probable cause and the related evidence can be used to fight the charges.
There are serious penalties for stunt driving. You could receive a fine for up to $10,000, 14-day vehicle impoundment and 30-day license suspension, as well as the possibility of imprisonment upon conviction. Very high insurance rates can also result.
The costs for hiring a paralegal to defend you in court involves a combination of court fees and a flat fee. Aitken Robertson aims to make the costs affordable.
The legal concepts of “Race,” “Contest” and “Stunts” under the HTA are defined in its regulations, which include where two or more motor vehicles are driven at a speed that is at a marked departure from the lawful rate of speed and in a manner of engaging in a competition. It also includes chasing another vehicle, driving without due care and attention or consideration for other people using the highway. Another example is 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. This rate of speed was recently lowered on highways that have a posted speed limit of 80 km/h or lower to 40 km over the limit. On highways with a speed limit above 80 km/h, the “stunt line” remains at 50 km over the limit. Stunt charges due to excessive speed are by far the most common, and the most problematic before the court.
“Stunt” is uniquely defined under the regulation. Apart from the common understanding of stunt, believe it or not, it also includes the following driving behaviours:
- driving a motor vehicle with a person in the trunk of the motor vehicle;
- driving a motor vehicle while the driver is not sitting in the driver’s seat;
- driving a motor vehicle at a rate of speed that is 50 kilometres per hour or more over the speed limit (again, the most common charge);
- 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:
- driving a motor vehicle in a manner that indicates an intention to prevent another vehicle from passing,
- 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,
- 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
- making a left turn where,
- the driver is stopped at an intersection controlled by a traffic control signal system in response to a circular red indication;
- at least one vehicle facing the opposite direction is similarly stopped in response to a circular red indication; and
- 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.
The offences under this category are very serious as they carry roadside punishments, and which have also been recently amended and increased. These offences now come with a 30-day administrative suspension of your driver’s licence and a 14-day vehicle impoundment, both to be imposed on site and neither can be appealed. For a detailed explanation of administrative suspensions, please refer to the section “Administrative Driver’s Licence Suspension (ADLS).” For a detailed explanation about vehicle impoundments, please refer to “Vehicle Impoundment.”
If pulled over for stunt driving, you will be charged and receive a ticket, more accurately a summons, which requires you to appear in court to make an answer to the charge, a guilty plea or a defence at trial, or many other possibilities to resolve the matter. If you are found guilty, it is then up to the court to impose further penalties. As of November 28 of 2021, along with a minimum $2,000 fine, the court is mandated by law to impose a one year licence suspension if convicted of stunt driving. That is a hefty penalty, but it goes up from there. If convicted a second time, the court will impose a three-year suspension, and if a third, an indefinite suspension. (It could last your entire life!)
For the most extreme offences, the Highway Traffic Act states that the convicted person can be imprisoned up to six months.
Penalties* for Stunt Driving
* A subsequent conviction is based on convictions and not commission of the offence. The time limit is 10 year period.
* In construction zones or community safety zones, the minimum fines will be doubled.
|Type of Penalty||Penalties*|
|Administrative Suspension (Roadside)||30 days|
|Mandatory Suspension (as of November 28, 2021)||First conviction: 1 year |
A subsequent conviction: 3 years
Other subsequent conviction: Indefinite
|Administrative Impoundment (Roadside)||14 days|
|Fine||Between $2,000 and $10,000|
|Imprisonment||Not more than 6 months|
Following a conviction of stunt driving 7 demerit points will be applied where there is no licence suspension imposed on conviction (for detailed information about how the demerit point system works, please refer to “Demerit Points.”) Again, the court will now have to impose mandatory minimum suspensions. A justice of the peace has the discretion to impose penalties below the statutory minimums, but that discretion is used very differently from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, and it is yet to be seen if they will initially be exercising this at all. The conviction will be kept on your driving record indefinitely. Insurance premiums will be increased for several years and you might even be dropped by your insurance provider. For information about how traffic tickets impact insurance, please refer to the section “Insurance Premiums.”
It is always recommended to consider fighting the charge. The Crown still has a duty to prove it, and the police have a duty to conduct the investigation in a way that observes your constitutional rights.
If the evidence the police provide to the Crown is shaky or incomplete, the Crown may be agreeable to allow an accused person to plead guilty to a lesser and included offence, like simple speeding. This is still an admission of guilt and gives up the right to a trial, but depending on the evidence quality, may be an acceptable solution to avoid the heavy stunt penalties and avoid the risk of a trial. It is important to have a legal professional peruse the evidence and explain it to you before making a decision on a guilty plea or proceeding to trial.
Call us at Aitken Robertson to explore all your options.