Written by Richard J. Aitken
Is there more to a stunt driving charge than just driving too fast?
Section 172 of the Highway Traffic Act in Ontario states that “No person shall drive a motor vehicle on a highway in a race or contest, while performing a stunt or on a bet or wager”.
The case we hear of so often is a person driving 50km or more over the speed limit. However there are many more actions caught by this section.
Not holding races, contests or betting on your driving is fairly easy to understand. I once bet a police officer that he could not make it out of the parking lot of the court house without committing a 6 point HTA offence and he took me up on it. As soon as he put his vehicle in motion I pointed out that he was driving on a wager and I got my free lunch. Any bet or wager or any race including nodding at someone at a stop light and having an informal race comes under this section.
However, the regulations to the HTA define a number of other circumstances you may not understand to also constitute a race or stunt. For racing, these include:
- chasing another motor vehicle;
- attempting to outdistance another vehicle by driving at a marked departure from the speed limit; and/or
- changing lanes to advance through traffic at a marked departure from the speed limit
*”marked departure from the lawful speed” means a rate of speed that may limit the ability of the driver of a motor vehicle to prudently adjust to changing circumstances on the highway.*
The only exceptions to the racing and wagering terms are if it is a rally or similar with prior authorization from the proper authorities, or a similar motoring event where all participants drive responsibly.
For a stunt, included actions are:
- attempting to life the tire of your vehicle off the ground;
- drifting or skidding around a corner;
- doing “donuts”;
- driving next to a car like you were passing but staying out in the other lane for too long;
- having a passenger in the trunk;
- driving from anywhere but the driver’s seat (even at a slow speed like when pushing);
- driving in a manner to prevent someone from passing;
- cutting a person off or slamming on the brakes while someone is tailgating you;
- tailgating; and/or
- making a left turn at a stop light; unless it is an advanced green, if there is someone stopped going the other way, regardless of how long they take to finally start moving.
The only exception to the stunt terms are for emergency or similar vehicles.