Is stunt driving a criminal offence? Not quite on the “criminal” part, but it’s still an offence. Are you or any of your friends and family guilty of it? That’s the real question.
Ontario brought in stunt driving rules several years ago that were meant to address reckless driving habits and other actions that endanger others on the road. Even though the law has been in place for many years, a lot of drivers still aren’t sure what it is, what actions fall under it, and what potential penalties could be.
Actions that count as stunt driving
Ontario’s stunt driving law is extensive, and many actions you can take behind the wheel count as stunt driving. They span racing to chasing to burnouts, and everything in between.
Here are other examples of what counts as stunt driving:
- Driving 50 kilometers or more over the speed limit.
- Squealing your tires from a stopped position (intentionally making the vehicle lose traction).
- Operating a vehicle from a position other than the driver’s seat.
- Doughnuts, drifting, and wheelies.
- Not allowing somebody to pass.
- Driving with somebody in the trunk.
- Driving in a way that you wouldn’t have reasonable time to respond to changing road conditions or circumstances.
- Driving side by side with another vehicle for an extended period.
- Cutting off another vehicle.
Is stunt driving a criminal offence? Not usually (with a big caveat)
Although stunt driving is a serious offence, it’s not considered a criminal offence (by contrast, dangerous and impaired driving are both offences under the Criminal Code of Canada).
Instead, stunt driving falls under the purview of the Ontario Highway Traffic Act. Nonetheless, the penalties for stunt driving can be severe, and you can still be arrested for it.
Exploring the penalties for stunt driving
Although stunt driving doesn’t carry the kinds of criminal charges that come with impaired or dangerous driving, there are still serious consequences.
The first is a minimum fine of $2,000 and an immediate (roadside) seven-day suspension of your driver’s license. As such, your vehicle will also be seized and impounded for a week.
A conviction could cause you to lose your license for up to two years. In the case of a second offence, you could face jail time and a license suspension for up to 10 years.
Additional costs associated with a conviction
Along with the fine you’ll have to pay, there are other fees and costs you’ll incur because of a stunt driving conviction, including:
- Increased insurance rates.
- Being labelled a high-risk driver.
- Fees to reinstate your license.
- Towing and storage fees for your car.
- Legal fees.
Stunt driving may not be a criminal offence, but it’s still a serious charge that can result in big fines and suspended licenses. Many actions can be counted as stunt driving, including common bad habits that some drivers practice regularly.
But along with losing your license and having to pay a hefty fine, a stunt driving conviction can also cost you a great deal in other fees and insurance rates, so it’s best to know what actions are prohibited and to drive safely when you’re on the road.