The OPP have been abusing the authority of the Highway Traffic Act (HTA) for many years, namely section 172 that deals with Stunt Driving and Racing. When that piece of legislation came out the OPP set out to set an example for all the municipal police services. The OPP's Commissioner at the time, Julian Fantino, drafted a memo via his media relations team and had it send out to the editors. In that memo the public can clearly see where the OPP manipulated section 172 of the HTA and added their own authority for laying charges of Stunt Driving and/or Racing to anyone caught operating their vehicle 50 km/hr or more over the posted speed limit. That initial action by the Commissioner is continued to this day.
The truth is that section 172 of the HTA provides no such authority for an officer to lay a charge of stunt driving or racing based solely on a person’s operation of their motor vehicle at 50 km/hr over the posted speed limit. The HTA actually stipulates that for anyone travelling in excess of 49 km/hr over the posted speed limit there is no out of court settlement (fine). Such a person has to be given a summons to attend court for speeding if the officer chooses to lay a charge for the full speed he witnessed. Many people have fallen victims of this manipulation of law and abuse of authority by the Ontario Provincial Police that have paved the way for many municipal police services to commit similar abuses of authority.The memo that started it all:
From: JUS-G-OPP-GHQ Duty Office (JUS)
Sent: November 26, 2009 5:32 PM
To: OPP DL ALL (JUS)
Subject: FW: Letter to Editors re Section 172 from Commissioner Julian Fantino
November 26, 2009
The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) is aware of recent court decisions regarding Section 172 of the Highway Traffic Act (HTA), commonly called the “Stunt Driving Law.” But it is so much more than stunt driving. The impact of those who regularly speed or drive recklessly reaches deep into our communities and into all of our lives. Allow me to explain. Section 172 subjects anyone who is stunt driving, road racing or driving 50 kilometres or more over the posted speed limit to a fine of between $2,000 and $10,000 and/or a six month sentence.
At the roadside, the officer administers an immediate seven-day suspension of the offender’s driver’s licence and his/her vehicle is towed and impounded for one week.
Aggressive driving and speeding accounted for 28 percent of fatal motor vehicle collisions investigated by the OPP in 2008. Enforcement of Section 172 has been an important part of the OPP’s Provincial Traffic Safety Program (PTSP) to make Ontario’s roads some of the safest in North America. Since the enactment of Section 172, OPP officers have laid over 11,000 charges.
The PTSP has been an unqualified success and has received international recognition. In October 2009, the International Association of Chiefs of Police recognized the effectiveness of the PTSP, bestowing two awards upon the OPP at its annual conference. The Program uses high police visibility, public education and focussed enforcement to reduce unnecessary injury and death on Ontario highways.
The success of the PTSP – measured in pure statistics – speaks for itself and cannot be refuted by any reasonable person. In 2008, there were 322 deaths on roads patrolled by the OPP compared to 453 in 2007. This represents a reduction of 29 percent or 131 lives saved. The downward trend in lives lost on Ontario highways is continuing in 2009.
Motor vehicle collisions are the leading cause of injury and death from age 3 to 33. It is impossible to calculate the emotional costs of needlessly losing a loved one to a preventable motor vehicle collision. But it is possible to calculate the economic costs and it is a useful exercise to do so.
A 2007 Transport Canada study, using 2004 data, estimated the total social costs – that’s things like traffic delays, health care, tow trucks, police, fire and emergency services, and lost productivity – to be $18 billion annually in Ontario at the time.
Using the fatality and injury costs calculated in the Transport Canada study, the encouraging Ontario statistics from 2008 represent a saving to the Ontario economy of $2.3 billion compared to 2007.
So much of this carnage and the associated financial costs and unintended consequences can be prevented but for the reckless actions of irresponsible drivers. Any police officer will tell you that one of the least anticipated duties of their working lives is to attend the homes of victims to tell family members that their loved one was killed or maimed in a totally preventable collision.
The OPP remains convinced that the presence of highly-visible, engaged traffic officers is one of the most effective methods of mitigating high-risk driving behaviour. Coupled with education and public support, effective law enforcement ultimately leads to a significant reduction in serious injuries and fatalities from collisions.
The OPP will continue to enforce the legislation made available to us to save lives, including the Section 172 legislation. That is what we are mandated to do by those who develop and implement legislation, and we make no apologies for carrying out those duties.
I appreciate the opportunity to clarify our role in this matter.
Julian FantinoDoes anyone wonder what the HTA actually states in section 172?Section 172 HTA, Revised Statues of Ontario 1990, Chapter H 8:
Racing, stunts, etc., prohibited
172. (1) 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.
2007, c. 13, s. 21.
(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 his or her driver’s licence may be suspended,
(a) on a first conviction under this section, for not more than two years; or
(b) on a subsequent conviction under this section, for not more than 10 years. 2007, c. 13, s. 21.
The above excerpt from the HTA can be verified by accessing the act via the Internet.The truth:
The truth is that, if the legislation intended to include the operation of a motor vehicle 50 km/hr or more over the posted speed limit then section 128 of the HTA would have to have been revised. The HTA already provided authority for the application of a charge of speeding for anyone caught driving 50 or more above the speed limit through the use of a summons under Part 3 of the Act which restricts a Justice of the Peace to apply a fine, subsequent to conviction of a minimum of $600 to a maximum of $2,500 and or six months in jail. However, the OPP, in laying so many charges of racing and/or stunt driving based solely on speed, served a larger purpose of bringing in the fear of speeding.
I am not supporting speeding rather I am against a Provincial Organization, that is supposed to be setting an example for its Municipal counterparts, manipulating the Highway Traffic Act to bring about immediate results. Though it might be true that speeding has dropped considerably (statistical results might be incorrect), one can wonder how such a (perceived) quick change was brought about? By manipulation of the law, that’s how!
My heart goes out to the many victims of the false charges of Stunt Driving and/or Racing based solely on the fact that they were operating their motor vehicle 50 km/hr over the posted limit. This speed infraction could easily be realized by one operating their motor vehicle on a country highway like Highway 7, for example and they enter one of those small towns that one can travel through at the blink of an eye so to speak. Where it is common for one to travel 10 to 20 km/hr over the posted limit many officers tend to turn a blind eye to such infractions and should such a motorist upon entering a small town fail to drop his speed immediately, for whatever reason, the driver can easily be stopped by the OPP who might have set up a radar trap in town. Such a motorist, if caught, is falsely charged with Stunt Driving and/or Racing and is further victimized with the impoundment of their vehicle. The OPP later walks away looking good because most motorists, rather than contesting these charges that lack clear authority usually plead guilty to the actual section that ought to have been used: Speeding contrary to section 128 of the Highway Traffic Act. Such people thereby nullify their chances of pursuing a civil action against the officer. And that is a shame because it allows the police to continue breaking the actual law they have been sworn to uphold. Since the job of the police is to uphold the law and not to manipulate it in any way, what the OPP has been actually doing is nothing short of a flagrant abuse of their authority!
Last edited by advocateforjust
on Fri Jan 23, 2015 5:31 am, edited 5 times in total.