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2019 Ontario Highway Traffic Act Changes In Fines

Like updates to the rules of the road, there are changes in fines that should make you think twice!

I’ve written before about some changes in the rules of the road and the fines that go with infractions resulting from people breaking them. Distracted driving, for example, has increased a lot, and so have the fines, demerit points, and license suspensions no matter where you are in Ontario.

The goal for law enforcement is to combine education with a fairly heavy stick, enough to discourage people from using their phones or other forms of distracted driving.

Whereas the fine before January 2019 was $490 and 3 demerit points removed for a first distracted driving charge, now it’s $1,000 and 3 demerit points. Is that enough to get people to put their phones down and pay attention to the road? Only time will tell.

Another change, in the aim of making it clear to drivers that they need to share the road with cyclists, was the increased fine for doorings—which is where a driver opens their door without checking for a cyclist and the cyclist hits it and goes over—from $60 to $365 and 3 demerit points.

Finally, with the legalization of cannabis consumption (and eventual transition to legal cannabis edibles) there were changes to the DUI laws, suspensions and fines, to reflect this. For example, new drivers with a G1 or G2 license cannot have ANY THC—the psychoactive compound in cannabis—in their system, whether or not they are impaired. This zero-tolerance policy comes with a license suspension and a fine, on the first offence.

If this all seems extreme to you, I can say that you should spend a day in my clients’ shoes, individuals who have sustained catastrophic injuries that will likely impact them for the rest of their lives. So often, these cases are the result of one of these three types of accidents.

There are other penalties that you might not be aware of…

The Ontario Courts website lists all the set fines for the Highway Traffic Act, but here are a few that stand out:

Not carrying a valid driver’s license — have you ever run out the door to get something at the corner store, or to pick up your kids from a class, and forgotten to bring your wallet? It can happen to the best of us, but it could land you with an $85 ticket for driving without having your license with you. You can fight it, but it might just be better to put a note on the back of your door, reminding you not to leave without it.

Driving without insurance — this one is important. The consequences for the victims of a serious accident when the at-fault party does not carry liability insurance can be difficult. And if you don’t have insurance, and you’re hurt in an accident, you could find yourself out of luck, to say nothing of being hit with a fine starting at $5,000 and going up to $25,000.

Speeding — speeding at any time isn’t a great idea, but even more so in a community safety zone. So while going 11 km/hr over the speed limit could land you with a fine of $2.50 / km over the limit (the fine set for speeds of 1 – 19 km/hr over the limit), doing so in a community safety zone will get you a fine of $5.00 / km over the limit.

These are indicated by signage, but you can bet that areas around schools, playgrounds, daycare, parks, hospitals and seniors residences will be considered for the designation.

No matter how you slice it, speeding doesn’t pay. And it doesn’t get you to your destination faster, but it does increase your chance of having an accident. So, don’t do it.

Driving in the carpool lane without the right number of passengers — and no, your dog doesn’t count. If you are using carpool, or High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes when you shouldn’t be, you’re looking at a $110 fine and 3 demerit points. It’s definitely not worth it.

Failing to stop at a red light, stop sign, or for a school bus with the red lights flashing — these may seem obvious, but people get caught with them time and again.

Failing to stop—and that includes doing a rolling stop—at a stop sign will land you with an $85 ticket.

Same with failing to stop at a red light. Although running a red can have far more serious consequences in a busy intersection where the opposing traffic isn’t expecting you to come shooting through at full speed.

When it comes to failing to stop for a school bus that has activated its red signals, the penalties are more, to reflect the severity of the consequences of an accident.

If it’s your first offence, you’re looking at $400, but that number can jump to as high as $2,000 if you’re a repeat offender. So, if you know there is a bus that follows the same route you do, either leave more time or find another route.

Failure to buckle up — this is another seemingly no brainer.

While 96% of Ontarians are following the rules, that still leaves a good half a million folks who don’t. But did you know that you are 36 times more likely to be killed in a collision, if you’re not wearing your seatbelt? If that doesn’t convince you, hopefully the $200 fine will.

If you’re driving with passengers under the age of 16 and they’re not properly buckled or in an appropriate car or booster seat, those fines can jump to $1000 and two demerit points.

I’m always amazed by the excuses people come up with for getting out of these fines; it shows a special level of hubris to think that you’ll never be caught.

But when it comes to safety related laws, like seatbelts and car seats for kids, it’s about more than money. It’s simply not worth the risk of harming yourself or others, by not following these simple and easy rules.

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