Oshawa MPP asks Ford government to increase penalties for traffic violations that cause injury or death
QUEEN'S PARK — Jennifer French, Official Opposition critic for Transportation, Highways and Infrastructure and the MPP for Oshawa, has tabled Bill 15, a private member's bill to raise penalties for drivers who violate traffic laws under the Highway Traffic Act, and cause serious injury or death to another road user.
“Tragically, each year, too many Ontarians lose their lives in road accidents due to drivers violating rules of the road. Drivers making unsafe left turns, unsafe U-turns or following too closely behind another car can cause serious injury or death to others on the road, yet the penalty that results from violating road rules and then causing an accident is nowhere near strong enough,” French said. “Drivers of smaller vehicles, including motorcycles, are statistically at greater risk of serious injury or death in a road accident, and drivers who break the rules of the road should pay an appropriate penalty.”
French’s bill would increase the penalty for traffic violations so that they are in line with those that penalize careless drivers. Currently, a person convicted of violating the Highway Traffic Act receives a fine in the range of $100 to $1,000 no matter the extent of physical harm they cause another.
“The Wynne Liberals failed to increase penalties for traffic violations, instead raising penalties just for careless driving,” French said. “The Ford government continues to let penalties for traffic violations stagnate at insufficient rates, failing to heed calls from groups like the Ontario motorcycle community, which have been asking the Conservatives to raise penalties for traffic violations and create better protections and fairer outcomes for victims’ families.
The Bikers Rights Organization of Ontario (BRO) supports MPP French's bill, and stated: "Far too often people die as the result of another’s simple error in judgement, and that error has far-reaching consequences for others. The oversight for this situation can be corrected with this new private member’s bill to provide stiffer penalties for all Highway Traffic Act infractions that result in death or serious injury.”
“Victims of road accidents hurt or killed as a result of another driver’s traffic violations deserve better protection, and their families deserve fairer legal outcomes,” French said. “All Ontario drivers, including those using smaller vehicles like motorcycles, deserve a government that de-incentivizes breaking the rules, and creates a safer environment for everyone on the road.”
Bill 15 is our bill and it is on the floor. Time to push it.
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Bikers Rights Organization (Ontario) Inc.
PROPOSED AMENDMENTS TO THE HIGHWAY TRAFFIC ACT
There currently exists an injustice in Ontario. A driver stopped at a RIDE program and found to be over the limit, loses their license for an immediate 60 days, without a trial or conviction, and then upon a conviction, loses their license for a further year, pays a minimum of a $500 fine and after reinstatement of license must pay to have a breathalyzer device installed and maintained in their vehicle for a further year.
We now also have a new speeding infraction, renamed as “stunt driving” when the limit is exceeded by 50 km. this offence involves a $2000 fine and immediate confiscation of the vehicle for a week.
Use a false CVOR certificate and the penalty is $5000, a false drivers license is worth $50,000, and running a stop sign is now $1000.
Compare those penalties to a driver who makes an unsafe turn in front of a motorcycle and kills both riders. That driver will receive a $500 fine only.
The first person pays a comparatively large penalty because they have the potential to do harm, but a person who actually kills cannot receive anything more substantial than a $500 fine. This is wrong.
In July of 2002, William James Duff turned left in between three motorcycles on Highway 17 near Batchewana, Ontario. The resultant collision immediately claimed the lives of David and Wanda Harrison. Mr. Duff was convicted of unsafe turn and received the maximum penalty allowed under the Highway Traffic Act, that is, a $500 fine.
We feel this was unjust, but it was all that was permitted under law. There are some who believe the highway traffic act is just fine the way it is, including previous Ministers of Transportation. When viewed in the above light, however, this is obviously not the case.
Many of the charges under the HTA do not have a specific penalty applied. This is true for left turn charges among others. Instead, the HTA has section 214, which is referred to as general penalties. It is the catchall clause for the penalty for any charge under the act that does not already have a specific penalty applied.
THE PROPOSED SOLUTION: PASS BILL 15: An Act to amend the Highway Traffic Act to create an offence of contravention causing death or serious bodily harm
His Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Ontario, enacts as follows:
The Highway Traffic Act is amended by adding the following Part:
Part X.0.1 Contraventions Causing Death or Serious Bodily Harm
191.0.2 Every person who, while contravening this Act or the regulations, causes, or contributes to causing, an accident that causes the death of a person or serious bodily harm to a person is guilty of an offence and on conviction is liable to a fine of not less than $2,000 and not more than $50,000 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than two years, or to both, and in addition his or her driver’s license or permit may be suspended for a period of not more than five years.
WHERE WE ARE TODAY
Bill 15 had its second reading on November 22, 2023, and was recommended to committee hearings. Those hearing took place on July 12th, and now the committee must mull over the presentations. After consideration of the presentations, the committee will either recommend returning it parliament for voting, or recommend modifications to the wording before it goes back for a vote.
Here is the link to the transcript of the committee hearings:
Now is the time to contact your MPP and Minister Sarkaria requesting they support passage of this bill. This is the closest we have ever gotten for justice for victims in Ontario.
This link takes you to a contact list for all MPP's in Ontario:
We can win this for us all. Send an email using the link at the top of this page and call your MPP to follow up. If you would please forward any replies your MPP gives you, back to the undersigned, it would be greatly appreciated.
Bikers Rights Organization
Provincial Government Liaison
705 649 3316