Ontario is introducing legislation that, if passed, would help keep the province’s roads among the safest in North America by reducing collisions, injuries and fatalities.
If passed, the proposed legislation and supporting amendments to the Highway Traffic Act will make highways and roads safer by:
- Increasing fines for distracted driving from its current range of $60 to $500 to a range of $300 to $1,000; assigning three demerit points upon conviction; and adding distracted driving to the existing list of novice driver conditions.
- Applying current alcohol impaired sanctions to drivers who are drug impaired.
- Introducing additional measures to address repeat offenders of alcohol impaired driving.
- Requiring drivers to wait until a pedestrian has completely crossed the road before proceeding at school crossings and pedestrian crossovers.
- Increasing fines and demerits for drivers who door cyclists, and requiring all drivers to maintain a distance of one metre when passing cyclists, where practicable.
- Helping municipalities collect unpaid fines by expanding licence plate denial for drivers who do not pay Provincial Offences Act fines.
The short title of this Act is the Transportation Statute Law Amendment Act (Making Ontario’s Roads Safer), 2014.
The Bill amends the Highway 407 East Act, 2012 as follows: to remove the requirement that the Registrar of Motor Vehicles give a person who has failed to pay a toll and related fees and interest a second notice that, at the next opportunity, a vehicle permit won’t be validated or issued to the person; to remove the requirement that the Minister of Transportation conduct an annual review, including public consultation, on the amount of the toll for the following year.
The Bill also amends the Highway Traffic Act in respect of various matters, as described below, and makes a consequential amendment to the Provincial Offences Act.
Impaired Driving — Alcohol
Amendments to section 41 of the Act provide that the suspension of a driver’s licence on conviction for various Criminal Code and other offences may be shortened or continued if the person participates or fails to participate in a conduct review program.
Subsection 41 (4.1), which provides for early reinstatement of a suspended driver’s licence if the driver participates in an ignition interlock program, and sections 41.1, 41.2 and 41.3 of the Act, which provide for assessments and remedial programs, including ignition interlock programs, are repealed. The current section 57 of the Act, which allows for the establishment of conduct review programs by regulation, is expanded to take their place. Consequential amendments are made to other sections to refer to the programs under section 57, instead of those under sections 41.1 and 41.2.
Current section 55.1 of the Act provides for the long-term impoundment (45 days, 90 days or 180 days) of a motor vehicle if the driver’s licence is suspended for various convictions under the Criminal Code. Section 55.1 is amended to provide for the same impoundment in the following additional circumstances: if the driver contravenes an ignition interlock condition imposed on his or her licence under a conduct review program for a prescribed reason; if the driver’s licence is suspended under a conduct review program for a prescribed reason.
Sections 48.1 and 48.2.1 of the Act are amended to require police officers to notify the Registrar of Motor Vehicles of any 24-hour administrative driver’s licence suspensions imposed on novice drivers and young drivers under those sections.
Sections 48, 48.1, 48.2.1 and 48.3 are amended to provide that for persons who hold out-of-province driver’s licences and who are found to be driving while impaired by alcohol, the privilege to drive in Ontario is suspended automatically, in the same way that the Ontario driver’s licences are suspended automatically under these sections, and not by the Registrar of Motor Vehicles. These sections are also amended so that the duties of a police officer are the same in each case; they now require the officer to notify the Registrar of the surrender of a person’s driver’s licence, as may be required by the Registrar, rather than as prescribed in the regulations, and to forward any other material or information to the Registrar as may be prescribed by the regulations.
Impaired Driving — Drugs or Drugs and Alcohol
Current sections 48 and 48.3 of the Act provide for administrative driver’s licence suspensions where a person is found to be driving a motor vehicle or operating a vessel with a blood alcohol concentration of over 50 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood or over 80 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood, or where a person fails or refuses to provide a sample, perform physical co-ordination tests or submit to an evaluation under section 254 of the Criminal Code. Under section 48 (the over .05 section), the licence is suspended for three days for a first suspension, seven days for a second suspension and 30 days for a third or subsequent suspension. Under section 48.3 (the over .08 and failure to complete tests section), the licence is suspended for 90 days.
Two new sections, sections 48.0.1 and 48.3.1, are added to the Act to mirror sections 48 and 48.3 where a person is driving a motor vehicle or operating a vessel while impaired by a drug or by a combination of a drug and alcohol. Under section 48.0.1, a person’s driver’s licence may be suspended for three, seven or 30 days where the person has performed physical co-ordination tests under the Criminal Code and performed or submitted to tests or examinations, if any, prescribed under the Highway Traffic Act and a police officer reasonably believes that the person’s ability to drive a motor vehicle or operate a vessel is impaired. Under section 48.3.1, a person’s driver’s licence may be suspended for 90 days where the person has submitted to an evaluation under the Criminal Code and performed or submitted to tests or examinations, if any, prescribed under the Highway Traffic Act and a police officer reasonably believes that the person’s ability to drive a motor vehicle or operate a vessel is impaired.
If, after a licence suspension is imposed under section 48.0.1, an evaluating officer (defined in the Criminal Code) conducts an evaluation of the person under section 254 of the Criminal Code, the suspension that was imposed under section 48.0.1 is continued or cancelled based on the evaluating officer’s determination as to whether the person is or was, when he or she was stopped by police, impaired by drugs or by a combination of drugs and alcohol.
Section 50.1 of the Act is amended to give persons whose licence is suspended for 90 days under new section 48.3.1 the same right of appeal to the Licence Appeal Tribunal that is currently provided for persons whose licence is suspended for 90 days under section 48.3: in both cases, the Tribunal may set aside the suspension for mistaken identity or medical reasons.
Section 62 of the Act is amended to permit bicycles to carry a flashing red lamp on their rear; this may be in addition to or instead of the red light or reflector on their rear that is currently required. Subsection 62 (18) of the Act, which imposes a $20 fine for contravening the requirements for lights and reflectors on bicycles, is repealed.
Section 144 of the Act is amended to allow for traffic control signals that are specific to bicyclists. In locations where there are both bicycle traffic control signals and regular traffic control signals, bicyclists will be required to obey the bicycle traffic control signals.
Subsection 144 (29) of the Act is amended to remove the prohibition against riding or operating a bicycle along a crosswalk.
Section 148 of the Act is amended to require the driver of a motor vehicle overtaking a bicycle to maintain a distance of at least one metre, as nearly as practicable, between the vehicle and bicycle.
Current section 153 of the Act provides that vehicles and street cars must be driven only in one direction on one-way streets. This is amended to allow for the designation of a bicycle lane on one-way streets that goes in the opposite direction. A consequential amendment is made to subsection 147 (2) of the Act.
Section 156 of the Act is amended to permit bicycles to be ridden or operated on the paved shoulder of a highway that is divided into two separate roadways.
Inconsistent terminology is currently used throughout the Act to describe bicycling: riding, riding on and operating are used in reference to bicycles (including power-assisted bicycles), and driving, in reference to a vehicle, also includes bicycling. A number of provisions are amended so that they consistently use “ride or operate” in reference to a bicycle or, where the bicycle in the provision does not include a power-assisted bicycle, “ride”. The usage of “drive” in reference to vehicles, which includes bicycles, is unchanged.
Sections 140 and 176 of the Act are amended to require drivers to remain stopped at a pedestrian crossover or school crossing until the person crossing the street and the school crossing guard are off the roadway. The current Act allows drivers to proceed once the person crossing and the school crossing guard are no longer on the driver’s half of the roadway.
Other amendments to section 140 of the Act consolidate the duties of drivers and pedestrians at pedestrian crossovers: drivers must stop before entering the crossover and not overtake another vehicle already stopped at the crossover; pedestrians (which includes persons in wheelchairs) must not enter a crossover and into the path of a vehicle or street car that is so close that the driver cannot stop.
In new subsection 140 (8), the Minister of Transportation is authorized to make regulations respecting pedestrian crossovers, including prescribing signs and markings.
The definition of “pedestrian crossover” in subsection 1 (1) of the Act is amended to remove the requirement that it be designated by a municipal by-law.
Sections 203 and 204 of the Act currently require doctors and optometrists to report to the Registrar of Motor Vehicles the name, address and clinical condition of every person 16 years old or older who, in the opinion of the doctor or optometrist, suffers from a condition that may make it dangerous for the person to drive.
Sections 203 and 204 are re-enacted. Rather than imposing obligations on doctors and optometrists, the re-enacted provisions apply to persons to be prescribed by regulation. The prescribed persons will be required to make a mandatory report if a person has or appears to have a prescribed medical condition, functional impairment or visual impairment. In addition, a prescribed person may make a discretionary report if a person has a medical condition, functional impairment or visual impairment that the prescribed person believes may make it dangerous for the person to drive.
Vehicle Inspection Centre System
Current sections 88 to 100 of the Act, which deal with motor vehicle inspection stations and related matters, are repealed. They are replaced with sections 100.2 to 100.8, which create a new vehicle inspection centre system. Section 100.1 allows the Minister of Transportation to make transition regulations to facilitate the implementation of the vehicle inspection centre system.
Under new section 100.2, the Minister may establish a program for the inspection of vehicles and the issuance of certificates and stickers and other types of proof of inspection and may appoint a Director of Vehicle Inspection Standards to administer the program. The Minister may enter into agreements with service providers to assist in operating the program. The Minister may also enter into agreements to authorize persons to operate vehicle inspection centres and to authorize service providers to enter into such agreements.
The Director of Vehicle Inspection Standards is given broad authority to issue directives governing certificates, inspection procedures and requirements and equipment and performance standards under section 100.7. It is a deemed term and condition of every agreement to operate a vehicle inspection centre to comply with all applicable directives.
Current subsections7 (10) to (12) of the Act address the refusal to validate or issue a permit where payment of a fine imposed on conviction of certain specified offences is in default. These subsections are re-enacted to provide that a refusal to validate a permit only applies in respect of one permit held by the convicted person at any given time. New subsection 7 (12.0.1) of the Act provides that if a person is in default of payment of a fine imposed for an offence described in subsection 46 (1) of the Act, no permit held by that person shall be validated and no permit shall be issued to that person until the fine is paid. New clause 7 (24) (n.1) of the Act authorizes regulations to be made that provide for exemptions from the application of subsection 7 (12.0.1). A consequential amendment is made to the Provincial Offences Act.
The penalties for contravening sections 78 and 78.1 of the Act, which prohibit display screens and hand-held devices, respectively, are increased to a fine of between $300 and $1,000.
Current section 85 of the Act requires that vehicles display a device affixed to them as evidence that the vehicle complies with inspection requirements and performance standards. Section 85 is amended to require vehicles to display an annual inspection sticker and a semi-annual inspection sticker (if it is prescribed), or other prescribed proof of inspection instead.
Section 165 of the Act prohibits unsafe practices respecting opening the door of a motor vehicle. Currently, the general penalty in section 214 of the Act, which imposes a fine of between $60 and $500, applies to contraventions of this section. The section is amended to provide that the penalty on conviction is a fine between $300 and $1,000.
Currently, subsection 109 (7.1) of the Act allows certain prescribed combinations of vehicles to have a maximum length of 25 metres. This is amended to allow a maximum length of 27.5 metres.
Current subsection 151 (5) of the Act prohibits driving on the paved shoulder of any part of the King’s Highway except in accordance with section 151 and a regulation made under it. This is amended to apply only to parts of the King’s Highway that are designated.
Clause 154 (1) (a) of the Act is re-enacted to provide that a vehicle not be driven from one lane to another lane or to the shoulder, or from the shoulder to a lane, unless the driver first ascertains that it can be done safely.
Current section 159 of the Act requires drivers to slow down and move into another lane when approaching a stopped emergency vehicle with its red or red and blue lights flashing. Section 159 is amended to require drivers to do the same for a tow truck stopped with its amber lights flashing.
Sections 160 and 178 of the Act, which prohibit persons from attaching themselves to and being towed by a vehicle or street car on a highway while riding or operating various devices (bicycles, toboggans, roller skates, etc.), are amended to include skateboards, in-line skates and any other type of conveyance.
Section 175 of the Act is amended to provide, in new subsection (3.1), that a bus that is painted chrome yellow must also have all the other markings of a school bus.
The amendments to clauses 175 (15) (i) and 205.25 (f) of the Act authorize the service of offence notices outside Ontario on vehicle owners for failing to stop for a school bus and in proceedings based on evidence obtained from a red light camera system.
Current section 191.8 of the Act authorizes municipalities to permit and regulate the operation of off-road vehicles with three or more wheels and low pressure bearing tires. The section is amended to remove the requirement that the vehicles have low pressure bearing tires.
Current section 199.1 of the Act deals with vehicles classified as irreparable, rebuilt and salvage. The section is amended as follows: the Registrar is required, rather than merely empowered, to classify a vehicle as irreparable or salvage where the vehicle is classified as the equivalent to irreparable or salvage by a jurisdiction specified in the regulations; the right to make a submission respecting a classification is limited to the person who held the vehicle portion of the permit at the time of the event that led to the vehicle’s classification and who continues to hold it; the Registrar may appoint a reviewer to consider the submissions; and the submissions must be accompanied by a fee required by the reviewer.
New section 210.1 of the Act permits documents obtained from other provinces, territories and states of the United States in respect of vehicle ownership and certified by an Ontario provincial offences officer to be admissible in evidence as proof of vehicle ownership in proceedings relating to the parking, standing or stopping of a vehicle, in proceedings against the owner of a vehicle for failing to stop for a school bus and in proceedings based on evidence obtained from a red light camera system.
Current section 211 of the Act requires that all suspended driver’s licences be returned immediately to the Registrar of Motor Vehicles. This is amended so that a licence need not be returned if it is suspended under a provision specified by regulation. Consequential amendments are made to sections 35 and 212.
Ensuring Ontario’s roads and highways are safe is part of the government’s economic plan for Ontario. The four part plan is building Ontario up by investing in people’s talents and skills, building new public infrastructure like roads and transit, creating a dynamic, supportive environment where business thrives, and building a secure savings plan so everyone can afford to retire.
- According to recent statistics, over 45 per cent of drivers killed in Ontario were found to have drugs or a combination of drugs and alcohol in their system.
- If current collision trends continue, fatalities from distracted driving may exceed those from drinking and driving by 2016.
- Pedestrians represent about one in six motor vehicle-related fatalities on Ontario roads — 41 per cent of which occurred at intersections.
- The proposed legislation would build on existing measures Ontario has introduced to improve road safety, including making booster seats mandatory, ensuring every person wears a seatbelt, introducing stiffer penalties for street racing, bringing in tougher impaired driving laws, and banning hand-held devices while driving.