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Ontario’s MOMS Act Passes: Drivers Face Harsher Penalties for Dangerous Driving

June 8, 2021
5 mins
A man drives a convertible down a winding road on a sunny day

The Ontario Legislature passed the provincial government’s proposed Moving Ontarians More Safely (MOMS) Act, bringing into force harsher fines and penalties for motorists convicted of dangerous and aggressive driving.

On April 26, the government introduced the MOMS Act to combat high-risk driving and improve road safety as well as introduce reforms to the towing and storage industry. Of note to drivers, it includes expensive fines, and longer driver’s licence suspensions and vehicle impoundment periods for anyone who engages in excessive speeding, stunt driving, street racing, and aggressive driving.

The government’s timing is impeccable. Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis in March 2020, despite a drop in traffic volume in many parts of the province, excessive speeding and aggressive driving has been on the climb. And though there were fewer collisions, traffic-related fatalities in Ontario increased by 22%.

Moreover, data from the Ontario Court of Justice between April 2020 and March 2021, shows police in Ontario charged 752,935 drivers with speeding, 20,685 for careless driving, and 13,379 for street racing or stunt driving. In comparison, from January 2019 to December 2019, police charged 436,559 drivers for speeding, 9,675 for street racing or stunt driving, and 28,677 for careless driving.

In a statement, Kim Donaldson, Ontario Vice-President at the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC), says the Act will make roads and highways safer.

"IBC commends the government and members of the Ontario Legislature that helped pass this legislation in record time … dangerous driving has no place on our roads, as it puts innocent drivers and pedestrians at risk. We are pleased to see that this legislation will combat high-risk driving through stiffer fines and increased penalties for dangerous drivers who engage in stunt driving, street racing, and aggressive driving. The MOMS Act paves the way for safer roads.”

The legislation also requires tow operators, tow truck drivers, and vehicle storage operators to be certified, and it sets new standards for customer protection.

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What are the new penalties for street racing and stunt driving in Ontario?

Under the legislation, Section 172 of the Highway Traffic Act (HTA) establishes a series of escalating penalties for drivers who are involved in street racing and stunt driving.

Specifically, drivers who are caught travelling 50km/h or more above the posted speed limit or who engage in other high-risk driving behaviours are liable to receive an immediate seven-day driver’s licence suspension and seven-day vehicle impoundment at roadside, but because of the MOMS Act, it increases those periods to an immediate 30-day driver’s licence suspension and 14-day vehicle impoundment as of July 1.

In addition to these roadside measures, these drivers face a series of other severe post-conviction penalties that include:

  • A fine up to $10,000 (the highest fine for this offence in Canada)
  • A licence suspension of up to two years for the first conviction, and up to 10 years for a second conviction within 10 years
  • Six demerit points
  • A jail term of up to six months.

As of September 1, the post-conviction licence suspension will increase to:

  • Minimum one year and maximum three years suspension for a first conviction.
  • Minimum three years and maximum 10 years suspension for a second conviction.
  • For a third conviction your licence is suspended indefinitely with the possibility of having it reinstated at a later date.
  • For a fourth conviction within 10 years, your licence is suspended permanently.

Drivers can also be charged under Section 130 of the HTA with careless driving and, upon conviction, face up to a $2,000 fine, six demerit points, possible jail time and a driver's licence suspension. The province recently introduced a new offence for Careless Driving Causing Death or Bodily Harm, that may result in a fine of up to $50,000, imprisonment of up to two years, and a five-year licence suspension.

How serious driving convictions can affect your car insurance premium

If you’re convicted of a serious traffic infraction such as stunt driving or street racing, there’s no wiggling out of the consequences it will have on your car insurance premium.

Traffic convictions remain on your driving record for three years, meaning you can expect to pay up to 25% more for insurance with this type of conviction than someone with a clean driving record. That’s if you can still get it. If you’re classified as a high-risk driver by insurers, some providers may decline to cover you. The ones that will insure you will regard you as a higher-than-average risk, and the premiums you’re offered will reflect that.

Give that some thought before getting behind the wheel again. In addition to maintaining a clean driving record and keeping your insurance affordable, don’t put other people at risk of being seriously injured or killed from driving too fast or dangerously.

Liam Lahey

Liam Lahey is a versatile, seasoned writer and editor. He worked as both a staff writer and freelance writer for many business and technology publications as well as for several newspapers. He writes about home, auto, and travel insurance, and is a media spokesperson for RATESDOTCA.

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