Highway Traffic Offences

The most serious automobile related offences are dealt with in the federal Criminal Code. These include impaired driving and other alcohol and drug related driving offences as well as criminal negligence and dangerous driving.

In recent years the provinces increasingly have exercised their jurisdiction to regulate highway traffic, often in parallel to criminal legislation. Thus, persons charged with most Criminal Code driving offences are subject to suspension of their driver’s licence and impounding of their vehicle. In the case of alcohol related offences some of these sanctions apply as of the date of the alleged offence, prior to a finding of guilt in court. For example, a person charged with impaired driving has their licence suspended for 90 days from the date of arrest and therefore often regains driving privileges before the criminal case gets to trial, only to lose the right to drive for a more extended period both under the federal and provincial laws.

Recently most provinces have enacted laws which sanction the right to drive much more severely in the case of certain alcohol related offences.

Another type of provincial traffic offences are those entailing demerit points. The treatment of speeding offences has become harsher with the introduction of provisions which double the fines and demerit points otherwise applicable when speed limits are exceeded beyond specified thresholds. These excessive speeding tickets also render the offender subject to immediate suspension of their driver’s licence and impounding of their vehicle. Needless to say these measures have given rise to an increase in driver’s licence suspensions and requests for restricted permits.

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