As of 12:01 Sunday, police can take your car and suspend your licence if you're caught going 50 kp/h over the limit
Sep 28, 2007 02:35 PM
Ontario's new street-racing law goes into effect on Saturday at midnight and OPP Sgt. Cam Woolley predicts "shock and awe" over the tough new provincial legislation.
If a driver is caught going 50 kilometres over the speed limit, police have the power to impound the vehicle for seven days, issue a minimum $2,000 fine and suspend your driver's licence for seven days.
And there is no right of appeal in the case of a suspension or impoundment, police say.
Safety officials are upbeat about the new law.
"This is going to be a good day for safety," Brian Patterson, president of the Ontario Safety League, said.
What a difference a day will make for many.
On Saturday, before the legislation kicks in, if you are caught going 160 km/h in a 100 zone, you would receive a summons to appear in court and be on your way.
A few hours later, when the legislation becomes law, that same offence will get your car impounded immediately "and you better get your bus pass out," according to Patterson.
Woolley said police have been looking for "an immediate consequence" for some time.
The way it is now, there are many court delays as well as plea bargains to get fines reduced and police felt somewhat handcuffed to mete out swift punishment and cut the carnage on the roads.
"With this law, you will lose your car up front," Woolley said. "That will have a tremendous effect."
The new law will be sweeping in breadth and is designed to catch everyone, not just teenage street racers, according to OPP superintendent Bill Grodzinski.
He expects to see penalties handed out to everyone from teenage drivers to "your 50-year-old businessmen in suits driving really expensive vehicles, sometimes with their families in them."
"This legislation is a pretty powerful tool," he said.
Patterson with the Safety League agrees.
"There are going to be some hot-rock racers upset and there will also be some upset BMW owners."
This new law, ushered in after several street-racing incidents led to crashes that killed innocent people this past summer, is the toughest piece of highway legislation in the country, according to Grodzinski.
"It came about because of the extraordinary carnage on our highways this past summer," he said.
Julian Fantino, commissioner of the OPP, points out that the new law applies to unsafe lane changes, tailgating and not driving to suit the conditions, such as going over the speed limit in a snowstorm and risking lives.
Infractions also include any kind of "stunt" driving, such as popping wheelies or doing "doughnuts" by spinning your vehicles.
Also falling under the law will be motorists who cut off another vehicle.
Motorists who have no intention of street racing could still be snared in the same trap if they aren't paying attention to their speed as they come off the highway.
"If a motorist is coming off the 400-series highway at 100 kilometres an hour and hits an 80-zone and then goes through a small town with a 50-zone, they will be 50 over the limit and will get their car impounded," Woolley said.
Affected will be everyone from couriers making deliveries to people racing to get to the drycleaners before it closes.
The upcoming Thanksgiving Day weekend will be a key barometer on how the new law will work, Woolley said.
The safety league's Patterson said he expects at least 300 vehicles to be impounded on that holiday weekend alone ó based on previous statistics.
Police are warning people not to rush too fast to get to Thanksgiving Dinner.
"If somebody is rushing up to Thunder Bay and they get their car impounded going through Powassan, we'll take their car and they may not get a bus to Thunder Bay until Tuesday," Woolley said.
Cars will be impounded no matter if it's your vehicle or your employer's vehicle, police say.
Woolley said that impound lots are being cleared to make room for an upswing in business.
He said that last year, about 2,500 motorists were charged after being caught going 50 kilometres over the speed limit and the numbers are close to 5,000 when the other infractions covered under this law are factored in.
"We're serious about this law and we consider this fair warning," Woolley said.
Based on police accident reports, excessive speed contributes to more than 25 per cent of fatal crashes and close to 20 per cent of crashes with serious injuries, Fantino said.