To: Ontario Government
Petition to Revise Ontario Street Racing Legislation
The purpose of this petition is to demonstrate to the Ontario Government the opinion of Ontario citizens who feel that penalties in the recently implemented "street racing" legislation are unacceptable and must be changed.
Most notably, we feel that the 7-day car seizure and licence suspension penalty levied roadside by a Police Officer, with no recourse for the accused regardless of the Judge's court ruling is unacceptable as it violates our Charter Right to Due Process.
11. Any person charged with an offence has the right
d) to be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to law in a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal;
It is that simple. We have the right to our day in court. We are presumed innocent until proven guilty, and therefore, upfront penalties implemented with no recourse for the accused violates that right.
The penalties are described in the HTA section 172, but the legislation is more popularly know as "street racing" legislation, or "Bill 203" (the bill in which the legislation was proposed).
Police to require surrender of licence, detention of vehicle
(5) Where a police officer believes on reasonable and probable grounds that a person is driving, or has driven, a motor vehicle on a highway in contravention of subsection (1), the officer shall,
(a) request that the person surrender his or her driver’s licence; and
(b) detain the motor vehicle that was being driven by the person until it is impounded under clause (7) (b). 2007, c. 13, s. 21.
Administrative seven-day vehicle impoundment
(7) Upon a motor vehicle being detained under clause (5) (b), the motor vehicle shall, at the cost of and risk to its owner,
(a) be removed to an impound facility as directed by a police officer; and
(b) be impounded for seven days from the time it was detained under clause (5) (b). 2007, c. 13, s. 21.
Elected officials have changed Highway Traffic Act laws and have effectively minimized our Civil Rights. Although the intent is for the greater good of all citizens, this law punishes people at the side of the road without having been found guilty of an offence in a court of law. This is a trend that must be stopped.
The driving behavior described for penalty in HTA 172 are not Criminal Code of Canada (CCC) offences, they are alleged Provincial Highway Traffic Act infractions. Under CCC allegations (with the exception of alcohol driving related offences where the licence automatically suspended for 90 days) the courts decide the punishment for the accused after a conviction has been registered. Under HTA 172, your car is impounded and your licence suspended for 7 days. No court, no trial, no judge. No due process in any way for an alleged Highway Traffic Act infraction!
Essentially, the citizens of this Province have more rights when being accused of a criminal offence versus a far less severe Highway Traffic Act infraction. This is unacceptable.
The 7-day vehicle seizure and licence suspension has been positioned by our elected officials in a variety of descriptions as this law was initially implemented as a means to stop "street racing", but continues to punish thousands of citizens who were not convicted of behaving in this manner.
The initial justification of the seizure and suspension was deemed a "safety" concern. However, now with over 7 months passed since the law has been enforced, and the nearly 5000 charged, the seizure and suspension is now justified as a "deterrence".
Further, when someone charged under this offence is found not guilty, they have already had their licence suspended and vehicle impounded. They will have had a record of suspension registered with the Ministry of Transportation. Loss of transportation, towing and impound fees, court costs, and higher insurance rates. All this, and yet they have been convicted of nothing!
Laws are in place to deter bad and illegal behavior. Rights are in place to insure that no citizen is wrongly penalized. This is not happening with this new "street racing" legislation. The 7-day seizure and licence suspension levied at the roadside by a Police Officer under HTA 172, previous to being found guilty of any offence, clearly crosses the line of ‘good intentions’.
HTA 172 needs to be revised to remove this upfront penalty and restore the Civil Right to Due Process to the citizens of the Province of Ontario. The current law is unacceptable and should be of great concern to all citizens of this Province and this Country.