From Legal Action website
March 28th. 2008, 12:00pm
Ontario’s controversial new street racing law, put into effect late last year, has nabbed over 120 drivers over the course of the Easter weekend, according to the Toronto Star. The new law punishes drivers traveling 50 km over the marked speed limit with an immediate suspension of their license for 7 days along with the seizure of their vehicle and fines reaching over $2000.
The aggressive campaign, originally intended to deter dangerous street racing on Ontario’s roads, has proven to be quite lucrative since its inception last fall, netting over 10 million in fines in its first month. While its intention was to halt street racing, many of the charged individuals don’t exactly fit the typical profile.In January the Toronto Star reported that police had charged an 85 year-old motorist who was going 161 km/h on Highway 407, 61 km over the limit, north of Toronto.
The man, who was apparently speeding to get to the bank, had lost his vehicle and license for a week and is facing a fine for at least $2000, police say. Even though there were no other vehicles involved in the incident, the man is still being charged under the harsh new measures meant to curb street racing and aggressive driving.
This latest incident tops the campaign’s ‘shock and awe’ intensions, which has charged over 2,300 drivers in its first three months. While this man is the oldest individual to face the new charges, there have been two 75 year-olds busted in separate incidents. While the average age (and typical profile) for street racers and aggressive drivers are men between 20 and 30, the vigorous crackdown is catching drivers of all ages, the youngest being a 16 year old girl.
Ont Government Press release
The Ontario, Canada Attorney General reports that the province has seized or frozen $15.1 million in assets, including cars accused of street racing.
After the announcement made earlier this month that motorists accused of speeding alone could be charged with street racing, the provincial authority recently released a report celebrating the pecuniary success of its property seizure program. To stress, since 2003, Ontario has taken CAD $15.1 million in property and cash from the accused. The money did not necessarily come from those convicted of crimes.
Last year, in a couple of cases, police seized cash from motorists after police stopped and searched vehicles during a traffic stop. Merely carrying a large amount of cash is sufficient evidence of a crime, allowing police to keep the money, Canada.com reported. The Ontario Provincial Police pocketed $99,000 from a stop near Kirkland Lake and $120,130 in cash from a stop near Marathon.
The Ontario Attorney General's report also celebrated the crushing of cars on June 16, 2006 by York Regional Police. The drivers of the vehicles were accused of street racing because performance modifications were made. Brakes Canada as well as other auto parts must comply with the requirements of the Canadian law.
"Police say both cars were substantially modified for the purpose of racing with features added to the engine and exhaust to increase power, the vehicles' road clearance lowered to increase speed and the backseats and interior panels removed to reduce the cars' weight," the report stated.
Additional grounds for seizure have been added to the Canadian law. Recent legislative modifications "allow civil courts to impound and order the forfeiture, as instruments of unlawful activity, vehicles used or likely to be used by people who have two or more previous license suspensions related to drinking and driving offenses," the report explained.
Separately, Ontario earlier started its street racing penalties to motorists who are not racing anybody.
Premier Dalton McGuinty said that being caught driving 50km/h or 31 mph over the speed limit will automatically trigger "street racing" penalties. This will be imposed despite the fact that the accused motorist is driving alone on an otherwise empty road. According to McGuinty, the change in definition will, in effect, turn ordinary speeding into an offense that can carry a $10,000 or US $9305 fine and up to six months in jail. As such, the traffic ticket made it as one of the most costly traffic tickets in North America.
"If you choose to break the law, we consider you a threat to our public safety and you're going to face stiff penalties," McGuinty said in a statement.
McGuinty cited in June the importance of fighting the "organized crime" of street racing as he urged passage of the Safer Roads for a Safer Ontario Act which is responsible for the $10,000 penalty. The change in definition also means that the word of a police officer is enough to confiscate a car and driver's license for at least seven days.
"There is no appeal from, or right to be heard before, a vehicle detention, driver's license suspension or vehicle impoundment under [the street racing] subsection," the Safer Roads Act states.
Also, McGuinty also announced a proposal to hire 55 new traffic police officers as well as the upcoming acquisition of a high-tech surveillance airplane in an effort to rack up several of the expensive new fines.