Holiday season stunt driving charges increased in eastern Ontario in 2018

Click to play video: 'O.P.P. lay 37 stunt driving charges in 2019' O.P.P. lay 37 stunt driving charges in 2019
Ontario Provincial Police in the East Region charged 26 people with stunt driving over the 2018 holiday season – Jan 14, 2019

The number of stunt driving charges laid by police in the East Region during the holiday season increased this year, according to the OPP.

Traffic Sgt. John Martin is with the OPP’s Highway Safety Division based in Napanee, Ont. He covers an area that includes Quinte West, Napanee, Frontenac County, Prince Edward County, Centre Hastings and Bancroft.

Between Dec. 20, 2018 and Jan. 7, the number of stunt driving charges laid by OPP officers jumped dramatically compared to the same period in the previous year, said Martin.

“The charges for last year’s holiday season went from nine to 26 for this holiday season,” he added.

READ MORE: Peterborough County OPP lay stunt driving charges on Highway 115

Stunt driving can be applied to a number of traffic offences, but in these instances, the charge is used to describe driving more than 50 km/h over the posted speed limit.

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The majority of stunt driving incidents have occurred on Highway 401, according to OPP.

Over this holiday season, one driver was clocked at 202 km/h, police said.

Martin says motorists at that speed are putting lives at risk.

“You’re putting yourself and anyone travelling in your vehicle with you and other motorists on the highway in great danger,” he said.

READ MORE: 2 drivers charged with excessive speeding on Hwy. 401 in Northumberland County

In 2017, OPP laid 216 stunt driving charges, a number that increased slightly to 220 in 2018.

Two weeks into 2019, police have already charged 37 people with stunt driving.

Depending on the driver’s speed and driving history, the penalties for a conviction can be steep, according to Martin.

“A fine in the range of $2,000 to $10,000, there could be up to a 10-year licence suspension and there also could be up to six months in jail,” he added, noting that drivers could also receive six demerit points for two years.

A stunt driving charge is similar to an impaired driving charge, as there are some sanctions that are applied immediately at the road side.

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Martin says an automatic, seven-day license suspension is just the start: the vehicle of a person charged with stunt driving is also impounded for a week, and the driver has to pay the towing company the impound fees as well.

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