I was surprised (and pleased) to read that Calgary police charged a guy with stunting for yelling "fhritp" at a reporter from his truck. What exactly is stunting? And could somebody be charged with stunting for the same thing here? – Karl, Toronto
Yelling curses from your vehicle might show stunted maturity – but in Ontario it doesn't count as stunting.
"It wouldn't apply to that type of situation – I can't think of anything under the Highway Traffic Act that would," says OPP Sgt. Kerry Schmidt. "Stunt driving is very specific – it's street racing, going 50 km/h over the limit, pulling a wheelie … any type of stunt."
Calgary police fined a man $402 for stunting after he was was recorded yelling the obscenity – also known by its only slightly family-friendlier acronym – while he was a passenger in a truck. He was charged under section 115 e of Alberta's Traffic Safety Act for engaging in an "activity that is likely to distract, startle or interfere with users of the highway."
Alberta's law is part of a larger section on careless driving. It also includes that province's distracted driving laws.
Ontario's law, section 172 of the Highway Traffic Act, focuses on street racing, driving contests and stunts.
If you're caught being fast and furious on Ontario roads, the penalties are swift and serious – your licence can be suspended and your car seized on the spot, for seven days.
If convicted, you could face a licence suspension of up to two years for the first offence, fines ranging from $2,000 to $10,000, up to six months in jail and six demerits.
Regulation 455-07 defines stunting. Here are a few examples:
- Going 50 km/h or more over the speed limit
- Intentionally lifting one or more tires off the road
- Driving with somebody in the trunk
- Intentionally cutting off another car or blocking it from passing
- Jumping a green light to make a left turn – turning left as soon as, or before, the light turns green, even though there are oncoming cars waiting to go straight through.
In 2009, a Napanee, Ont., judge ruled that the law was unconstitutional after a 62-year-old grandmother of four was charged with going 131 km/h in an 80 km/h zone. In 2010, Ontario's Court of Appeal overturned that decision.
Ontario's Ministry of Transportation says that as of April, 20, 2015, there have been 38,867 seven-day licence suspensions under the stunt racing law since it was introduced in 2007.
So, if you're driving around Toronto, see a TV reporter and decide to holler a curse – you could still be charged – just not under traffic rules.
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