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article imageOntario's stunt racing law is unconstitutional, violates rights

By Stephanie Dearing     Sep 9, 2009 in Crime
Judge J.G. Griffin has ruled that Ontario's stunt driving law, intended to curb excessive speeding and deadly illegal stunt racing, is unconstitutional. The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) are allowed to hand out tickets under the new law.
The ruling revolves around a case that involves a 62 year old woman, Jane Raham, who was charged under the stunt racing law when she was attempting to pass a transport truck.
The law stipulates that anyone speeding 50 km per hour over posted speed limits can lose their car for seven days, or have their licence suspended for seven days, or pay a fine with a minimum set at $2,000 and a maximum of $10,000. The Oakville woman had earlier been found guilty on the charge of speeding, but appealed. The case was heard by Judge J.G. Griffin in the Napanee Ontario Court of Justice, who delivered his ruling on September 4th. The problem with the law, according to Griffin, is that people are automatically convicted of a criminal offence for excessive speeding. "The only issue is the possibility of imprisonment for up to six months for an ‘absolute liability'," which is an offence that, once proven by the facts, cannot be defended against." said Judge Griffin in his ruling.
The new law has only been in effect since 2007. Described as 'tough legislation,' the law was intended to save lives by allowing police to crack down on dangerous drivers. The law was welcomed by some while others saw it as a contravention of the Charter of Rights. Some people have characterized the law as a money-grabbing mechanism.
In his decision, the judge did not prevent police from handing out tickets based on the law, but if an appeal upholds Judge Griffin's decision, similar cases may not ever get a day in court in the future. The province is now seeking an appeal of Griffin's decision.
The law allows police to level fines of up to $10,000, take a person's car for seven days and suspend a driver's licence for seven days - with no right given to the person charged to appeal the decision. The key condition for the law to be applied is that a driver has to be found speeding at least 50 kilometers faster than the posted speed limit before the police can act on the legislation.
Lawyer and law professor, James C. Morton, said that the law violates section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
More about Jane raham, Judge griffin, Street racing law, Stunt racing law, Dangerous drivers
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