Police say an empty road is no excuse to speed
Are you tempted to put the pedal to the metal on one of Niagara’s now empty highways?
Niagara Regional Police are telling drivers to think again.
Stunt driving charges — officers lay them when they catch a driver travelling more than 50 km/h over the speed limit — climbed in Niagara last month, compared to March last year, Sgt. Josh Klopp said.
He mentioned three notable stops, including two on one day.
The first was a driver travelling at 150 km/h on Niagara Stone Road in Niagara-on-the-Lake. The second stop that day was for a driver going 130 km/h on Fifth Street South in St. Catharines.
Just two days after that, another officer charged a motorist for going 104 km/h on Effingham Street near Pelham Road in St. Catharines.
The Highway Traffic Act covers stunt driving and, while it isn’t a criminal offence, the price is steep.
If convicted, the minimum first-time fine for stunt driving is $2,000. That fine can go up to $10,000. A driver could also end up with six months in jail and a two-year license suspension.
Your licence is also taken away roadside for seven days, and $180 to get it back from the Ministry of Transportation.
The car is impounded for seven days (even if it is your mom’s) with towing charges and impound fees.
Klopp said despite the high-profile stunt driving charges, overall, there have been fewer traffic tickets handed out compared to the same period last March.
Some of that may be the result of fewer drivers on the road. Klopp said traffic safety officers are still out conducting speed enforcement.
Const. Phil Gavin said all sworn officers are expected to pitch in with traffic enforcement.
“Traffic safety is always important to us,” Gavin said. “That never changes. At the same time, we have had to balance all the needs of the community concerning COVID-19. That may be playing a role as well.”
Klopp had a warning for drivers — an empty roadway is no excuse to disobey traffic laws.
“Excessive speeds pose a greater risk to the safety of all occupants in the vehicle and the public around them. Any violators will continue to be issued fines along with roadside suspensions, and we will seize the vehicle if warranted.”