Street Racing and Your Insurance: What Happens After You’re Caught
Not only is street racing or stunt driving incredibly dangerous and reckless, if you’re convicted of the offence you will lose your licence, face a fine that is double the fine for drunk driving (even for the first time), and you may go to jail. You can imagine what the impact of a stunt driving conviction will be on your car insurance premium.
And yet, excessive speeding and stunt driving are on the rise in Ontario. The COVID-19 pandemic may have slowed the tourism season, but not some drivers who may be taking advantage of lighter traffic volumes to shift into warp speed.
In Ontario, convicted street racers face fines ranging from $2,000 to $10,000, a possible jail sentence of up to six months, six demerit points and lose your licence for up to two years (up to 10 years if you are a repeat offender). Punishments are similar across the country.
Your insurance premium will skyrocket. That’s because a street racing conviction is considered a severe offence, and it will stay on your record for three years. Most insurance companies will consider you a high-risk driver. They could refuse to provide you with coverage, and if they do, the increase to your premium will be thousands of dollars.
If a driver is convicted with street racing causing injury, that driver can face jail time of up to 14 years. If that street racing incident kills someone, the convicted driver could face life imprisonment. To curb the temptation some drivers may have to engage in street racing, the federal government changed the law to allow stricter punishments for street racing in 2006.
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What Is Street Racing or Stunt Driving?
Section 172(1) of the Ontario Highway Traffic Act outlines what constitutes street racing or stunt driving. In essence, the law defines stunt driving more than 50 km/h over the posted limit. But it also includes acts of road rage or other actions such as driving too close to another vehicle, not allowing another driver to pass in front of you or slamming on the brakes to make someone rear-end you. Stunt driving also includes doing doughnuts in a vehicle, driving a vehicle while not sitting in the driver’s seat, popping a wheelie (on a motorcycle or with a car, if possible), or driving with someone in the trunk of your car.
The law is similar in Alberta. According to section 115(e) of Alberta’s Traffic Safety Act, a driver of a vehicle is driving carelessly if that driver should “perform or engage in any stunt or other activity that is likely to distract, startle, or interfere with users of the highway”.
Where to Race Your Car Legally in Canada
There are racetracks across Canada that allow you to drive your car very fast. Here are three places where you can race legally:
- Toronto Motorsports Park/Cayuga Raceway. Located about an hour outside Toronto is one of the largest racetracks in Canada. It hosts sessions that allow drivers to take their vehicles for a spin at high speeds and operates many races for those who make the grade.
- Mission Raceway Park. About an hour outside of Vancouver, this track runs drag and road racing and features ‘street legal’ racing events for drivers who want to show off what their vehicle’s got under the hood.
- Castrol Raceway. Located about 20 minutes from downtown Edmonton, this racetrack has drag and road courses you can sign up for, and it hosts ‘bring your own streetcar’ events.
What a Stunt Driving or Street Racing Conviction Will Do to Your Insurance Rate
While car racing may be fun, your insurance company is unlikely to think so. Racing is excluded under your automobile policy. If your vehicle is damaged, or you or someone else is hurt as a result of racing, you may find yourself without coverage.
In addition to a higher car insurance premium, you may face fees to get your driver’s licence reinstated, legal fees (if you hire a lawyer to defend you in court), as well as towing and impoundment fees for your vehicle. All in all, it’s quite an expensive proposition.
If you have a need to speed, take a spin on one of the racetracks listed above. Public roads and highways are not racetracks. Always be a safe and courteous driver, stay calm when behind the wheel, and remain focused on driving and the road in front of you.