Racing, stunts, etc., prohibited - Section 172 of the Highway Traffic Act


Section 172 of the Highway Traffic Act, RSO 1990, c H.8 contains provisions for the offences of Racing and Stunting, as well as the penalties and administrative duties required in enforcing the offences.

The wording of the offence follows:

"172 (1) No person shall drive a motor vehicle on a highway in a race or contest, on a bet or wager or while performing a stunt. 2021, c. 26, Sched. 1, s. 15 (4).


(2) Every person who contravenes subsection (1) is guilty of an offence and on conviction is liable to a fine of not less than $2,000 and not more than $10,000 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than six months, or to both, and in addition, the court shall make an order suspending the person’s driver’s licence"

The definition of racing and stunting are a bit more vague on the surface, and can be confusing for some, in fact, many people have committed these offences without even knowing they're committing them. Simply exceeding 50 km/h over the speed limit is enough to charge someone under this section. However, there are also other things that are also classified as stunt driving, including not allowing someone to pass, cutting someone off, or driving in such a way that you wouldn't have reasonable time to respond to a situation.

One can find the regulatory definition of what constitutes racing and stunting in Races, Contests and Stunts, O Reg 455/07.


In addition to the penalties involved in subsection (2), there are further penalties. Subsection (8) states:

(8) If a police officer believes on reasonable and probable grounds that a person is driving, or has driven, a motor vehicle on a highway in contravention of subsection (1), the officer shall,
(a)  request that the person surrender their driver’s licence; and
(b)  detain the motor vehicle that was being driven by the person until it is impounded under clause (10) (b). 2021, c. 26, Sched. 1, s. 15 (4).

The penalties above are further defined in subsections 9 and 10.

In accordance with subsection (9), the driver will lose their licence for a period of 30 days:

(9) Upon a request being made under clause (8) (a), the person to whom the request is made shall forthwith surrender their driver’s licence to the police officer and, whether or not the person is unable or fails to surrender the licence to the police officer, the driver’s licence is suspended for a period of 30 days from the day the request is made. 2021, c. 26, Sched. 1, s. 15 (4).

In accordance with subsection (10), the vehicle will be impounded for 14 days:

(10) Upon a motor vehicle being detained under clause (8) (b), the motor vehicle shall, at the cost of and risk to its owner,
(a)  be removed to an impound facility as directed by a police officer; and
(b)  be impounded for 14 days from the day it was detained under clause (8) (b). 2021, c. 26, Sched. 1, s. 15 (4).

As section 172 is a strict liability offence, the defendant may provide a due diligence defence that they must prove on the balance of probabilities.

A racing or stunt driving charge is a very serious charge. Accordingly, there are very stiff penalties with these charges.

When we defend you in a section 172 charge, it is imperative that we fight every angle. A conviction under section 172 brings 6 demerit points, and a large increase in your insurance premiums.

Legality and oppression are not unknown to run hand in hand.
Hawkins, J., Roberts v. Jones; Willey v. Great Northern Railway Co. (1891), L. R. 2 Q. B. [1891], p. 203.