Does that driver next to you have a license?
Over 375,000 drivers are currently plying Ontario highways while unlicensed or under suspension according to the province's Ministry of Transportation.
A report by Synectics Transportation Consultants Inc. for MADD Canada says unlicensed and suspended drivers are involved in a significant portion of all fatal and injury crashes occurring in Ontario. The study shows these drivers are involved in 2,000 fatal and injury crashes annually. They are more than twice as likely to be in a fatal crash, and are one and a half times more likely to be at fault in a crash.
To get these drivers off the road the Ontario Government has responded with Bill 126, which has passed third reading in the Legislature. It includes a vehicle impoundment program targeting suspended and unlicensed drivers. Any person caught driving under suspension for a criminal code conviction will have his/her vehicle immediately towed to an impound yard for a minimum of 45 days.
Groups such as MADD Canada and Share the Road lobbied the government in support of the bill. Share the Road founder Eleanor McMahon's husband, OPP officer Greg Stobbart, was killed June 6, 2006 while on an off duty bicycle ride in Milton, Ontario by a driver who had 5 convictions for driving while under suspension. McMahon said she believes the new law will provide, “law enforcement with an important tool to keep suspended and unlicensed drivers off our roads, gives us a level of comfort that lives can be saved, and perhaps other families can be spared the kind of loss we suffered.”
However, not all Ontarians are enthusiastic about the track record of their government when it comes to making and enforcing the law. “In its zeal to be seen as both tough-minded and socially aware, the government of Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty has a habit of overstepping itself when introducing new measures on high-profile legal issues,” observes the National Post.
As well, many Ontarians are skeptical of government motives in light of its handling of native lawlessness at Caledonia. “It is also hard to miss the difference between the government's enthusiastic pursuit of high-profile penalties in instances likely to attract positive headlines, and its contrasting failure to provide any policing at all in more politically dangerous situations, such as the land dispute at Caledonia, where the government is being sued for allegedly refusing to provide even the most basic police protection to a couple caught behind the barriers of a native blockade.”
Another controversial McGuinty government act is the so called “Stunt Driving Law.” For a driver charged with this offense conviction is automatic, there is no possible defense, and sentences are harsh. It has been ruled unconstitutional by an Ontario Court judge, and two recent cases have been thrown out of court.