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Ontario introducing stiff penalties to combat auto theft

Photo: The Ontario Legislature at Queen’s Park. Via Flickr/used under a creative commons licence.

(Via Province of Ontario)

The Ontario government is cracking down on auto theft by introducing legislation that, if passed, would suspend driver’s licences for people convicted of the crime. With auto thefts and carjackings on the rise across the province, the legislation would help deter potential thieves and make it more challenging for criminals to re-offend.

“Car theft is a cowardly and often violent crime that can traumatize victims and communities who experience it,” said Prabmeet Sarkaria, Minister of Transportation. “Under the leadership of Premier Ford, our government is sending a clear message to those who commit these crimes and using every tool in our toolbox to keep them off our streets.”

Under the proposed legislation, thieves convicted of motor vehicle theft under the Criminal Code would face a 10-year licence suspension for a first offence, a 15-year licence suspension for a second offence and a lifetime licence suspension for a third offence. Licence suspensions would apply to convictions where the court found that aggravating factors were involved in the commission of the offence, such as violence, use of a weapon, use of force, threat, or pursuit of financial gain.

“Under the leadership of Premier Ford, our government is taking bold action to stop what is a serious and often violent crime,” said Solicitor General Michael Kerzner. “Criminals who want to steal a car in Ontario need to know there will be severe consequences for doing so.”

In addition to stiff penalties for auto theft, the province is also proposing to strengthen penalties for stunt driving. The proposed legislation would ensure that anyone convicted of stunt driving receives a minimum mandatory licence suspension – one year for a first conviction, three years for a second conviction and a lifetime suspension, reducible to 10 years under certain criteria, for a third conviction

Quick Facts

  • Every 14 minutes, a vehicle is stolen in Ontario, with Toronto experiencing a 78 per cent increase in violent carjackings since 2021.
  • The federal mandatory minimum prison sentence for a third auto theft offence is six months.
  • In 2023, over 12,000 immediate roadside licence suspensions were issued for street racing and/or stunt driving – the highest number since the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The Ontario government is investing $18 million over three years to help police services combat and prevent auto theft.
  • Together with the federal government, Ontario has invested more than $250 million through the Guns, Gangs and Violence Reduction Strategy (GGVRS) to fight gun and gang crime, including auto theft.